Friday, July 27, 2012

I Can Walk the Walk (Not Just Talk the Talk)!

My father was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes when he was around 40 years old. I am now 38 years old. My father has 7 siblings. I believe that at this point all but 2 of them either have Type 2 or are prediabetic. One of the 2 that does not is deceased so that's only one living without it. That is a lot of diabetes. Some of them are of a healthy weight. Some of them are not. I say this because it proves to me that it is not JUST about weight. I realize not eating the right foods and exercising contribute to it. But I recognize that with so many people genetically linked....something else is also going on there. My husband's grandfather was a Type 1 diabetic and died at a fairly early age of heart disease.

You'd think that would be enough of a wake up call for me to say that I should do what I can to prevent a type 2 diagnosis. Sadly, it never has. A few years ago, my mother also received the news that she was a diabetic. Instead of that being my wake up call, I just felt doomed. Damned if I did something about it...damned if I did nothing about it.

I have heard the word "diabetes" for as long as I can remember. My cousin who I grew up with is a Type 1 diabetic like Alex. She was diagnosed around the age of 6, about the time I was born. I don't remember thinking much about it though. We visited her all the time, even lived with her for a short time after my parents separated. I always remember the syringes in the kitchen drawer and the times my aunt tested her urine for blood glucose (no blood testing for it back then). But she received like 2 shots a day and we weren't really present for them. I just remember her mom always feeding her and making her stop and have snacks because that's how she prevented the lows. I remember another cousin and I always sneaking upstairs in the morning while everyone was asleep to eat frosting out of cake mate tubes which were always in abundance in the kitchen. I always wondered why my aunt never had cookies though. I am guessing the cake mate wasn't for cookies now that I am a mom of a diabetic. I know what those cake mate tubes are for.

You'd think with all that diabetes I'd know something about it. You'd think I would have seen the symptoms in my own child. But at the same time, I have lived in the west now for over 15 years. My family lives on the east coast. I don't visually see their diabetes. We don't discuss it at length. Heck, I hope no one is mad at me if I am "outing" them. I just know everyone seems to have it but when I see them at reunions, I don't see that they have an illness. I don't know what it means. At least I didn't know. At most, some of them have tried to gently talk to me about my own weight and health. I've always nodded and heard them...but never listened.

I have had a few blips in the past several years where I've tried to do something about my food choices. I've always failed miserably. And now I am going to be brutally honest and share something I've never shared with anyone...I've had an A1C come back slightly above 6. I've been told it was considered prediabetic. This was a few years ago. I busted butt and lost about 25 pounds and my A1C dropped back down. But that was a few years ago. I haven't had my blood tested in a long while. I know I need to.

Now let's fast forward to the story everyone knows...December 20, 2011. Would my daughter getting Type 1 (which I KNOW HAS NOTHING TO DO WITH TYPE 2 DIABETES OR WHAT SHE EATS) be my wake up call? How can I teach my daughter to eat better and exercise so that her life can be healthy despite a Type 1 diagnosis if I CANNOT DO THOSE THINGS???

But at the same time learning what Type 1 is and learning to basically be the pancreas for my takes everything out of me. The shots....the blood tests...the cell phone alarm that buzzes at 3 AM and then sometimes makes it such that I can't go back to sleep...the stress...the worry...the bills...the husband that works crazy hours to pay the bills leaving me to be a single parent...the other child with ADD who would forget his head if it wasn't own ADD which has to be managed in order to manage the other ADD child and now the diabetic's A LOT. I spent many months depressed and just trying to make it through each day. It hasn't been easy. It just hasn't. Some days I just want to curl up on the sofa and grab a pint of ice cream and escape my world. But now I have to hide it when I eat that ice cream...because I don't want my daughter to see it.

Then I got this email from the American Diabetes Association. They were doing a walk in October - Step Out to Stop Diabetes. It's not like a marathon or anything. You can choose to walk the 1K or the 5K. And, I started to think about it...because I also received information about the JDRF walk which follows closely to the ADA walk. I just can't do both so close together. I made a decision this year that we would do the Step Out walk. We would commit to supporting JDRF in other ways throughout the spring. We may do the JDRF walk another year. Maybe we'll alternate. I don't know. Not a bridge I need to cross right now. But I thought about my mom and my dad. I thought about my aunts and my uncles. I thought about Alex. And I thought about myself. And I decided, we needed to do this walk.

And, if we were doing this walk, how could I personally DO THIS WALK if I was living a life that was setting myself up for diabetes? My daughter will never have the opportunity to  exercise and eat different foods and make her diabetes go away or get better. I HAVE THAT opportunity. And I'm throwing it away while I try to tell her how to eat and how to exercise. Can you say HYPOCRITE???

So about 2 weeks ago, I decided I was DONE being a hypocrite. If anything I have always tried to be an honest person who did the right thing. This is the right thing. I started reading books about eating healthy. I threw out all our white flour, white bread, white sugar things. I've been choosing to eat and prepare things for the family that are on the low glycemic index and made from whole foods/grains. I gave up caffeine and cut back on caffeine free soda to 2 per day (and hope to kick it altogether soon). I've been swimming and using the Wii Fit again (curse the Wii trainer who told me it had been 914 days since my last visit and it didn't know if it remembered my name).

I've lost 7 pounds. I haven't been starving. I FEEL better. I feel less depressed. I feel less angry. I feel more calm. I know my ability to focus on this given my ADD which does butt its ugly head in alot is due in part to Alex being on the pump. The insulin pump has freed alot of my focus and energy from those damn shots I hated giving. Yes, we still have alot to do with Alex but something about those shots weighed us all down more than anything else.

Alex started doing Wii Fit the other day. She has been watching me. Just like I know she was watching me eat ice cream I tried to hide on the couch. I can do this for her. I can do this for me.

And we can walk for Alex at Step Out. And we can walk for all my other family that has this disease and for all those I don't know who have to live with this. Maybe it isn't much...but it's something. And I can meet this goal.

Can you help us? Consider donating to our team. We are so blessed and thankful of our friends and family who have supported us! It has been encouraging and heartwarming in so many ways.


  1. Thank you for sharing this...and for your honesty. This battle is so hard and I identified with a lot of what you posted.

  2. Thanks for the kind words. It's not easy but nothing good is ever easy, right?

  3. Good post. I do the food hiding thing too. Since Kork's diagnosis 2 1/2 years ago, I've gone through spurts of eating healthy and excercising. Sometimes I'm really good at it, sometimes I really suck at it, but I keep coming back to it. Each time I hope I can stick it out, for me and for my family.

  4. That's partly why I wrote this - because whenever there is a time I want to make a poor choice, I can come back and read this. And, it will remind me what the results of my choices are.