The Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston gives medals to diabetics who have lived with their diabetes for 50 and 75 years. They also provide certificates for 25 years. I have had diabetes for 63 years so I am applying for the 50 year medal. To be accepted I must show proof that I have been diabetic for at least 50 years. The hospital where I was admitted in 1945 keeps records for only the past 10 years and my parents and doctors (from back then) are all deceased. I was told that letters from people who knew me well in those years would be accepted. My cousin and my sister have written letters and they have been mailed. (My sister’s letter appears below.) They are supposed to be hand written and signed.
After becoming part of this group I will be part of the Joslin medalist study. They are trying to determine how some of us long term diabetics can live with diabetes so long and have no complications. They will give me a reimbursement for my travel expenses and provide free lodging in a hotel before my examination. I am anxious to participate.
Here is my sister’s letter. She wrote a very wonderful letter.
August 6, 2009
To: Whom It May Concern
From: Shirley Rhodes
Subject: Richard Vaughn - Living With Diabetes for 62+ Years
"My name is Shirley, and I am Richard Vaughn’s sister. He was diagnosed with Diabetes when he was 6 years old, in the 1940’s. I was only 2 at the time; therefore, I didn’t know much about it, but as I got older, I understood that he had a serious illness. Our mom and dad did not let him do some of the things that other kids his age did, or all he wanted to do. They were afraid that if he got too much exercise, he would go into insulin shock. Part of that fear was due to their lack of knowledge about the disease. I don’t think anyone, not even most doctors, knew much about Diabetes in those days.
I saw my daddy boiling the needles to sterilize them, and sometimes I watched Richard get his shot. I felt so sorry
for him. I used to hide to eat candy because he couldn’t have any. He didn’t let his Diabetes bother him too much, always having a good attitude about it, and still does. He had an interest in a lot of things when he was a kid and did not let his Diabetes interfere any more than he had to. There were times when he didn’t feel well at all and couldn’t do much, but most of the time he was playing, helping on our little farm, and just being a “kid”.
I tagged around after my brother a lot and learned many things from him. To this day, I am still interested in the activities
we took part in when we were growing up, like golfing, fishing, movies, and many other things. I tease him and tell
him that “everything I know, I learned from him”. That means bad habits, too, of course.
Richard made good grades in school but couldn’t participate in all the physical activities that the other children did, which
bothered him some. He felt like he could take part, but he was respectful of our parents, who did not want him to. Mother got notes from his doctor to excuse him from some of those activities.
There were times, especially at night, when I would hear my brother making strange, guttural sounds from his bed. When
that happened, I knew that he was going into shock, and I would wake up our mother. She and Daddy knew what to
do to bring him out of an insulin shock. Those “spells” always scared me so badly, and I guess I was afraid he was going to die.
As Richard grew up, he learned more and more about how to control his Diabetes and was determined to go to college. He worked his way through his college years and became a very successful college teacher himself, well liked by his students and peers. I am, and always have been, very proud of him. He has had a lot of obstacles to overcome in his life, and today he is enjoying his retirement, along with his wife of 45 years. He has many hobbies and projects that keep him busy. He now has an insulin pump to help to keep his blood sugars regulated, and it has really been a blessing!
Richard is a wonderful person, and brother, and I think he deserves all the good things that life has to offer him.