Family’s heartbreak after “vivacious”, young graphic designer died suddenly of diabetes

Poplar Coroners Court

Poplar Coroners Court - Credit: Archant

A vivacious, talented graphic designer nicknamed “the fun machine,” died suddenly aged just 34 as a result of the diabetes she had suffered from since a teenager.

n inquest into Annika Mary Lyons’ death heard she did not let the chronic condition get in the way of what she wanted to do, remaining hard-working, energetic, and enjoying cycling.

But her brother Julian Lyons, who had moved from Dublin to Hackney in 2006, prompting his sister to follow, told Poplar Coroner’s Court that her diabetes had been unstable for some time.

“We didn’t really pick up on it as quick as we would have liked, she was unable to detect when her blood sugars were low, whereas initially there were quite obvious tell tale signs,” he said.

“Any young person struggles to get used to taking insulin and totally changing your diet, but in the last few years she managed well.

“She didn’t talk about it and that was one of the saddest things we found at the end, when she was managing it the best, she was struggling.

“She never wanted to have me worrying about it.

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“The one thing which possibly wasn’t picked up by her doctors is how tired Annika was, that’s a big sign of deterioration in a diabetic’s health.”

Poplar Coroner’s Court heard that she spent time with her family at a barbecue a week before her death.

Her friend raised the alarm on May 17 when she did not turn up to meet him, and she was found collapsed in her room in the house she shared in Gunton Road, Lower Clapton.

Her glucose level was 1.4, compared to a normal range of 3-7.8, indicating hypoglycaemia – a medical emergency involving an abnormally low level of glucose in the blood.

Ms Lyons, who also suffered from other complications associated with diabetes like eye and thyroid problems and high blood pressure, had been told her kidneys were slowly failing the week before she died.

The Coroner, Jacqueline Devonish, ruled a natural cause of death, saying: “Hypoglycaemia is a well established form of sudden death in diabetes, on that basis it couldn’t have been predicted because she appeared to be quite well when she went to the doctor a few days before.”

Her mother Andrea told the court: “I would just like to say she was a wonderful sound girl, very creative and we miss her terribly.”

On the Facebook page, “A tribute to the fun machine that was Annika Lyons”, her friend Keith Barry said Annika had been a dear friend to him and so many others.

He said: “When Annika decided someone was going to be a friend, that was the end of it and she let you know in so many ways that your friendship was really important to her, such a wonderful and rare quality, such a warm and kind soul.

Vanessa Detrez added: “The words I remember you by will always be, Sparkling .... Joyful and dancing Queen ..”