Diabetes and me . . .

Posted: November 5, 2011 in Diabetes
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Based on some of my earlier posts or tweets on Twitter, you may have surmised I have some personal connection to diabetes.   So I thought I would take a moment to share some more information with you.

My grandfather, who is deceased now, had diabetes.  His perspective of diabetes was very different from how it is today.  In the 60’s insulin was the main treatment for diabetes and urine test strips had just been invented.  The single use syringe was introduced in 1961.  Prior to that diabetics had to use glass syringes, which had large needles and had to go through a  sterilization process each time it was used.  The first portable glucose meter was created in 1969.  The way my grandfather had to manage his diabetes is entirely different that how it is done today.

As a child I knew my grandfather had diabetes.  I also knew that he restricted his diet from sugar products or that is how it was perceived by me.  I don’t recall other dietary restrictions.  I know he was insulin dependant.  I don’t know how old he was when he was diagnosed, and I never saw any evidence of his diabetes.  No testing.  No shots.  They may have been happening; I just didn’t know anything about them.  I did know that at Thanksgiving my grandmother made him a sugar-free pumpkin pie.

My mother was diagnosed with diabetes in her late 30’s. She has type 2 diabetes.  She started her treatment with medication and dietary adjustments.  Later she was put on insulin.  She has always struggled with her diabetes.  Testing and taking insulin shots has been a normal part of her life. 

My father has type 1 diabetes.  He was diagnosed in his 60’s.  Initially they treated him as if he had type 2 diabetes.  At that time, type 1 diabetes was considered a disorder only for children.  After battling to control his blood sugar levels for a while, his doctor finally determined he had type 1 diabetes.  He was immediately put on insulin. 

As a side note, my parents had a dog who became diabetic, which was late in his life, and he was insulin dependant.  At one point my mother, my father and the dog all took injections of insulin.

So, with this type of family history I was waiting for the day when I would be diagnosed with diabetes.  Three years ago my doctor said I had pre-diabetes.  I was introduced to testing my blood and adjusting my diet.  Then in July of  last year, I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.  Obviously, I am monitoring my blood, adjusting my diet, and taking metformin. 

Even though I knew it was coming, this diagnosis caused a big revelation for me.  I realized I needed to make some major changes in my life. Memories of my parents dealing with the disease flashed before me.  I also recollected the situation of one of my uncles with his diabetes.  Eventually, he had become partially blind and ended up on dialysis because his kidneys failed. 

More importantly, I thought about my son.  What if something happened to me and I was not able to help him?  He has numerous health issues including:  epilepsy, Tourette syndrome, an anxiety disorder, sensory integration syndrome, obsessive compulsive disorder, and non-epileptic seizures.  In addition to all of this he has learning disabilities.  His life is not easy, and I wanted to make sure I would be here to support him into his adulthood, if need be.

So I took my diagnosis very seriously.  I test my glucose levels religiously.  I also drastically changed my diet.  I started an exercise routine. As of now I have lost 35 pounds.  Hopefully I can keep this momentum up.

Unexpectedly, last year I took my son to the emergency room.  He looked awful and couldn’t stop throwing up.  To this day I am shocked about what the doctor determined.  My son has Type 1 diabetes.  I guess I should have seen this coming, especially with our family history.  Since he was diagnosed, he started using an insulin pump.  Diabetes has fully encompassed our lives and it has become a family affair.

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