Bonnyrigg woman’s half a century with diabetes

Lorna McIntosh of Bonnyrigg who has received a medal from Diabetes UK in recognition of her courage and perseverance living with diabetes for 50 years.
Lorna McIntosh of Bonnyrigg who has received a medal from Diabetes UK in recognition of her courage and perseverance living with diabetes for 50 years.

A nurse from Bonnyrigg has received a medal from Diabetes UK in recognition of her courage and perseverance while living well with the illness for over 50 years.

Lorna McIntosh (51) was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when she was 12 months old. But thanks to her family, health professionals and her own determination she has managed her condition well over the last five decades. She has now received the Alan Nabarro medal, awarded to people who have lived with diabetes for 50 years. Alan Nabarro waged a lifelong battle against discrimination towards people with diabetes and was awarded an OBE for his work with young people in London.

Lorna McIntosh with her husband David.

Lorna McIntosh with her husband David.

Lorna, who recently moved to Bonnyrigg from Kelso, described the impact of diabetes on her life: I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as a baby. It was a shock as no one in our family had the condition. Syringes were the glass type with metal needles which had to be boiled in pots on the stove in order to be properly sterilized. These were painful to inject and nothing like the fine disposable needles we use today.

“The only method of monitoring glucose levels at home then was by using Clinitest tables and urine samples. The only kind of insulin prescribed at the time was derived from pigs and it was not until 1987 that I started using human insulin and pen syringes.

“My overwhelming aim was always to try my best to keep good control. There were times when I would sit and cry because I had an ‘unexpected’ hypo. “There were times when I felt discriminated against at school. I had to have a snack at 3pm and would be asked to leave the classroom. And I missed countless days in school being sent home due to hypos.

“My wish was always to have children and I was advised to have them while I was young. My first son, Ben was born 28 years ago, my daughter Rachael, 23ys ago, and my youngest son Ewan is now 18.

“All are healthy and doing really well. But childbirth isn’t easy for a diabetic. Blood sugar checks and insulin injections increased to around six a day,

“When I had children I had more unexpected hypos, but I was not going to let it hold me back and my control was excellent at that time. I’ve been fortunate to have the greatest support from my husband David, who has been my rock.

“In 2004, I fulfilled an ambition of mine from childhood and took a BSc in adult nursing. I qualified as a staff nurse and ensured that one of my modules was in diabetes management. In later life I have developed some complications, such as, ischemic heart disease, kidney disease and hypertension, minute retinopathy and thyroid problems.

“Having Diabetes has been challenging, especially in my early life. But with determination and the support of family, friends and, importantly, the medical profession, it can be managed so one can live a relatively normal life.

“My medtronic pump, which I started using in 2011, has significantly helped control and flexibility. Being organised most certainly helps too. You need to have conviction that you are willing to work through the sometimes difficult periods of your life.”

Angela Mitchell of Diabetes Scotland, said: Diabetes is a complex condition which can lead to serious complications but with the right care and management the risks can be significantly reduced.

“Lorna is an inspiration to us all, from being diagnosed as a very young age, she has shown that people with diabetes can lead fulfilling and healthy lives.”