“It was like travelling with a celebrity,” Marlene told me when I was interviewing her about Judy Taylor. Nowhere was that more true than on their road trips down to New York state for the annual Oley conferences. Judy loved those conferences, meeting fellow patients, being able to travel with her friends from Toronto General Hospital, talking to doctors and nurses involved in TPN care. For being the first to live on Home TPN and for inspiring so many to live good lives on this artificial form of feeding, Judy won the inaugural LifelineLetter Award from Oley.
Judy cannot believe it. For the first time in her life, she’s travelling in a plane over the clouds and over the seas. To Sweden. To be a star guest of Prof Arvid Wretlind at an international medical conference. She’s so thrilled, she’s not going to let a little thing like a skin abscess stop her.
Judy fears bugs, the viral or bacterial kind, even a cold. For bugs can kill her. She takes pains to avoid them. Somehow though, she catches one. She quickly spirals down, and Cliff races her down the highways to Toronto General Hospital and Jeej. It’s touch and go. The entire hospital hears about it and worries. Will Judy make it?
The fall out from Judy being absent for so long and then her life being one where death was ever present, continues. First Miriam leaves home, then Julie springs a surprise on her parents. Judy goes through a raft of emotions, but she never loses contact with her girls.
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Sometimes the price people pay for being the first, being a pioneer, appears in their children. And so it was for Judy. It began in her eldest, first with minor rebellion then with running away and finally with an arrest. Judy didn’t know what to do. In the end, she had to send her daughter to Toronto.
This chapter is a story about diabetes, about how a remarkable discovery was made because of Judy, because of Jeej’s work with her. They discovered that chromium plays a vital role in diabetes. It was decades before the wider scientific and research audience started to understand the full ramifications of this discovery, but at the time it made the news. And Jeej enjoyed hugely both curing Judy’s diabetes, including her fuzzy feet, and making this ground-breaking connection between chromium and diabetes. She could eat cake again — if she still ate! In this chapter, he tells the tale to a receptive audience: the Swedish professor who conducted the first pioneering work in artificial feeding and who developed intravenous fat, the very fat Judy uses.
Judy becomes famous. A reporter for Weekend Magazine in The Globe & Mail drives up to spend a day following her, talking to her, learning her remarkable story. Meanwhile, she complains about fuzzy feet to Jeej. He scratches his head over this unexpected development and after a few tests, discovers that she has diabetes. But that’s impossible! For 2 years he puzzles over this conundrum, and Judy grows tired of being a guinea pig. Time to give him a real one!
Judy feels good. She dives into community and family life after learning a skill she never needed in Toronto: driving. She becomes active in the local church, joining the choir, volunteering in the office, being the first to offer to cook the main meal for an event. And she joins the pastoral team to visit people in the local hospital. But she doesn’t stop visiting and thinking about her fellow lifeliners at Toronto General Hospital. Only the last chore of the day continues to cause her pain.