HE’S injected himself more than 40,000 times to save his own life, but great-grandfather Derek Bockett says diabetes has not stopped him from doing anything.
And now Derek has been given a medal by the charity Diabetes UK for living with Type 1 diabetes for 60 years.
He has dedicated his award to his late mother Maisie, and late wife Betty.
Derek, 72, who has three children, six grandchildren and five great-grandchildren, said: ‘Without their love and support to help manage my condition, I may not have been around today to receive this medal.
‘My wife looked after me for 46 years, but passed away in September 2008.’
Derek was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1952.
‘A nurse staying with our family noticed the symptoms, including tremendous thirst and weight loss.
‘The doctor sent me to the Royal Hospital in Portsmouth and I stayed in for eight weeks.’
He described how injecting insulin and monitoring his blood sugar levels in the 1950s was more complicated than now.
He said: ‘As a teenager, my insulin was injected with glass syringes with inch-long needles kept in surgical spirit which had to be washed out carefully with distilled water otherwise it would sting.
‘A tablet was dropped into a test tube with my urine sample and heated over a Bunsen burner and if there was too much glucose it would turn red. I had a really strict diet – back then, my mum had to weigh all my carbohydrates and sweet treats were definitely out of the question.’
He says that medical developments have made a huge difference.
He said: ‘I now inject insulin twice a day with a disposable plastic syringe, use a blood glucose monitoring machine and have a more varied diet.
‘I also have regular eye and weight checks from my doctor.
He said the condition has not slowed him down.
‘In my lifetime, I have had some 40,000-plus insulin injections, but Type 1 diabetes has not stopped me from doing anything.
‘I have worked for 50 years in the electrical wholesale trade and driven a car for 45 years.’
Derek regularly speaks at diabetes groups to share his experiences. He also walked the Great South Run in 2008 and will be taking part in a Walk for Diabetes in June.
Richard Lane OBE, president of Diabetes UK, said: ‘To hear a story such as Derek’s is quite inspirational.
‘It also highlights that there are still 54,761 people diagnosed with diabetes in Hampshire and an estimated 20,000 people in the region who are unaware they have Type 2 diabetes.’