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LIVINGLIVING

MY DIABETES KIT

A

professional actor based

in Cornwall and recently

on tour with Miracle

Theatre in Life's A Dream,

Steve Jacobs handles a

busy schedule along with his diabetes.

In his career he's played Estragon in

Waiting for Godot, Sherlock in the Death

of Sherlock Holmes, King Lear in Lear,

Lennox in Macbeth (for the RSC) as well

as putting in appearances on the small

screen in Inspector Wycliffe, Mapp and

Lucia and The Bill.

These days he mostly works with

theatre companies based near his home

in Cornwall, these being Miracle Theatre,

where he often has to play more than

one part in each play, and WildWorks,

where every show is an adventure. He is

particularly fond of this company as the

plays are undertaken in open spaces.

He says, "We work in different locations

such as a castle in France, a harbour in

Malta, a derelict war-torn location on the

green line in Cyprus, or actually inside

the tin mines of Cornwall. This touring

company is a collaboration between

theatre practitioners, artists, musicians,

choirs as well as local communities.

Occasionally I do a little TV. I'll be making

a brief appearance in the new series of

Poldark where I play the landlord of the

London Inn on Bodmin moor."

An actor's life is rarely a steady one,

yet Jacobs has undertaken the last 35

years of his career while juggling his Type

1 diabetes. He had just completed his

STEVE JACOBS

studies at the Guildhall School of Music

and Drama in London when he was

diagnosed, aged 22, after a brief period

of illness. He says, "I recall my diagnosis

vividly, though it's now nearly 35 years

ago. Although I'd been born in London

and came back to study there, I was

raised in Cornwall and had just been

offered a job there. I was due to travel

down there to start a new acting project,

and it was a big one."

Double jeapardy

What had driven him to the doctors

was a dose of thrush and only when he

started to talk about how he was feeling

did he realise that he'd also lost weight

and been thirsty and had recently been

unexpectedly ill. "I expected to get a tube

of cream, not a diagnosis that would be

with me forever. The doctor was kind. I

hadn't gone to the GP but walked into

St Barts Hospital. Once I explained my

dilemma about the job and he said it

would be possible to go, but I'd need to

go straight to hospital when I got there,

and that the adjustment to the new life

would not be easy. So I set off. I had a

diabetes manual in one hand and a great

big script for a play in the other. I didn't

have a blood test machine but I did

have a box with a glass syringe in it and

a vial of insulin and some needles. I did

have some urine sticks. I started on one

injection a day using that glass syringe.

I've used it since as a prop, and I still have

it! I played Sherlock Holmes once and

used the syringe to pretend to take my

opium! I was very strict with my diet and

did exactly as I was told. It was a massive

learning curve, as was the script."

Currently Jacobs attends Truro's Royal

Cormwall Hospital. He went on multiple

daily injections in the 1980s when the

insulin pen became available which

he felt did make life a lot more flexible.

But he's taken a long time to adapt to

using human insulin (that being the one

grown in vats on bacteria, as opposed

to insulin sourced from animals). He had

a bad series of hypos when he was first

transitioned, so he went back to animal

insulin. "I didn't get any hypo warning

signals. I had a hypo in a swimming pool,

and I had one when I was holding a kettle

full of hot water. In both cases it was really

scary and I just didn't think it was safe."

Trying times

With some persuasion he gave it another

go several years ago but came back to

animal again, then only in the last 18

months has he been able to get to some

sort of grips with human insulin, though

he says he's still trying to find the balance.

Showing the changing times, his 17-yearold son

Jowan (the Cornish form of John)

was diagnosed with Type 1 when he was

12-years-old and went straight on to

human insulin. Jowan also tried an insulin

pump, but as he's a keen surfer he found

it did not fit in with his lifestyle, though he

can go back on it anytime. However Steve

is now considering going on one, saying,

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