Diabetes sufferer awarded medal after battling condition for 50 years

A diabetic who has lived with the condition for 50 years has praised hospital staff for their high standard of care – and insisted it has not prevented him from living a full, active life.

John Murphy has spoken after being presented with the Alan Nabarro Award in recognition of five decades spent living with type one diabetes.

The award is given to people who have lived with the condition for 50 years.

Mr Murphy, who works for Lerwick-based haulage firm Northwards, was diagnosed at the age of nine when he was living on the mainland back in March 1972.

But while the challenge proved difficult for young John and his family, it has not prevented him from living a full and active life.

“I have always been very active, even as a child, making it more difficult to control my diabetes in those early years,” he said.

Mr Murphy can recall his “lovely mum” giving him Mars bars to keep in his pockets and “down my socks” when he played football and rugby.

“Mind you, they did make a terrible mess in the washing machine,” he added.

“During my life, I have never been prevented from being active because of my diabetes.

“I’ve cycled in Spain, walked the West Highland Way, done a couple of duathlons, run half marathons and played rugby with my local team Carnoustie at Murrayfield.”

Following his move to Shetland in 2017, he was introduced to the diabetic team at the Gilbert Bain Hospital in Lerwick – headed by Dr Pauline Wilson and ”super nurse” Alison Irvine.

Both, says Mr Murphy, are “excellent professionals” and a massive help.

Living with diabetes for so long, Mr Murphy has seen massive changes in treatment and technology.

“My first insulin syringe was made of glass. To sterilise it you had to boil it before each injection. My mum had to do this each night.

“In 1986, I moved onto the Novapen to inject insulin which was in a cartridge. I injected four times a day, before meals and one long-lasting one at night time.”

He said that represented “wonderful progress after the glass and disposable syringes”.

In 2015, Mr Murphy was given an insulin pump, which brought an end to injections.

The full story appeared in Friday’s edition of The Shetland Times.


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