When Matthew Powell’s daughter Katie died, it wasn’t the first time he had lost a loved one to complications of type 1 diabetes. His first wife, Sheridan, had died of diabetes-related kidney disease 17 years earlier, at the age of just 29.
Now Mr. Powell, 47, is determined to raise awareness of type 1 diabetes for everyone who doesn’t understand how serious it can be.
“I just hope that by talking about this, people will realise just how important it is to control diabetes properly because if you don’t, it can be a killer,” said Mr. Powell.
Like her mother, Katie, who was diagnosed at the age of 16 after falling ill on a family holiday, struggled to control her diabetes. Compounding the problem were several other health conditions, including caudal regression, a spinal condition that prevents the lower half of the body from developing properly. She was just 2lbs 11oz when she was born, and she was wheelchair-bound for her whole life.
Miss Powell didn’t realise how serious a diagnosis of type 1 diabetes was, but her father did.
“Katie couldn’t remember much about her mother’s death. I tried to teach her about the severity of diabetes and taught her about the different foods she should avoid, but it was difficult for her because she just wanted to be like everybody else.
“She was only young so she didn’t worry about it too much – but I did.”
But despite his proactive approach to his daughter’s diagnosis, Miss Powell’s health continued to deteriorate. Time and again she was rushed to hospital, until one day she didn’t recover.
“During Katie’s final visit to hospital she was in a lot of pain, but I thought it would subside. Nothing could have prepared me for losing her.
“The day after Katie was admitted her grandmother called me and told me she had passed away. I felt, and still feel, numb. I have been re-living everything that happened with her mum all over again after losing her in the same way, but this is harder because it is my own daughter.”
“Her death was sudden. Two days before she went to A&E because she was in agony and had to be admitted because the pain wouldn’t go away. We were with all the next day and then she was moved to high dependency overnight, before she died of an intestinal haemorrhage, which is likely to be related to her diabetes.”
Mr. Powell hopes to promote a better understanding of diabetes, and the serious consequences of not controlling it. Heartbreaking stories like this are all too familiar, and we can only hope that they inspire someone else to take control of their diabetes.
“I just hope that by talking about this, people will realise just how important it is to control diabetes properly because if you don’t, it can be a killer.”
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Image source: dailymail.co.uk
***UPDATE, 2 MARCH 2016: An inquest at Bolton Coroners Court has heard that Katie Powell died after going 30 hours without insulin injections, The Bolton News reports. Katie reportedly self-administered insulin after being admitted to Royal Bolton Hospital’s A&E department on 18 September, but coroner Alan Walsh told the inquest that “nobody took responsibility for managing Katie during this period following her transfer from A&E to the ward.
“Nobody took responsibility in the medical team to carry out the medication review to ensure that insulin was being prescribed and administered,” Walsh added. Katie died on 20 September after suffering from cardiac arrest and internal bleeding. The inquest was expected to conclude on 2 March.