Expanded Version Of Chapter 1 Of My Story With Pictures

By Richard157 Latest Reply 2009-02-11 21:25:38 -0600
Started 2009-02-11 16:40:12 -0600

I posted my 20 chapter story in this forum earlier. People on several sites have encouraged me to publish. I am expanding the story and adding pictures. I will see if I can find a publisher by the end of the year. Some of you have read the original version of the story. If you read this chapter today please give some critique. Too many pictures? Any suggestions how I can make it better? Thanks!

(Since we cannot put pictures in our posts you will have to click on the URLs to see the pictures.)


CHAPTER 1…My Birth And Diagnosis

I was born Richard Alvin Vaughn in Roanoke, Virginia on September 10, 1939. I weighed 10 pounds. A midwife saw to my birth there. The cottage in which we lived was much too small and my parents wanted to find a larger home. The three of us moved in 1941 to a two story rented house. It had five rooms, two porches, a garden, a nice lawn and shade trees.


In early 1941 I had measles that settled in my ears. I had a fever and was very sick. I had three kinds of measles in nine months time. There was infantile measles, German measles (Rubella) and Black measles (hemorrhagic measles).

In May of 1942 I had a hernia on my right side near my hip joint. It ruptured and I had to wear a truss. I was less than three years old. The rupture became worse and I had surgery. I had to stay in bed so long that I had to learn to walk again.

Later that year I had to have my tonsils removed. There was some bleeding the first night after returning home. There were splotches of blood on my face the next morning. My parents thought that my throat had been bleeding. They took me to the doctor and he said rats had been biting me and had bitten through my lip. The rats had smelled the blood from the surgery. Mother's story did not say what was done to eliminate the rats. I do remember that big rat traps were set to catch rats while we lived in that house.

There were blackouts in 1942 during World War II. On certain nights people had to turn out all their lights as practice in case of an attack. I used to collect stamps and in one of my stamp albums I have some of the ration stamps my parents used during the war. After the war ended and the Allies were victorious I can remember going out in the backyard and running and yelling that the war was over. I think I was five at that time and I had no idea what it was all about. My parents were excited about the war ending and I suppose that some of their enthusiasm rubbed off on me. I am amazed that I can remember that now. I can remember many things from my preschool years.

Mother had her appendix removed in late 1942. She was hospitalized for ten days. While she was there she learned she was pregnant. She also developed asthma and stayed very sick and nauseated until my sister, Shirley Ann Vaughn, was born on June 24, 1943.

I loved Shirley very much. Once when she was in her baby carriage and Mother was not present I tried putting baby powder on her like I had seen mother do. I poured it on her face and it got into her eyes. Maybe I hadn't noticed that the powder was supposed to be poured on a different part of her anatomy. I think I was four at that time. Mother had a hard time getting the powder out of her eyes. Another time I held my hand over her mouth to keep her from crying. Mother had to watch me closely until I was older.

I was grateful to finally have a playmate as Shirley grew older but I became aggravated with her when she followed me around and tried to do everything I did and say what I said. I still loved her.



In very early 1945, when I was 5, I had chicken pox and mumps, both within a few months time. Because of my previous illnesses and my hernia I was already rather skinny and not very healthy at all. After I had somewhat recovered from the chickenpox and mumps I started losing weight and by mid-summer I was skin and bones. I had no appetite, I drank water all the time and I urinated very often. My parents took me to our family doctor. He had no diagnosis and prescribed a tonic to help me regain my appetite. The tonic probably contained sugar and was most likely much the same as the old "snake oil" remedies that were not uncommon back then. The tonic was ineffective, of course, and I was taken to a second doctor. Still no diagnosis and so I was taken to a third doctor. No diagnosis there either. Despite my condition my parents enrolled me in first grade at a nearby elementary school. There was a bathroom in one corner of the classroom. I spent much time there. Mrs Thompson, the teacher, became very annoyed with this despite the fact that my Mother had explained my symptoms to her.

My parents took me to a fourth doctor who knew something about diabetes and he recognized my symptoms. He had my blood checked for sugar. I have no idea what the blood sugar level was. I only remember one thing about that doctor visit. When the doctor told my parents of my "sugar diabetes" my Mother's face turned white and the expression of fear on her face frightened me. My Father stood behind us and I did not see his face. My Mother's expression will always be with me until the day I die. I was 6 years old on September 10 that year and my diagnosis was on September 15. I was so sick from the symptoms of my diabetes that I did not have a happy birthday.

The doctor gave my parents a reference to a fifth doctor who was supposed to be the "expert" in the area for diabetics. He was a far cry from an endocrinologist. I was hospitalized and given beef/pork type insulin. After awhile I regained my appetite and I started gaining weight. Insulin from pigs and cows saved my life and I regained much of my health. Insulin was discovered in 1921 and first sold in 1923. I started using it only 22 years after it was first available.

My Mother wrote her own story when she was in her 80s and she only briefly mentioned my diabetes diagnosis. She did not say anything about the months leading up to the diagnosis or the trauma in the months that followed. I think that was because she was devastated by my diagnosis and not knowing how to care for me. It was very traumatic for both of my parents. I feel certain that the memories were too painful for Mother and she chose not to include the details of that part of her life in her story. I do not remember all of what happened back then but my parents told me all the details years later.

Dr. D., the "expert", told my parents that I should never eat sugar or anything with high sugar content. There was no other advice given. So there we were with vials of insulin taken from animals, a glass syringe and metal needles that were twisted onto the end of the syringe. The syringe and a needle were sterilized by boiling them on top of our stove every morning. I had one injection before breakfast each day. The insulin was a twenty four hour insulin. We also tested my urine for sugar prior to my injection. A blue liquid called Benedict's solution was poured into a large test tube, 8 drops of urine were added to the solution and then the tube was placed upright into a metal container and the water in the container was boiled for awhile. When the tube was removed the solution would progress in the colors of blue (with no glucose present), green, yellow, orange, red, and then brick red or brown (with high sugar present). A color change would signify the presence of sugar. My urine was checked only once each day in the mornings before breakfast. The needle was very long. I don't remember the actual length but I think it may have been about three quarters of an inch. We were instructed to stick the needle directly into the muscle on top of my upper legs. The diameter of the needles was greater than the ones used now. That was necessary so that a piece of wire could be inserted to unclog them. The injections were very painful. I remember them very clearly.


6 replies

rbergman 2009-02-11 20:29:30 -0600 Report

I love your life story, reading it makes me feel like I'm there and I can visualize everything from your descriptions.

I only have my grandmothers memories of her father and grandfather being sick with "mad fits" and unfortunately she was in her early 70s when diagnosed and we only got a few details before she passed away only 12 days after being diagnosed. (This was not what took her life only a part of it). She was born in 1903 and both her father and grandfather had the "mad fits" as she called it. She also said it wasn't until she was in her 20s that they knew what it was, so that fits with your description of when insulin was created, but that's about all I know about the history of it within my family.

I say, find a publisher, its an amazing read!

Debe Pendice
Debe Pendice 2009-02-11 18:28:55 -0600 Report

Richard, Like I told you before ,"BRavo". I enjoyed your story and also shared it with my diabetic support group. Everyone there was proud to see someone accomplish that and here to tell us about it. The pictures are great. Thanks again for sharing..Debe

momwith juvie
momwith juvie 2009-02-11 18:09:06 -0600 Report

when i joined this site it was your story i read first.i have also read it to my son,who loves it.i would so love to see it published so my son could have it in book form.he wanted to share your story with his class room .pictures are great.i love them.please keep us updated so i can bye it as soon as it come out.thank you for sharing and letting my son now he can live along life with type 1 .

roshy 2009-02-11 17:12:46 -0600 Report

rich its so interesting to hear how diabetes was treated "back in the day"
as im only 20 years old i wouldnt have the slightest clue whot the needles or treatments was for diabetes was back then!!

My father was first diagnosed when he was 7. He told me that he remembered that he had trouble seeing the blackboard in school as a young child. When he went to the doctor he tested his urine and guess what they found out!!!???
When he was younger he was told the same as you, keep away from sugar; full stop!! he wasnt even allowed a banana!!
It just shows how far diabetes treatment has come to this day. We no longer eat to the we inject but inject to the way we eat!!! and of course, now we have the pump!! step by step diabetes is becoming a much more managable condition!! Thank you for sharing your story!! I absolutly love reading them

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