A CANCER diagnosis is devastating enough, but for David Murray it is not the most debilitating health issue he has faced over the past 12 months.
His type two diabetes, which he had always controlled easily with oral medication, began to spiral out of control as a result of gruelling chemotherapy and radiotherapy treatments.
He was forced to inject insulin for the first time as his blood sugar levels spiralled wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other. According to his wife, Eileen, the diabetes was causing far more day-to-day difficulties for David and his family than the cancerous growth in his bile duct gland, which was discovered around a year ago.
But one diabetes nurse at the Western General Hospital made sure that the family was never alone.
Even on weekends and when she was on holiday, Gayle McRobert would be on the phone, offering her expert advice several times a day.
She also offered invaluable emotional support to former coal miner David, 79, and Eileen, 78, of Loanhead, while their lives were going through “overwhelming” changes.
In recognition of her invaluable support, Gayle has been put forward for the Health Hero award – an initiative backed by the Evening News which aims to shine a light on the thousands of unsung heroes in the NHS who make all the difference to their patients.
Eileen, who worked for a medical publishing firm in Baxter’s Place before retiring, described Gayle as a “tower of strength”, having helped put David on the road to recovery.
She said: “The diabetes started going haywire, and he had to start injecting for the first time and it was a bit frightening. I felt like I couldn’t handle it, he was in and out with all of these terrible infections. When he started having chemotherapy it was considerably worse as he had to take a lot of steroids, it was a nightmare.
“But once Gayle started monitoring it, she was ringing three times a day to check what the readings were. She was amazing, she would even call on her days off because she knew how upset we were.”
Gayle, 38, has worked for NHS Lothian since 2000 as part of the diabetes team at the Western. She is just one of the candidates nominated by members of the public for the prestigious award so far.
Eileen added: “I was reading about the award in the paper and I just though ‘that’s Gayle, she should get a medal’. The Western is an amazing hospital, all of the staff should get awards, but Gayle was my anchor.
“I simply do not know how I or my husband would have coped without the support, passion or kindness of Gayle. She will never know what gratitude the whole family feels for her.”
How to have your say
IF you have your own health hero nominate them today.
Any NHS Lothian staff member is eligible to be nominated by patients, their carers or family members.
Visit www.nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk/Pages/healthhero.aspx for a nomination form.
To request a paper version of the form, call 0141-578 1779.
Nominations must be made by the end of this month.