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Diabetes Now & Then: Joslin Medalist Paves Her Own Path

Judi Hoskins on how diabetes care has changed over the years

Laura KolodjeskiLaura Kolodjeski

To say that diabetes care has changed over the years would be an understatement. Today, we’re sharing the story of Judi Hoskins, a woman who has been living with diabetes for more than 50 years. Many of you may not be familiar with Judi, but may know of her son, Michael Hoskins, from his The Diabetic’s Corner Booth blog.

Both Judi and Michael have type 1 diabetes and are quite open and candid about their experiences – that’s been very evident through Michael’s blogging. While Judi doesn’t have a blog, she has paved her own path, first learning to live with her own diabetes and then raising a son with diabetes. In fact, Judi is a Joslin medalist and someone I think many could learn from.

Judi Hoskins
Judi Hoskins is a Joslin Medalist, which is awarded to those that have lived 25, 50 or 75 years with diabetes. She traveled to the Joslin Adult Clinic in Boston in 2011.

Judi was diagnosed with diabetes at the age of 5, but that was no easy process. She says it took about a year of medical issues before she was actually diagnosed in 1958.

“After a year of my mother taking me to different doctors and being told all I needed was vitamins, a doctor new to practicing medicine and who was filling in for a friend’s pediatrician, did a blood test first thing,” Judi said. “They put me in the hospital and kept me there for a few weeks. I was home three days and an ambulance came and took me back. I was basically in a coma by the time someone figured out what was wrong with me.”

It makes plenty of sense that Judi turned into the mother she did for Michael when she talks about the way her mother handled her diabetes.

“My mother was really innovative,” Judi said. “I remember her taking me to a meeting she wanted to have with the hospital dietitian. I was left in the waiting room to color and this woman is screaming at my mother saying, ‘You’re going to kill this child, you can’t give her ice cream and pound cake.’ But my mom had gone to the library and studied and had come up with a point system where a half a cup of ice cream was equal to one bread and two fats. She wouldn’t feed it to me for every meal. But her theory was if you let your daughter go to a friend’s birthday party and not have cake or ice cream, you’re doing more harm than good in not letting her have those things at all.”

Growing up, Judi said she heard plenty from doctors about what to expect from her life with diabetes. It was not always pleasant from medical professionals.

“They told me I wouldn’t live to live to see 21. Quite often people would tell me things like that,” Judi said. “Of course I believed them – I was a kid. It was quite psychologically damaging. The closer I got to 21, I thought I can do all of these things I wasn’t supposed to be doing. I was only going to live another year or so.”

But Judi said that as she made it to 21 and past, her perspective started to change and she learned how to live a full, long life with diabetes.

“As I got past 21, I got more settled in my mind to the fact that they were wrong and I actually got a doctor I liked and believed and didn’t tell me things like that,” Judi said. “I was more sure of myself. The doctors weren’t all right. They shouldn’t be telling kids things like that.”

If we fast forward, Judi now uses a pump and a continuous blood glucose monitor, something Michael urged her to do a few months after he obtained his own pump. In 2008, Judi was awarded a Joslin medal, which goes to those people living with type 1 diabetes for 25, 50 or 75 years. In 2011, her 53rd year of living with diabetes, Judi went to Joslin, where she participated in a number of tests as part of The 50 Year Medalist Study, a study to better understand why some people with diabetes are able to live so long.

“It was cool to go there, not to see the history of the place, but the history of Joslin itself,” Judi said. “They just do some tremendous work there. It’s just too bad not everybody can get the level of care that people there get. It was a good experience, I really enjoyed doing it.”

When a Joslin medalist speaks, I certainly listen. It was an honor to learn about Judi’s story, and there’s plenty more conversation with Judi and Michael to come in a part two of this post. We’ll hear about some of the challenges Judi faced in raising a child with diabetes while living with diabetes herself. And, we’ll also talk about how much diabetes support networks have evolved. Be sure to check back!

All the best,

Laura K.

Disclosure: Judi Hoskins received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.

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