In 1948, Imogene Priddy Parker was given a lifetime gift that she didn’t want. She was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at the young age of 12; in her mind, it was a death sentence.
“My weight dropped from 79 pounds to a mere 59 pounds within a matter of weeks,” said Imogene. “I had always been an energetic child — in fact, a tomboy who was always romping, running, climbing trees and all the various other activities a ‘country gal’ could find to do. Suddenly I did not have the energy to complete a simple task. It seemed just too much effort to put one foot in front of the other. My parents realized something was seriously wrong with me. I was taken to the same country doctor who had driven the 5 miles to our farm home to deliver me when I was born.
She was terrified by the diagnosis. The only person she knew with diabetes in her small town of Seymour, Texas was an elderly man – who people said was dying from diabetes. She thought she must be dying too.
With much dread and hesitation, in 1951, Imogene was forced to go to Camp Sweeney, a summer camp for diabetic children. But it didn’t take long for her to realize her parents had made the right decision. After attending the camp, Imogene had the first hope that she would live to be grown. From that point on, Imogene found it critical to expand her knowledge to help her with her struggle.
And at age 77, Imogene continues her education through our Diabetes Education Program. “Imogene makes a normal appointment every 6 months to review her glycemic control and receive assistance with insulin pump adjustments if indicated,” said Denise Blair, RN, Diabetes Nurse Specialist. “Exercise, nutrition, labs, and personal goals are also discussed and new goals are set as indicated. A complete foot exam is also performed. The content of the visit is then sent to her personal physician so that he is kept informed of her progress and any changes made to her pump settings.”
“United Regional has the latest,” Imogene told Denise. “You really know how to take care of diabetics.”
“I have been doing this for 22 years and don’t have many patients as conscientious of their health as Imogene,” said Denise. “She is an inspiration to all of us. We use her story daily when talking to other patients – especially children. We can’t say enough about what an inspiration she is to us.”
Over the summer, Imogene was invited as an honored guest to the 64th Camp Sweeney Reunion, where she was surprised to be crowned as Ex-Camper Queen. The part she loved the most was receiving all the hugs from the children touched by her story.