Physical ills are the taxes laid upon this wretched life; some are taxed higher, and some lower, but all pay something. ~Lord Chesterfield
I’m not a diabetes cop. I’m not! I’m a recovering diabetes cop. Watching my father eat tamales makes me twitch. I can’t look. I have to focus on my own food, something else. Anything else. Anything to bite my tongue.
My dad appears in my posts quite often. Poor Dad, I’m always talking about his diabetes. I don’t remember his diagnosis, but I don’t remember him not having diabetes. As a child, I didn’t understand his type 2 diabetes. I knew there were types, I had heard doctors talk about it. He went into a study when I was a kid to try to better control his blood glucose levels. He was tired. Tired from trying, and he wanted to be healthy. I thought as a kid, whatever type he had, Daddy has to have the worst type ever. It made him sad, it made him angry, it made him sick, it made his laugh go away. It made him stomp out of the room in frustration.
My Dad still jokes that all his family left him was diabetes. He could have prevented his type 2 diagnosis, yes, and if time machines were available, I would go talk to my Dad in his twenties and say, “Listen, I’m from the future. Creepy how much I look like you, but forget that for now and focus! Diabetes is awful, and you’re gonna get it! Do everything you can now! Find a doctor! Eat less tortillas and exercise! Cut out the drinking now, not later! Go back to the doctor!” Now having had it for decades, we as a family know that we have to do the best we can. Dad doesn’t lack for exercise. He is way more physically active than I am. He landscapes constantly to this day, spending hours outside doing manual labor. I remember as a kid, when Dad would have a high blood glucose reading, he would march outside to bring it down. I’m maniacal with my diet now (another post, possibly), analyzing everything I eat, but Mom didn’t cook like Paula Deen. We could have been healthier, sure, but everyone is allowed missteps in the form of an unhealthy treat now and then. My Dad learned over time, what foods were going to spike his blood sugars, and he worked to avoid them. Never more so than after his heart attack. Before his heart attack, he had an A+ physical. Cholesterol – GREAT, lower than mine. Blood pressure – wonderful! Boom, heart attack. Then, he became as crazy as me, afraid to eat anything at first, without reading and re-reading and calling me.
“So, type 1…that is the worse one, right? Or, er, is it the other way around?”
“Well, actually, they are two different illnesses, that share the same complications *enter elevator speech on autoimmunity*.”
With JDRF, my world became type 1. I know more people with type 1 (include the care takers, the type 3s in there) than without it. It boils my blood when people say you can prevent type 1. It angers me just as much when people say that if only those with type 2 weren’t so lazy…
Dad has a healthy diet, Dad has oral medication, Dad has two blood glucose meters, Dad has insulin, Dad has a team of doctors. We’ve been working at this together for a long time. It hasn’t gone away. Type 2 has a tendency to progress, and when it continued to do so despite our best efforts, Dad went back on insulin, and he’s been crashing in the middle of the night. Sometimes during the day. He shares short-term complications with type 1 now, too. Dad’s insulin producing beta cells are tuckered out, but he still produces insulin. Not enough, and his body is resistant to it. It’s erratic, and we weren’t given a schedule to follow for that, so sometimes he’s high and sometimes he’s low. One thing for certain, I’m consistently worried about him. Just like anyone with diabetes, anyone who loves someone with diabetes.
I know people with type 1 who are complication-free, active, healthy and I love hearing about it! I know people with type 2 – same thing. Some of these people work hard at managing their diabetes. Some don’t at all. So even though, a healthy person with diabetes makes me happy for them, I am still angered by the disease. Not fair. Diabetes doesn’t play fair. Any type. Everyone has their own, not just their own type, their own diabetes in general.
I’m a cure crusader, I want type 1 off the planet, goodbye and good riddance! I also get chills about the research in treatment and complications. It means a great deal to me as the kid. I want these things for my Dad, and pray that he will be able to benefit from them. So he can dance with me at my wedding, and do it pain-free.
Dad eats about one tamale a year. The last time I witnessed Dad eating a tamale I also witnessed his blood sugars going through the roof and him feeling truly ill. Then it’s the inquisition for him. Did he take his pills? When? What else did you eat? This quiz then moves forward into the second stage of what to do to correct the high. A sacred culinary tradition, the tamale should be loved for its heritage, its incredible tastiness and its mystical ability to bring people together. Instead, to me, the tamale = evil starch and fat vessel determined to KILL DADDY. But Dad still thinks of the tamale in the old way. So Dad ate his annual tamale at Christmas Eve dinner with the family. He didn’t spike, not at all. Why? Have absolutely no idea. That’s the world diabetes creates for us. There is no worse case of diabetes. Every case is the worse case. Just because it’s ours.