Saturday 17 April 2010

In memory of Louis Austin - RIP

Diabetes treatment in 2010 has surpassed the treatment available for almost any other disease - FACT. We can monitor our glucose continuously, we can take tablets, we can use pumps, injections, exercise, eye surgery and even amptuations if it means saving our lives. The cold hard truth is that without diagnosis and treatment, diabetics will die. Had I been alive one hundred years ago, when diabetes was known about but only as a killer, because no treatment yet existed, I would have never made it passed the age of four. I would have been long gone for 23 years, just a memory to my parents now, who will forever remember me as the four year old girl they had to say goodbye to in the hospital bed that night. I would exist only in photos and memories. I would be an educational story, used to try and teach others about the devastation that diabetes can cause.

I often talk about the way I rely on insulin because I still find it incredible that even though I feel wonderful now, without insulin, I would have only hours before I would be in serious trouble. Without it, my body would begin to die and within days, if not hours, I could no longer be here. I simply can't survive without insulin. The thing is, in this day and age no-one needs to die from undiagnosed or untreated diabetes, right?


In July 2009, Louis Austin, an 8 year old school boy from Manchester, was complaining of devastating headaches, was vomitting, had lost almost 2 stone in weight over a matter of days, was hot, was restless and was tired beyond comprehension. He was taken to an out of hours Dr Surgery on Saturday, where he was misdiagnosed as having been struck by the Swine Flu. He was prescribed Tamiflu and was sent home.

By Sunday night, Louis Austin was no longer alive. He passed away that night, despite his parents having called an ambulance twice as well as contacting the out of hours Doctor service. According to the paramedic, he was 'not a priority'. In the midst of the swine flu craze, Louis Austin was failed by a number of people. Failed, is the only word for it.

It saddens me that a disease like diabetes still takes the lives of people who never even knew what was coming. It saddens me that those parents had to say goodbye to a son they never should have lost, and it saddens me that so little is still known about diabetes. It saddens me that any child who had lost that amount of weight, and was clearly showing all the signs of Diabetic Ketoacidosis, was misdiagnosed as having swine flu, because there happened to be an 'epidemic' around.

With a general election looming, and the promise of so many changes being spouted by over condfident politicians, I truly hope that more wil be done to educate about diabetes. To explain how incredibly dangerous a condition it is, no matter how good your control is. The fact remains that without treatment, diabetics cannot survive. Although the doctor now admits that she was wrong, and although this (hopefully) is a rare incident, it was one incident too many.

Even though diabetes is a life sentence, it is still better than a death sentence.

RIP Louis Austin.

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