Saturday, April 7, 2012

About me

Today's WEGO prompt was free writing. And I decided to write about something about myself.

The first thing that not many people know about me is that my grandmother had diabetes. When she was diagnosed in 1927 or 1928, insulin was commercially available, and so she was never at risk of dying, as she would have been just a few years earlier. And she was an adult at the time, just like I was at diagnosis.

She had young children in the house at the time, and my mother remembered coming home from school to find her lying on the couch with a wet rag on her forehead nearly every day. And that she would always eat puffed rice cereal in the afternoon. I wonder whether she was having hypos every day. The insulin available at the time was pretty crude, and pretty unpredictable, so it's not an unlikely scenario.

I also remember living with her for a short while when I was about three. I have a clear memory of the black bakelite case she kept her syringe in, and her boiling it on the stove, and her pulling up her dress to give herself a shot in the thigh. So my child mind made the association between shots and old people, and when I started to study diabetes seriously after my own diagnosis, it initially seemed weird to me that it was the children who needed the shots and that the older folks (T2s) could often use pills!

Because of my grandmother's struggles with diabetes, my family was terrified of the disease, and I was raised not being allowed to eat sugar or candy or chocolate or cake or cookies, because at the time (1950's) they believed that eating sugar caused diabetes (as well as tooth decay -- my father was a dentist). And I still have the admonition ringing in my head: "Natalie, don't eat that -- you'll get diabetes!" Not a nice thought to grow up with.

So when I was diagnosed, I was distraught, because in my head, all that I could think of was the voices saying "I told you so, I told you so!"

So having diabetes has always been a rocky road for me. I continually struggle with accepting the reality that I DO have it, and that it's NOT going to go away while I'm not looking. And that in truth, I CAN'T tolerate much in the way of sweets and carbs, which, because of my restrictive childhood diet, still seem like attractive forbidden fruits to me.

Every so often, I go into rebellion mode, and omit insulin, just to prove to myself that I really DO have diabetes. I know that this is not the healthiest behavior in the world, but it remains part of my emotional struggle. And for me, the emotional part is by far the most difficult part of living with diabetes.


  1. Chocolates and ice cream seem like forbidden fruits to me too, but I didn't like sweets or fizzy drinks as a child.

    Wearing an insulin pump sometimes makes me forget I have diabetes (except at meals), and when the thing beeps at me, there's a stark realisation: Oh that's right… I have diabetes!

    Psychologically we each deal with it in our own way, but to me, it's always a sobering thought that if this was 100 years ago, we wouldn't be alive! Does the general public really understand this? I doubt it!

    Your candour is to be applauded! It's hard to admit the things we knowingly do that aren't necessarily the best decisions for our diabetes health.

  2. My grandmother was diabetic also. Unfortunately back then, they didn't know the things we know today. I am sorry that you had to experience that as a kid.