Very Old, Very Healthy Diabetic

...or die trying.
I was diagnosed in 1998 at the age of 33 with NIDDM or Type 2 diabetes. I come from a diabetic clan. I even married a diabetic. Are you on the diabetes road, too?
This is my goal: to become a very old, very healthy diabetic by day to day choices regarding eating, exercise and medical management. Walk along with me...

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Blog Therapy & Family

Okay, I'm now addicted to blogging. I love it. I can't stop doing it.

I love the chance to write. I love the chance to talk about the things that I think about all the time. I do find it therapeutic. If I had a therapist right now, many of the things that I say in the blog are things I'd be saying to the therapist. However, there would be many things I might say to the therapist that I would not say in the blog.

Part of my experience with diabetes is my relatives' experiences with diabetes. It's tough to write about them here, because 1) many of them read this, 2) they are real people with real feelings and real struggles, and 3) because I've recently realized, that I don't know them very well at all. Certainly not well enough to pass judgment on them in any particular aspect of their lives.

(Well, okay, I might be willing do claim that I know my mother well enough to do that, but would it be true? I don't think so. I generally have only positive things to say about my mom, so I'm not even sure if that applies.)

So, I wish that I were talking about made-up persons, but I'm not. I have met these people. We share genes. I do love them, even those who I don't spend a lot of time with. I don't wish to tear them down in public. I apologize in advance for any offensive thing that I might say about you, if you are one of those poor souls unlucky enough to be related to me and mentioned here. Please let me know and I will issue a more direct and personalized apology. Again, I have recently become aware of how little I really know about my extended family. Life is hard enough without someone saying stupid hurtful things about you or your life. And what do I know anyway?

Are the things I think I know about you true, or are they just the family fiction that I've been told? And how would I be able to know the difference?

I think my paternal grandfather was the first relative in my direct line to be diagnosed with diabetes that I knew of.

The next was my maternal grandmother. Nana grew up in a rural area of Wyoming, complete with blizzards and wind and all. Her mother's family had moved there, a generation before, to be part of a Christian utopian movement, associated with Jireh College. She married my grandfather in the 1930s. Nana and her husband had continued to be part of a fairly conservative, evangelical, Pentecostal Christian churches and lived simple, healthy lives. No smoking. No drinking. No gambling (no games played with standard deck of cards, even).

She was careful with her money and creative with her cooking. (I gotta mention the Mayonnaise Cupcakes, Choco-Nuggets, and Thin Pancakes. I loved them as a kid, but rarely make or eat them anymore. ) There were not a lot of extras in her household. My mom recalls that they got homemade cake on a fairly regular basis, but only got frosting on the cake if it was to celebrate a birthday.

Nana got her diagnosis shortly after my aunt Orlene died of lung cancer, which was prior to 1983. Nana has expressed that she believes that the stress of Orlene's illness and death contributed to her development of diabetes. Nana is now in her middle eighties.

She immediately joined Weight Watchers and kept herself much slimmer for the next several decades. I don't know what drugs she was on after her diagnosis. I don't know when she got her first in-home meter. She has had a diagnosis of intermittent claudication affecting her legs, and stopping her from going on daily walks at least a decade ago. She went through a period of believing that consumption of cow's milk directly contributed to heart disease, so was the first person who's fridge contained soy or rice milk that I ever saw. (Yes, that was before mine did.) She started using tofu and yogurt when I was still turning up my nose at them. (Perhaps I should post her A-Z dip, which is something she developed as an alternative to sour cream based dips.)

She has had clogged carotid arteries and has had them cleaned out, leaving nasty ropy scars on her neck. This problem probably contributed to her hearing loss. She is now seemingly in the early stages of some kind of dementia or, in the least offensive language, cognitive changes.

She has encouraged me, and I would pass this on to you, to not be afraid to go on insulin when the doctors suggest it. Her experience with using insulin for diabetes control has been a good one. The injections of insulin are not as painful as one imagines beforehand, she reports, and not nearly as painful as the fingersticks we all do. (You are testing, aren't you?)

So she has been a type 2 diabetic for over 20 years now, without any significant diabetes complications. She does not have diabetic retinopathy. She does not require dialysis. She does not have neuropathy. She does have significant circulatory issues, which may be contributing to her cognitive decline. And, diabetes probably contributes to her circulation troubles, or her heart troubles contribute to her diabetes. I'm kinda of the opinion that the heart & circulation vs. diabetes issue is sort of a chicken-or-the-egg debate. They go along.

She's had doctors retire on her. Many of her brothers have died, some of diabetes-related problems. Three of her four children have pre-deceased her. And she has still gone on. She is my example of love and service. She is my mother's example of love and service. I hope to be as good a woman as she is. And I hope that I get to reach my middle-eighties with diabetes.

Nana is not one of the relatives who reads this blog regularly. But I sincerely hope that she would not be offended by anything that I have written about her in this post.

She would probably want me to talk more about her faith in Jesus Christ, and about mine, and to urge you to find salvation as she has found it. I find her faith to be inspiring. I aspire to such faith. I also find her experience with diabetes to be inspiring. I shared it, because I hope it also inspires you.


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