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The NHS: A Lifeline That Shaped My Life
5 July 2023

I'm Dan Cullinan, and as the senior projects coordinator in the JAG accreditation team, I have the privilege of writing this article to commemorate the remarkable milestone of the National Health Service reaching seventy-five years of service. From overcoming childhood ailments to battling life-threatening conditions, the NHS has been an unwavering pillar of support throughout my life journey. Today, I reflect on my personal experiences and express profound gratitude for the invaluable care and dedication provided by this remarkable institution.

I jokingly tell people that I’m a man of many illnesses, but it’s true. Until the age of two I faced difficulties with eating, breathing, and sinus-related issues. I had my tonsils and adenoids removed, and grommets fitted in my ears. Not long after it was discovered that I have dyspraxia and I attended countless appointments to correct my walking and help improve my motor skills. The old Alder Hey Children's Hospital in Liverpool was pretty much a home away from home growing up. Some of my earliest memories are of walking down the corridors and looking in memorisation at all the cartoon paintings on the walls.

In my early teens, everything was fine. Until at the age of fourteen I decided to (And failed to) climb an eight-foot fence on a field, falling and shattering both of my arms. I spent four days in Ormskirk District General Hospital and got to know the staff quite quickly as they had to play tug of war with my arms to rebreak them before surgery. The operation was a success, but I later discovered that my left arm was in such a bad state that it wasn’t supposed to have any mobility again. The team were all impressed at the brilliant work the surgeon did in fixing my arms, as was I!

Four uneventful years followed until November 2013 when I visited my GP due to tiredness, relentless thirst, frequent trips to the loo, and drastic weight loss. My GP diagnosed me with Type 1 Diabetes and rushed me to Aintree University Hospital where I spent an entire day getting a multitude of tests to confirm that I was indeed a Type 1 Diabetic. Over the subsequent months I had many hospital appointments, supported by the diabetes team at Aintree University Hospital and then in 2014 the diabetes team at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital. As it is routine to test for other autoimmune diseases, more tests were carried out and in September 2014 I was diagnosed with coeliac disease.

As you can tell by now I have well and truly gotten to know many hospitals within the NHS. I’ve been in an array of departments and met a lot of professionals in the medical world, all through being a patient. The NHS has shaped my life and my identity, especially as a Type 1 Diabetic. The ground-breaking technology and life-saving treatments that I have received are a testament to the NHS's commitment to improving patients' lives. The technology available to me has changed my life. I have had the opportunity to explore and live in other countries, experience different cultures, meet so many wonderful people, and I've had to the chance to truly feel alive. All thanks to the care, support, and medicine that I have received from the NHS.

The prospect of a world without the NHS terrifies me. I have read horror stories of fellow Type 1 Diabetics in other countries, facing agonising choices between paying for basic needs, or paying for insulin to stay alive. We simply cannot go backwards. The NHS is the backbone of our nation, and it is the reason why I am alive, here today, writing this article. It is my lifeline, and I am eternally indebted to the selfless people who toil tirelessly, safeguarding our well-being. They’re the definition of heroes and have been the foundation of our society for the past seventy-five years. So happy birthday NHS, here's to another seventy-five years of an enduring legacy, safeguarding lives and serving as a beacon of hope for generations to come!

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