Diabetes discipline for 60 years
FOR 60 years, some part of Beryl Lethlean's brain has been thinking about food.
The 74-year-old was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes when she was 14.
The autoimmune condition destroys insulin producing cells in the pancreas, leaving her unable to regulate her blood sugar levels.
This means the Point Vernon woman must monitor what she eats and make sure she has food at regular intervals to avoid serious health complications.
Ms Lethlean travelled to Brisbane to receive her 60-year Kellion Victory Medal commemorating her time living with the disease last week.
The medals were presented by Dr Alan Stocks AM of the Kellion Diabetes Foundation.
The Kellion Victory Medal Scheme recognises Australians who have survived diabetes for 50, 60, 70 and 75 years.
"I was diagnosed with diabetes in 1958," Beryl said.
"Not much was known about diabetes then so I ate a lot of things I shouldn't have.
"The symptom which is most evident was the terrible thirst, it didn't matter how much water I drank it never quenched my thirst.
"At that time I had to check my blood glucose levels using a test tube, Bunsen burner, my urine and a tablet of some sort, then boil it up.
"It was such a rigmarole I didn't test myself very often, so my insulin dosing wasn't very exact."
The challenge for Ms Lethlean when injecting insulin is finding the delicate balance between the danger of a coma caused by low blood glucose and the deadly risk of diabetic ketoacidosis, caused by high blood glucose.
In more than half a century of technological revolution, Ms Lethlean has seen the invention of hand-held meters to measure glucose using test strips and a blood sample, usually collected from a finger prick.
"How wonderful and safe," Beryl said. "I want to let people know about the Kellion Victory Medal because it is a nice achievement as not everyone lives more than 50 years with this disease.
Ms Lethlean, the proud mother of three children, said her diabetes is well controlled.
"For someone who has just been diagnosed I want you to know as long as you have order, look after yourself and a healthy lifestyle it won't stop you doing anything."