Jim’s diary – Part 2

Following on from Jim’s first day in hospital in April 1928, here are some further diary entries that he wrote during his stay.

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Sussex County Hospital, Brighton

Wednesday 11th April 1928

The doctor came at 10.45am, and when it was my turn he told me that but for insulin diabetes would be a very serious thing indeed, and that as it was I should probably have to diet always. One nurse first brought me some water, a knife and fork and a small portion of bread. And later I had meat, greens, a few potatoes and gravy; followed by rice and cream. I did not drink any water, however.

Thursday 12th April, 1.30pm
I am afraid my memory for sequence is very bad, but this morning I finished ‘Angel Esquire’ and bought a ‘Chronicle’. Doctor came on first round and soon after I had a little doze (during which my knife and fork were laid and cup of water). When he came the second time he examined my chest, back and stomach, looked at my teeth and eyes. He then hammered my elbows and knees and tickled my feet, pointing them out to Sister as regards, I think, their colouration. I told him of the ‘bruised’ pain in my right foot and he asked me if I had any pins and needles pain and I said “no”. He then warned me not to take anything, but what the nurses gave me, and said that although I might be tempted to eat, perhaps, chocolate, I must refrain from doing so. The diet at first would not be nice and sparing, but would be better later.

Friday 13th April
At about 10.10 was taken by Nurse Letherly to be weighed – 9 stone 11. Soon after the Dr came and by chart found there was very little, if any, sugar in water. He said I was to be put on different diet if next lot showed none, but kept to Elementary Rest if any traces. He also told me I would not be too bad it seemed and I am feeling quite bucked.

Just heard that wireless reports German transatlantic ‘plane over Nova Scotia’. For tea had cup of Bovril and plate of lettuce and tomatoes and salt. Very gratifying.

Thursday 19th April, 1.30pm
Dr Hunt came before dinner and reported satisfactory, in fact, I think he wondered if I really was diabetic for Dr Cummings said “Oh yes, he had 0.23 per cent sugar in his blood.”

Wednesday 25th, 11am
Doctor just been and will make out his report now, as he had long talk and I don’t want to forget it. Spec. Gravity gone down from 1025 – 1020; still acetone. Diet no 13. Doctor said perhaps sugar not coming on. Elementary Rest tomorrow and Doctor explained that when better, I shall have to have one day a week for Rest (any day) if I could keep sugar from urine, if not, have injection of insulin instead. He rather thought I should have to have insulin.

Sunday 29th, 11am
When Doctor came just this minute he found chart good, and put me forward to No 17 diet. He then asked when I should be told how to test my own urine and nurse said she would show me this afternoon. He went on to say I should have to be my ‘own doctor’ when at home, and when lots of sugar, see own doctor, otherwise diet it down. He would give me a list of what I could and could not have. He was afraid I should never be able to indulge in active exercise, as then the body would need more food, and consequently give the ‘pancreas’ more exercise and this particular organ in me was weak, as I had a leaning to be diabetic, although not nearly so bad as other cases. Must use my intelligence and keep my body in good health.

Monday May 7th
At 10.00 got back to bed. Dr Cummings came and had quite a lot to say. He started by looking at chart and then telling Sister to give me 1 oz (he was not sure if it was that quantity) of something he did not say the name of, after an ordinary breakfast, and taking half hourly tests, to obtain a curve. Very mysterious, but I shall enquire further later. He said this was to find out if it would be necessary for me to diet myself, but he thought it would.

The he told me mine was a mild case of diabetes, but the complaint was a much more serious one with a young person at 17, that it would be with a man of say 60, when it was nothing. But he impressed on me that I must take every precaution and be my own doctor, and must not let any sugar appear, or it might be serious, but if I looked after myself there was no need to worry. When Dr Hunt came, Dr Cummings showed him my record, pointing out sugar etc, and former said it was good, and agreed to Dr Cummings request that I should go home Wednesday – I threw fists to ceiling as soon as he’d gone to corridor.

Thursday May 10th, 7am
Dr Cummings said the tests were satisfactory. I asked about getting over it, but he said usually once a diabetic always a diabetic. It was possible for the pancreas to strengthen and improve after rest, and as I seemed to have been taken early, my case very mild and pancreas had been overworked as I was diabetic when I came in. Only in for two or three days more, he said (!) – and hope so too.

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