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Former prime minister Brian Mulroney is shown in his Montreal office on Jan. 20, 2011.

christinne muschi The Globe and Mail

Brian Mulroney is coming to grips with needles, injections and the fact that insulin is now a major part of his life.

The 71-year-old former prime minister was recently diagnosed with diabetes and must inject himself three times a day with insulin.

"I view the whole thing positively as best I can," he said in an interview, noting that his experience is nothing like that of children with juvenile diabetes who have to be injected all of their lives.

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"So it kind of dawned on me, as I said to Mila, 'Honey, I don't have anything to complain about.' I'll just do this on a regular basis as I'm told and put my head down and mind my own business and just live my life with this.

"Compared to what the young children have, it's nothing."

Late last June, Mr. Mulroney thought something was not quite right when he began to feel weak, falling asleep at 9 p.m. every night.

The fatigue came on just after he had returned from Istanbul, where he had delivered a convocation address at the university.

But he had already scheduled his annual medical check-up for early September, so he decided wait until then to see if anything was amiss.

Was it ever.

"I went to my medical exams and when they checked out my blood it was off the scale. I was right off the hit parade," Mr. Mulroney recalled. "So they put me in the hospital right away. I was in the hospital for a week while they fully diagnosed it and got me turned around."

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Mr. Mulroney, it seems, had consumed something in Istanbul that led him to contract hepatitis E. It attacked his liver. It didn't help that in 2005 he had suffered from an inflammation of the pancreas, losing 35 pounds and prompting rumours that he was dying.

"So in my case it stopped feeding insulin," he says. "I didn't know about it so by the time we all found out I was a full-blown diabetic. I'm knee-deep into insulin now."

Since his diagnosis on Sept. 8, he said, he has been under doctor's care and is being well looked after.

"I feel terrific," he said.

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