Friday, November 15, 2013

Type 2 Diabetes - Living With and Loving Those Who Have It ~ Stories of Family Members

My deepest and most sincere gratitude to those who were willing to share their stories with me. Diabetes is a complex disease as it is, but the fact that so many people have an emotional relationship with food makes it worse. Add in the fact that food is a necessity to survive, and it becomes more so. We have to eat. Having diabetes just makes every meal difficult. Every choice becomes important. Every indulgence dangerous. The food you need to survive could be the very thing that kills you. 

Some people can't accept the lifestyle changes that are part of this disease. Some pretend they don't have it, minimize it's impact in their lives, convince themselves that they will escape the complications that happen to other people.  

With love and respect, their stories.

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My dad was diagnosed as diabetic at age 66. My mother had suspected for about 5 years that he was becoming diabetic. There were 2 problems in getting a proper diagnosis: He is extremely doctor-phobic, and he was getting close to retirement. Since mom prepares all of his meals due to his severe food allergies, she started trying to regulate his diet as much as possible. Also she made him cut down on sugary drinks and snacks. After he retired she finally got him to see a doctor.

She told the doctor all her observations and had to basically bully the doctor into doing a blood test because "I couldn't possibly know what I was talking about." Yeah Dad's blood sugar was in the 500s. Mom got a LOT more respect from the doctor at that point.

It took Dad about 3 years from diagnosis to be able to say "I'm diabetic." Mom did all the meter stuff, charted how well each different medication worked and consulted with the doctor until they found the right "mix". She still regulates his diet, hands him his meds on schedule, all that stuff.

Unfortunately, going that long undiagnosed had a very bad effect on Dad's eyesight, to the point that he can no longer drive and has trouble seeing large print. I'm sure there are other complications that they haven't shared with me.
- Joy

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I'm not totally sure where to start. My step dad, Bill Boye, came into my life when I was 15 yrs old. Since I had a strained relationship with my real father, Bill immediately became my hero. He had already been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes for about 15 yrs at that point. He and my mom got engaged, he moved into our house, that's when diabetes really became a part of my life. Blood glucose meters on counters, watching carbs and sugar grams on packages, seeing the different attitudes with the different sugar levels. Bill always said "I don't drink alcohol because I'm diabetic" .. Yet he was the 1st in line for chocolate cake. Regardless of his illness Bill was my rock, he supported me thru so MANY things, defended me when I made mistakes, lifted me up higher for my accomplishments. He encouraged me to apply for a dispatcher position w/ SDPD, I did and got the job, he was soooo proud. He was my DAD. 

As the years went on, Bill continued to not mind his diet, his weight was never under control. He ate junk food in secret, his car was full of wrappers and trash that he tried to hide from the family. My mom would get so frustrated, all of us would. We'd lecture, cook him meals, make him walk with us.. But just like leading a horse to water ... You can't force someone to take care of themselves. When I was 25 my real father died, February of 2003, hardest month of my life, so many unresolved issues and I felt like he didn't know I loved him. Bill hugged me, told me he loved me & he knew my dad was my angel. Then Bill got sick, ended up having quadruple bypass, heart valve replacement surgery. I went to see him after surgery & he didn't know me.. It was devastation all over again. He did recover though, thank god. He was forced to stop being a patrol officer, a job that defined who he was, he went to a desk job, retiring within 2 yrs. Even after his surgery he didn't eat right, didn't exercise. His legs were so sore and his circulation so bad that he got his 1st gangrenous sore, it was disgusting and painful. It healed slightly, but never fully. 

He and my mom decided to move from sunny SoCal to the wilds of Idaho, well Cour D'Alene, for their retirement. Very far from all their SoCal family, but something they wanted to experience. During the brief 3 yrs they lived there Bill became totally insulin dependent, but just didn't want to take it, he would take his oral meds, just not injections. He then went into total renal failure, got another gangrenous sore on his leg, this one led to an amputation just above his left knee. He rehab'd, sorta, he refused to try the prosthetic leg, stopped showering regularly, refused to shave his face. He became VERY depressed.

My mom and he moved back to San Diego, she needed her family to support & help her. 

My mom injured herself lifting his wheelchair in and out of her SUV, I had to go over there and help any time he needed to go somewhere. Of course, I did it, but it was hard.. I was a single mom who worked at least 50 hrs a week, I lived 30 mins from their house. I was the only one who he allowed to take him for haircuts, I shaved his face on a regular basis. I put diabetic lotion on his hands. My mom became very depressed. As mothers and daughters will do we fought. I got really mad at her and she got really mad at me. That was the weekend of July 4th, 2009. Bill was facing an amputation, from gangrene on his right hand. I had yelled at my mom to go see a counselor and get on depression meds. She left, Bill and I were alone, I convinced him to let me clean up his haircut and shave his beard. We chatted about a SWAT incident that I had worked and he had seen on tv. We laughed, I left for work. My mom left for a weekend at her moms, about 75 miles away in Hemet,CA. That Monday, she called me, I almost hit ignore for the call, but answered. All she said was "baby I need you, Billy is being transported to the hospital from dialysis. It doesn't sound good." I made it the 30 miles to her house in 15 minutes. We drove to the hospital and learned he had died from a massive heart attack. He was only 65 yrs old. 

I still think of him daily, I just got married this past Sunday and dedicated a "memorial" table with pictures of Bill, my father Dave and my grandpa, John. My husband reminds me SO MUCH of Bill. He's a police officer, he smiles just like Bill, he'd give you the shirt off his back just like Bill.. He however takes care of his type 2 diabetes with diet. Yup.. I married a man with type 2, even living thru that nightmare, I know that some can own the disease.. Eric is one of those. 

- Amber Miller

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My family has a history of diabetes. Two of my Aunts had it and had heart problems and strokes eventually. My older brother has recently been diagnosed with it and it's like he's given up. He won't walk anywhere, he rides a scooter. He's only 50. He won't come to family occasions anymore because he can't get the scooter up my 5 porch stairs. His legs are starting to swell probably due to inactivity and he's had a pacemaker put in. All in the past year. 

When they try to take him off his pain meds he throws a fit and won't take his other meds until he's back in the hospital again and gets more. He used to complain that no one would help him and then we finally got him some help and insurance and it seems like he's just gotten worse. He's getting to the point where he's getting does on his feet all the time and he could get nerve damage if the swelling continues. 

My younger sister also has diabetes and she has to use catheters to pee, she's only 40. She had to check her sugar at least twice a day and hers can go either way so she had to carry glucose tablets with her. 

Lately when I go to my Dr, she keeps checking my sugar, says it's fine, has ran blood tests that came back fine, but she still lectures me on diabetes. I find it very stressful and it's causing me to stress eat, lol. I actually want to avoid the Dr now cause I don't want the dumb diabetes lecture. I know about it. I see it everyday. I thought about switching Drs and decided that I was going to discuss it with her at my next appointment instead.
- Melissa

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My husband has been having medical issues lately. His last lab test showed sugar in his urine. Having a daughter with Type 1 Diabetes, we knew what that meant. The doctor was not diagnosing it yet and wanted to do an A1c test. 

The A1C showed slight elevation but the doctor still was not confirming what was inevitable. Meanwhile, our daughter's Diabetic Alert Dog started catching blood sugars over 200 in my husband. With the dog being able to find the high blood sugars and reporting it to the doctor, my husband was able to be diagnosed much sooner and we could start taking care of it right away.
- Anonymous

1 comment:

  1. Bravely shared stories, and important testimonies. Thanks for these.

    ReplyDelete

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