Phase Three

That period of life when what was so relevant isn't as relevant. Lighten Up!

Diabetes 2

Items, information about Diabetes – current information as over the years medical approach has changed.

Hi –  This week I was diagnosed as having Diabetes 2. It is not entirely a surpise to me as my numbers have been bordering on a bit too high over the years. I live in USA, and I have learned it is controversial as to whethr it is pre-diabetes or diabetes. Based on my previous numbers, I can say it was pre-diabetes,  and now my numbers have increased putting it into Diabetes range.   My mother died this past summer from what I am learning are complications of long term diabetes to her final diagnosis of cancer (liver). She had not said over the years that she had Diabetes 2, and now I think she rather knew or had been told and chose not to share the information – likely from her own personal guilt or shame or …. I did not hear of her having diabetes until we moved her to our region where she has lived for past 2 + years.  A Dr visit and her Dr dx her as having Diabetes 2. Dr prescribed Metformin for her, and she took for couple weeks, then she announced she would not take it anymore, she said she could Not continue to take it, side effects were too much, and she thought she could better control it with her new sense of appropriate diabetic diet.

When I learned she had diabetes, I was able to get her and I into a 6 week (weekly workshops) on controlling diabetes. I wanted to learn more in attending to her, and at that time I was excited about our Paleo diet and the discipline of purchasing and eating healthy foods. I would hazard to say now, in retrospect, that I was fairly arrogant in the pride I had in our paleo diet as prohibiting onset of Diabetes 2.  Thus would be a boon for her to learn safer ways of nutrition.  We had learned to shop parameters of grocery store; fresh produce, some protein, eggs and some dairy, nuts, and to avoid sugared and preserved foods. Means the discipline we learned eating paleo way will be helpful as we switch now to low carbohydrate diet.

We had moved Mom to our region as on our side of the state there was still specialized attention to limited sight/blindness challenges, and my mother had two eye strokes over the years, was in need of resources to assist her in her limited sight life. The first eye stroke had occurred 11 years earlier, and over the years she had hoped medical could reverse it or assist with it in restoring her eyesight. Despite medical’s efforts, her ‘eye stroke’ situation was irreperable, so she had in fact lost sight in the one good eye (as she called it) she had left. The other eye from birth did not have much sight. I remember trying so hard to learn all about her eye stroke, yet there were so many medical terms, I think I got myself lost in trying to learn the terms. In retrospect, as of this week I have learned via an article, that she had Nonarteritic Anterior Ischemic Optic Neuropathy (N.A.I.O.N.), which afflicts perhaps one in 10,000 Americans. It tends to occur after the age of 50.  What my mother described is exactly as the author describes it.  She awoke one morning and couldn’t see.

N.A.I.O.N.  typically strikes during sleep, when blood pressure drops, and is sometimes associated with sleep apnea, diabetes, hypertension or the use of pills for erectile dysfunction. For medical pharmaceutical there does not seem to be a huge market of potential patients for drug companies to profit from, and not a large pool of subjects to study. I am guessing in retrospect that perhaps drs told her something of this, perhaps not, it was eleven years ago. I remember when my mother was required to use a CPAP and she used it for awhile, then discarded using it as not doing her much good.  My mother came from the Silent Generation, did not ask a lot of questions, if Dr said it was so, she believed it was so, and obediently followed Dr’s instructions.  She did not advocate for herself too much.   She did take her complaints to family, and none of us are skilled medically to be of much aid to her in responding to the deeper questions. Pretty much we know what we know from the current norms of social knowledge.

In looking at some of the other maladies afflicting my mother over the years, ie, foot neuropathy, excessive weight gain, excessive dental problems, IUDs, her eating tendencies,  more especially after her husband died, and most recently while living in our region, her tiredness, her naps, her lack of energy …. I’d say she tried more than valiantly to hide her own fears, concerns, suspicions, and be ‘there’ for her adult children even when her moods, disposition, etc. got in the way. I am feeling quite stupid in that I did not see what seems to be right in front of my face in recognizing symptoms of diabetes, and I did and I didn’t, and assuredly my sibling group and adult children did not recognize the severity of her symptoms either. In that way, I’d say that as supportive as we were as her caregivers, as supportive as her neighbor was as her caregiver in the years before, my mother got through her diabetes quietly with not as much encouraging diabetes support as she could have had until the complications which (imo) resulted in cancer, Hospice dx, and in the end it took her life.

So now, I am looking at myself with most recent dx of Diabetes 2, and even with this the last week of research that I have been doing, the research has been most revealing about how I can proceed, and the journey my mother has already gone through.

I have what is called mixed hyperlipidemia, is a genetic disorder passed down through family members. 50% chance of inheriting the risk of the disease. Since her brothers had Diabetes 2, one with Parkinsons/Diabetes 2, one brother with amputated leg as result of Diabetes 2, and her father also had Diabetes 2 my risk factors are high. I am having grave concerns now though for my children, with both parents having diabetes in their heritage. including Diabetes 1 (their grandfather) and Diabetes 2 plus two leg amputation (their grandmother) their risk is even higher than mine!

My numbers mean my body is creating high amounts of insulin, and creating insulin resistance in my organs. Sounds like I can still attempt to made lifestyle modifications to bring it under control. However, the measurement of approximate time my mother had the painful foot neuropathy, adding the years since her husband’s death in 2006, I’d say she lived with Diabetes 2 for about 15 years, and maybe she knew, maybe she didn’t, maybe she sort of knew, maybe she didn’t, maybe, maybe, maybe. I think she had to have known somehow, somewhere as her own body was deteriorating.

That is it for now.

FB_IMG_1505672110108Yes, she was and not for the usual Diabetic reasons.  One morning she woke up and couldn’t see.  Of course, she saw Dr’s and they worked hard on getting her a dx.  She told us she had had a ‘stroke of the eye’ .  That is what drs had told her.  She did not mention to us that it had to do with being in Diabetic state that I remember.  This week I read an article that absolutely fits my mother’s experience to a T.

Link to ‘Am I Going Blind? at the New York Times.

My mother already had limited vision in one eye, and to lose vision in what she called her ‘good eye’ was a difficult journey for her.  She never did give up hope that somehow the sight would be restored.  She would not use a walker, she would go nowhere near a wheelchair.  She grudgingly accepted cane as an aide.  We moved her to our region of the state three years ago, with hope we could give her more opportunities at quality of life.  In our region was a Foundation for the Blind with aides, tools, case manager to assist her in learning to cope with life in her blind state.  She did not like to be seen in the light of disabled, and was reluctant to adapt to life of the sight limited.  She was terrified to cross the street, using her cane, as I suggested I would walk with her.  I think I was more animated than she about potential she could have living her life as sight-limited.

Her case manager came to her home to show and teach her how to use furnishings, stove, refrigerator in her home as a blind person might do.  Her friend and case manager was herself blind, young, and coping with life being blind.  My mother did have a few upbeat moments of her life in her sight limited state, however, she had great fear that most often got in her way.  To her credit though, she did try, she tried taking her dog for walk using blind cane.  She did not like the uneven ground and walked the driveway of our condo arena.  We had moved her to condo in our region of state, as these are ADA condos, with wider doors, meant to accomodate the aging and disabled population.  Everything in the neighborhood was easily within walking distance, shopping, banks, grocery stores, restaurants, and at the time it seemed ideal arrangement for her.

She did not adapt easily or well, and by her end of life time, she was doing very little at all in her home.  Fond memories of her excitement when she realized she could use the stove and cook meals.  She had us over a few times and cooked us a meal.  Fond memories of her efforts to adapt, her fears outweighed what she perceived as beneficial.  We took her to as many places as we ourselves went, and I was excited to show her the region, take her to see new sights.  Things happened though, and that is another kind of story.  Best not told here.

She did well enough, and the goal to quality of life was improved, as we took her to Senior Centers, Red Hats, Restaurants, Movies, entertainment, she even had an elderly male friend.  She only lived in our region of the state, which happens to be where she grew up spending her childhood years here, for two plus years.  The complications from her diabetes were ravaging her internal system, which led to cancer, which led to Hospice, which led to her death last summer (August 2017) a month before her 82nd birthday.  The retrospect of her experience teaches me so much as I grieve the loss of her.   I will remember her in tenderness at the efforts she tried in coping with loss of her eyesight – the eye stroke.     It was complications from Diabetes, yes, it was an unusual condition for her yes, per the article, and I feel great regret that had I put 2 and 2 together eleven years ago when she had the first eye stroke, that it was in fact complications from the Diabetes she either did not know she had or preferred not to tell me that is what she had.

type 2 diabetes spoon theory infographic: New Life Outlook Type 2 Diabetes Infographic
type 2 diabetes spoon theory infographic Infographic: If you live with chronic illness, explaining your condition can be tough. The spoon theory was created to do just that, and has since become so much more. – Source: New Life Outlook | Type 2 Diabetes

 

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