Today is National American Diabetes Association Alert Day. This issue is very near and dear to my heart. I kind of touched on why in my About Me Page.
My grandma had diabetes and I was like a nurse for her throughout my youth until her death. I made sure she got her pills on time. I made sure she ate on time. There were times I had to forgo going out with friends because there was no one else willing/available to be with her and someone had to be with her at all times to make sure she was ok and ate. She was not able to go up and down stairs. She was overweight and her knees and back ached because of that and other complications that comes with having diabetes.
She was on pills for a long time until that was not doing the job, then she was upgraded to insulin shots daily. That was the worst for me because I hate needles. It was enough for me to see her have to check her blood daily but the insulin shots were longer needles that had to go in her stomach.
It’s painful to watch someone you love go through such pain and uncomfortability.
She was not on insulin for too long though because, at some point one of her toes turned black, which if you know diabetes, this is the worst thing to see. This usually means amputation will be done. My grandma never made it to that stage though, because all her organs started to fail. She was quickly sentenced to go home on hospice.
I have a huge family. My grandma had 8 children and they all have children and grandchildren. Basically, everyone came to NYC to my home to be with grandma in her last days. Home health aids who had taken care of her in years past also came to give their condolences.
This was the most traumatic experience for me. I dealt with grief 11 years after that point. I was angry with the treatment she received at the hospital and my lack of knowledge at that time compared to now. I was angry with the doctors and the nutritionists for the diet they put her on, which I now understand is a maintenance diet so the drugs continue to work at the level the doctors prescribe. It’s not a diet that reverses the illness, which can be reversed in 2 weeks for a lot of people. Years of pain and sadness from loss of someone who was so much a part of my life.
But her suffering was a learning experience for me. I learned at the funeral that everyone deals with grief differently.
I dealt with it by really just wanting to curl up into a ball and die myself. I lashed out at people (my roommates at college) and I never explained to them what was happening in my life. I didn’t feel like anyone would understand the pain I was going through. It was like my heart was ripped out of my chest.
My brother and some male cousins went and got tattoos of grandma on their arms or back. At the funeral, they huffed and puffed and emotionally broke down. I had never seen men cry before then.
I had aunts spit nasty comments to my mother and I because of their own pain. This made me then develop hate for them.
My huge family literally unravelled during this time. We were so tight when grandma was alive and when she passed it was like a glass ball had dropped and broken and we were all just scattered pieces.
The other lesson I learned though was that food is never worth all of this. It was not worth the pain my grandma endured, it was not worth the pain the family endured from losing her so quickly and unexpectedly and it was not worth losing a family over.
She passed in 2004 and in 2008 I moved to California with my husband and was exposed to the raw vegan lifestyle. The science made sense to me and I was very much open to taking care of myself. I did not want to end up like my grandmother. I love my parents and my siblings and my husband and the rest of my family too much to put them through what I went through with my grandma.
I’m definitely not blaming my grandma because she didn’t know better. She was a hard working immigrant from Jamaica who managed to hustle and make sure all her kids came to this country and could do well financially. She was an amazingly smart, generous and loving person. She was strong, emotionally and spiritually very strong. I often draw on her strength when life overwhelms me. I know I can because she did. She was a great example for me.
Now, she lives on in my memories and thoughts. I bring her into my coaching practice, especially when dealing with clients who are pre-diabetic.
If you or someone you know is dealing with diabetes, please read Dr. Neal Barnard’s Program for Reversing Diabetes. If you want additional guidance and coaching along your journey, book a free consult with me so we can get you started. Everyday is an opportunity to make progress towards your wellness goals.
Diabetes is reversible. Work towards assisting your body to heal so you can live a long, healthy life and enjoy your loved ones while you have time on this Earth.