Half The Mother, Twice The Love: My Journey to Better Health with Diabetes by Mother Love with Tonya Bolden
My Journey to Better Health with Diabetes
by Mother Love with Tonya Bolden
Copyright © 2006 by Atria Books.
Provided with permission from Atria Books.
Excerpted from Chapter 3 – It's Not Just a Little Sugar
Meanwhile, diabetes was still claiming family. My paternal grandmother died of a diabetes-induced heart attack in 1978. That same year, our mother, age forty-five, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – aka adult onset. Unlike Brenda, Momma's body had not stopped producing insulin but had stopped using it efficiently. My mother didn't view the diagnosis as a wake-up call. "It's just a little sugar," she insisted.
My mother didn't think about stopping to smell the roses or engaging in any kind of self-reflection. Like most people we knew, the idea of changing her "lifestyle" was foreign to her. She didn't think she had a lifestyle. All she had was a life, and she felt lucky to have that. It's my sense that my mother felt that being a diabetic paled in comparison to all she had been through. She kept doing what she was doing – and then some – after she became a widow at age thirty. She survived. She kept doing what she was doing after a rear-end collision send her through a windshield at age forty-two. After my mother was diagnosed with diabetes, her MO did not change; she kept living the way she always had. She'd have to go to the doctor a little more – shrug. It was no big deal. "It's just a little sugar." Though I've never seen any hard data linking stress and diabetes, I'm convinced that stress contributed to my mother's health problems.
Later in 1978, when my sister Paula was in her first trimester with the baby girl who would b e her only child, she was diagnosed with a kind of diabetes that emerges during pregnancy. Gestational diabetes usually disappears after childbirth, and that's what happened with my sister. She figured she was in the clear and did nothing to change her lifestyle – kept smoking and drinking, kept overeating and not exercising. Then, about two years after she had her daughter, diabetes reared its ugly head again. In 1981 she joined the ranks of people with type 2. Doctors now know that women who get gestational diabetes are almost guaranteed to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes later in life.
Paula took the news that she would have t take insulin shots for the rest of her life in stride. Like Brenda, like Momma, Paula was at risk for a host of problems and possibly a shorter life, but she kept rolling as if nothing had happened. "It's just a little sugar." That's what many people we knew said of diabetes. Just about every diabetic we knew seemed to know of another diabetic who ate pork rinds, smoked, and did anything else they pleased and lived as long as Methuselah.
The street name "sugar" is the worst that ever happened to the diabetes community. The word sounds light and innocent – sweet. The image obscures the bitter reality of this disease.
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