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. 


4 thoughts on “The Worse One

  1. Thanks for writing this. My dad, also had type 2, though he’s not with us anymore. Though he did all he could, and fought really hard for his control, there’s a certain anger one feels for a while, holding on to the “you could have prevented this,” for one’s parent, or loved one… I especially felt this for a while, after my father passed on. It’s normal… because organizations and the media really push the prevention theme, and it’s really not entirely a bad thing… But it wasn’t until I got diagnosed with my own Type 2 Diabetes that I learned that thinking “I could have prevented this” was pointless. Sure, maybe healthier living could have helped… but there’s no real way to say exactly what triggered it, and even with persons who are obese, the obesity in itself is it’s own extremely challenging, and complex disease. The reality is that there are many ways to trigger Type 2 Diabetes (from pollution, to illnesses like Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome or Depression, to different commonly prescribed drugs, to just plain family genetics or ethnicity propensity), that diet and exercise are just one risk factor, for those who are already pre-disposed… If you aren’t predisposed, you can eat like Paula Deen all day, and you won’t get it… Not that I recommend eating like her… But we forget that diet and exercise are like a seat belt; they aren’t there to prevent illnesses… but to lessen their impact, or to reduce risk. It is not an absolute risk reducer… Though we must do what we can to reduce it. These days, Type 2 Diabetes has now been found to also have some autoimmune elements, different than Type 1 still, but autoimmune nonetheless… So that also adds to the equation of the hair trigger mechanism of an immune system attacking itself.. Sometimes it happens at a mild overweight, sometimes at more weight. Sometimes it just takes some sudden medication regimen. In any case, we try to live the best we can, with this… To LIVE with this and manage it. Just like someone might struggle having their piece of cake, or pizza, once a year… for a birthday party, though it might be hard to bolus for… they still do it… The answer is because we Diabetes, but Diabetes doesn’t have US. We make our own concessions with ourselves, to preserve our peace of mind, and our quality of life… And that’s something hard to understand for many people without diabetes… because this is, in many ways, more of a psychological disease, than the mere regimens we have to follow. It’s not black and white, in any way.

    Also… everyone deserves empathy, support, and humanity. No one would dream of telling someone with AIDS, or Lung Cancer that they don’t deserve a cure because “they could have prevented this,” yet it’s so easy to rationalize it for a Type 2… Even easier to understand how there are many ways to get AIDS, or Lung Cancer, but not to understand that the same is true for Type 2. And even if we did get it via a “personal faux pas…” who cares? Does it really merit the judgment, and lack of humanity, and lack of looking for a cure? I think not… No one outright asks for disease, and life is simply complicated.

    I see my Type 1 brothers and sisters suffer, and I cry for them… Just like I did for my dad, and I get angry at the disease… Just like I did at my dad’s. At the end of the day, we are the same people… with the same need for awareness that we need better medical services, less bullying and discrimination, better tools, better medical professionals, etc. I dream of a day when we have more power over what’s in the media, how doctors learn and educate themselves, and about the type of care we receive…

    Thank you for your honesty. And sorry about the long, long post.

    1. Thank you for your comment! I agree with everything in your comment and truly appreciate your well-written words.

  2. This entire post is amazing. It’s real and from a perspective we rarely get to see. Thank you for sharing. I’m the daughter of a diabetic, too, but I have type 1 as well. It’s a horrid bond, but one that’s brought me and my father closer. The best sentence in this post is about how everyone has their own — not necessarily their own type — their own diabetes. Thank you for sharing Lawren! I’m so glad you are here and part of this community!

  3. Thank you for a beautifully written post, Lawren. I believe that we all have–even people without diabetes–some type of special need. My daughter is intellectually-disabled and the challenges she faces every day with grace and laughter is very humbling to me. I guess if we could all have compassion for one another, it would make the world a better place.

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