Over the past three years I have lost just over sixty pounds. My motivation wasn’t to look beautiful or to feel more loved or to fit into the latest fashions. My motivation was that I didn’t want to die. Having Chickasaw and Cherokee blood, my family is predisposed to diabetes. I have lost many loved ones to this disease.
My mother died at age 52 when she slipped into a diabetic coma at home alone. She was already nearly blind from glaucoma, had to have a toe amputated after scraping it on a brick, could barely walk and had congestive heart failure.
My cousin died at age 28 from diabetes complications. She was also nearly blind from glaucoma and her kidneys were failing. She was considered too weak for a transplant and was taken off the recipients list. A week later, she had to have her leg amputated. A week after that, she was gone. I had grown up with her. We had sleep overs and played Barbies and pretended we were horses in the back yard. And she was gone. Her father was gone not long after from a heart attack.
Now, my brother and two sisters, all my siblings, have Type 2 diabetes. I already watch them suffer, especially my treasured sister that has Fibromyalgia and Lupus. I am the only one that doesn’t have it (yet). I am determined to do everything in my power not to develop diabetes myself. I was once diagnosed as being borderline diabetic but now everything is normal due to the simple fact that I started riding horses and get more exercise than my siblings. But that doesn’t mean I can’t develop it later.
Also, I was diagnosed with PCOS, Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome, which includes being Insulin Resistant. My body makes tons of insulin but doesn’t use it. Insulin is the key that unlocks your cells so they can use glucose. Without this “key” of insulin, your blood sugar rises. When your blood sugar remains too high, you don’t feel well and you develop all sorts of nasty symptoms. Eventually, your pancreas that generates all that extra insulin, gets tired and cannot produce as much or any at all. This is diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is where your pancreas doesn’t produce any insulin and you have to have insulin injections. Type 2 diabetes is diet related and can be controlled and even reversed.
I think I was lucky they found this in me because they immediately started me on a medication called Glucophage or Metformin here in the UK. This is a diabetes medicine that helps your body use the insulin that it is generating. I started a diet and did more exercise and began to lose weight. It hasn’t happened over night and I have had some back slides and problems, but I just keep going. I would like to lose 45 more pounds and I will feel safer about being healthy enough to possibly avoid type 2 diabetes.
The diets do work and more exercise is a crucial element, but talk therapy has been the most helpful. Realizing why I was overweight and motivating me to do what I need to lose it. It helps to have a support system in place that you can talk to and you won’t feel judged or patronized. You have sound advice and someone that you know will tell you what you need to hear, not what you want to hear.
I watched my mother and cousin do things that diabetics shouldn’t and I wonder if that shortened their time on earth. Losing loved ones is never easy, but watching them do things to themselves whether it was eating the wrong things or smoking or drinking alcohol and not taking care of themselves, it was incredibly hard, wondering if I should have tried to help them more.
My journey isn’t over, and I’m sure that I will always fight against developing diabetes myself. After watching my loved ones suffer and slip away though, it is a fight that I will never surrender.