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Diabetes In The 1960s

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The History Of Diabetes

For 2,000 years diabetes has been recognized as a devastating and deadly disease. In the first century A.D. a Greek, Aretaeus, described the destructive nature of the affliction which he named “diabetes” from the Greek word for “siphon.” Eugene J. Leopold in his text Aretaeus the Cappodacian describes Aretaeus’ diagnosis: “…For fluids do not remain in the body, but use the body only as a channel through which they may flow out. Life lasts only for a time, but not very long. For they urinate with pain and painful is the emaciation. For no essential part of the drink is absorbed by the body while great masses of the flesh are liquefied into urine.” Physicians in ancient times, like Aretaeus, recognized the symptoms of diabetes but were powerless to effectively treat it. Aretaeus recommended oil of roses, dates, raw quinces, and gruel. And as late as the 17th century, doctors prescribed “gelly of viper’s flesh, broken red coral, sweet almonds, and fresh flowers of blind nettles.” Early Discoveries-Human Guinea Pigs In the 17th century a London physician, Dr. Thomas Willis, determined whether his patients had diabetes or not by sampling their urine. If it had a sw Continue reading >>

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Popular Questions

  1. Richard157

    Needles and Syringes, 1940's - 1960's

    My father started giving me shots of insulin in 1945, when I was 6. When the needles were dull, he sharpened them with a "whet rock". We had our own well, and there were lime deposits from the rocks underground. The needles would be coated with these deposits after they were boiled, and they would occasionally become clogged. The opening in the needles was wide enough that we could push a very small wire through and unclog them. When the needles and glass syringe were being sterilized in boiling water on top of our kitchen stove, we would sometimes forget about them, and all the water would evaporate. Then there was a loud pop and pieces of glass would fly all over the kitchen. I don't think we ever got hurt by these flying pieces of glass, but it was a potential danger. Fortunately, we always kept a spare syringe on hand.
    There is a picture showing a comparison of a 3/4 inch long 26 gauge needle attached to a glass insulin syringe, and a 5mm 32 gauge (5/32 inch) pen needle attached to a Lilly Luxura pen. Click on the link at the bottom of this paragraph to see these needles and syringes. What a contrast when we compare the 1940's and the present day! I used the 3/4 inch needle during my early years. My doctor had my father inject into my leg or arm muscles at a 90 degree angle. I was skin and bones when diagnosed, so the injections were very painful. It was not necessary to push the entire 3/4 inch needle into my muscle, but most of the needle was necessary to get the needed absorption. Injecting into the muscle caused the animal insulin to be absorbed more quickly. The insulin from pigs and cows was not as fast as the fast acting insulins we have today, so having a faster absorption was helpful. In my early years I had only one injection per day, before breakfast. The animal insulin was a 24 hour insulin.
    https://www.facebook.com/richard.vaughn.923?ref=tn_tnmn
    In 1955 there was concern about the infection caused by the use of glass syringes, and the worlds first plastic disposable syringe called the Monoject, was introduced. Unfortunately, doctors thought it was safer to reuse glass syringes after sterilizing them. In 1956 the plastic disposable syringe we use today was designed. Becton Dickinson did "extensive development trials and tests and in 1961 introduced it's first plastic disposable syringe, the BD Plastipak."
    The link below gives more information on the history of syringes.
    http://www.diabetesexplained.com/syringe-history.html
    I was still using glass syringes and long needles from 1945 until the 1960's when disposable needles and plastic syringes became available. There are so many things about my diabetes past that I took for granted back then. I tell recently diagnosed diabetics about my past, and some of them look at me in horror and disbelief.

  2. Mar2a

    I love these pieces of history! Unfortunately, I can't access that Facebook page

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