Repeating History?

After reading a comment from someone here on Tu-Diabetes it reminded me of my experiences of watching my dad go through the struggles of diabetes and now having it myself and watching my own kids deal with it as I did.

My dad has been a T1D for about 40 years now. He was diagnosed as a teen trying to join the army. Imagine…your father and all your brothers, strong military men…you follow in their footsteps as your 18th birthday approaches, despite the fact you are slim and sickly most of the time. The physical comes up and the results come back…" Sorry, son but you have diabetes.". “No I don’t!” " Yes, you do. Which means you cannot join the army. You should probably go to the hospital too.". A slap in the face! He was in denial for a while. Never told anyone and never went to the doc. Until he was so sick that he couldn’t decide for himself and his parents took him in.

He is so much more than a diabetic, of course. So many accomplishments in his life…career (he decided to make planes for the military instead of fly them!), a family (married for 35 years, three kids and three grandchildren now) and so many wonderful memories.

But the sad part of that is that I grew up watching him go from a strong, capable man to a blind, cripple, dependent old man. He has lost his eyesight, has neuropathy in his hands and legs, he’s been through heart attacks, strokes, by-pass surgery, put in a coma due to a common flu and so much more. We kiddingly refer to him as Frankenstein because he’s been stitched up and put back together so many times and he’s STILL ALIVE! It sounds funnier when your not telling this story, I guess. And now that I am a diabetic he is a huge inspiration to me! But at the same time I can see my own future through his experiences. Am I doomed to repeat the same history? I can remember having to wrestle him to the ground and force him orange juice when I was only a child (and he’s a big guy!). Now my own children do this for me…

In fact, my oldest boy (who is almost 10) has saved my life on many occasion. We actually saved a answering machine message of him when he was probably only 3 years old. I had just had my second baby and adjusting to the difference in insulin intake sent me into a stooper many times. One in particular after I had taken the kids to the pool (Thank God we had come inside before something worse had happened!). I felt the need to make lunch-I was starving and feeling woosy. I put the baby in the carrier and without warning, I blacked out. I woke up to my mother by my side and Jacob, my oldest son, hovering over me, a PB&J stuffed in my mouth, OJ spilled on the floor next to me. What happened? My mother explained that she had come home from the store and saw her message machine blinking. It was Jacob…" Grammy! Mommy just passed out" (his voice quivering) “I think she needs her medicine. Will you go to the pharmacy?”(although it wasn’t pronounced this way-it was more like “farmamy”). When she rushed over to rescue me, he had already made me a sandwich and was force feeding it to me. His attempts to give me orange juice had obviously failed. There was nothing more to do. Jacob had already saved my life! Later we marveled in the fact that he figured out the speed dial on the phone, that he had made a sandwich and knew exactly what to do and at 3-years-old-he was just a baby!! I thought back to my own childhood.

Here I am, only 31, and I have brittle, unstable diabetes, gastroparesis, the beginnings of retinopathy and a dependancy upon my family that I never thought I would need. It’s an interesting reality. One I know you can survive because I’ve watched my dad. But one I know is a difficult and scary struggle because I’ve watched my dad. Don’t mean to be a downer. I guess it’s just an interesting contemplation. And my greatest hope is that I can handle what life passes my way with as much grace and dignity as he has.

My dad is retiring this year from his 30-year career in military avionics.

With all the advances in diabetes management that are available to you today (and which did not exist for most of your father’s late-teens/adulthood), you should be able to avoid repeating history. With your pump and a judicious regimen of counting your carbs, your complications can be delayed/reversed and give you a much better quality of life. I wish you the best.

WOW LYDIA thanks so very much for your input, and in terms of grace and dignity you definitely have that covered. There is not a meter in existence that can assess the biggest componenet of ALL of our lives, which is of course our emotions. Managing them appropriately is a key componenet to whatever degree of success we have with anything we do, and diabetes is no exception.

Arguably the best line in your story is “He is so much more than a diabetic” and without question you are as well. KEEP WRITING, KEEP FIGHTING!!!

Love Always
The Anonymous Diabetic.

What a story. I just found out less than 6 weeks ago that I have type 1. It’s scary and has dragged me into depression which I am now fighting with the help of meds. Still reading your story makes me sad. I wish you the best. God Bless you and your family.


I am guessing your dad and I are about the same age. I am 52, he may be a little older, but I have a 30 year old son. I was diagnosed at age 17 and was at Disney World when I got the news. Proving of course Disney World is not always the happiest place on earth.

My mom was a diabetic, she died when she was 46. She was blind, had gasteoparisis, neuropathy, on and on. Oh no heart disease, but loss of kidney function. Like you I have seen it all. I suspect we have seen the best and the worst of the disease. I have been married 32 years but only one grandbaby, so far. Lets hope we can get some more sooner than later.

I wish you the very best, thansk for your reflections.

rick phillips

Hello Lydia: :slight_smile:

I do wish that you would let that “doomed” feeling out of your body and mind. If you leave it there, then you will be doomed, guaranteed.

Your Father has been through a lot in his Life. Amazingly, he changed the negative aspect of a wanted career around to make himself into a much needed workforce. That’s Fabulous for him and his Family. Do you think that he put the same effort into his health? You probably don’t know and neither do I. I hope that I didn’t hurt your feelings by asking that. It is an important question for your future.

Like many, I was also told that I was a Brittle Diabetic in my early 20’s. “So that’s why my sugars are crazy”. Wrong!! My sugars were crazy because I didn’t know a lot about the disease I had nor did I understood all the intricate details that I needed to know to get it under control.

If I had listened to that particular Endo, I’d definitely be blind by now(since I did have laser for PR in my 20’s), probably have kidney problems or maybe even a heart attack…or be dead. Through my Life, I’ve watched Loved Ones around me, die of Diabetes, left, right and centre. Because they were in denial, didn’t care or didn’t understand. The Medical Professionals are doing much Better today than they did back then but even today, they are not doing enough to educate Diabetics. I Really don’t get," Why not"???

So, you are here my Dear. Read all you can, ask questions, discuss, listen, rant. It will probably save your Life. Please do not give in to this (controversial) notion of Brittle Diabetes and being doomed, until you’ve given it your Best Shot. Your Sweet Son and Hubby would Really appreciate you sticking around to share the Love and Fun and to Celebrate yours/their many Successes. Smart Son that yu have there. :wink:

I think that your paintings are totally Awesome. You are Very talented, as your Dad is.

Thanks for your thoughts. But I disagree with you in the fact that you can perfectly control your sugars and avoid any other diabetic related health issues. My father was in denial for a short time but for the most part has stayed on a healthy regime, especially after he met my mother, and he still had issues later on in life. I have an ever harder time of controlling my BG levels due to the fact that I am a woman…and with many “female” related problems. These factors throw me waaaay off the charts for no given reason or warning. To assume that someone with brittle diabetes is just poorly managed is (pardon me) ignorant. I hope my opinion hasn’t offended you either.

I also should let you know that I write these blogs to get out thoughts. I am not all gloom and doom. It’s just a fascinating and sometimes fearful perspective to be a healthy child with a diabetic parent to a diabetic parent with healthy children.

And a diagnoses is not what scares me. It’s everyday, watching my health get worse and growing tired for all the hurdles. I DO give it my best shot everyday and have for the last 10 years. I’m glad it is much easier for some diabetics, as yourself. I will not apologize for having fear or getting tired. We are only human…well, I am.This writing was also supposed to express how inspiring my dad has been to me. I’ve already been through a lot for my age. Shoot! I even survived a cancer diagnoses last year. And I know I will go through many of the same trials that he did and I would like to be strong about it like he has been. But as I recall , he also cried saying goodbye to us before going in for 5-bypass heart surgery. We all get scared.

On another note, I’m glad you like you like my art. I put my heart and soul into it.

Hi Lydia:

No, I’m not offended at all. It’s Good that everyone can put out their thoughts and feelings here in blogs and discussions. Diabetes is a hard and unfair disease for everyone. I know it was for me for the first 30 years between seizures and extreme highs. Then having lived with severe RA for some years, I finally went into a deep depression and set up my own suicide. You’re right. Diabetes is a tiring disease.

“But I disagree with you in the fact that you can perfectly control your sugars and avoid any other diabetic related health issues.”

I do not recall saying that a Diabetic could have perfect control of their numbers, all the time. I believe that is next to impossible even with a pump. I’ve said it many times in many Communities, that as long as a Diabetic is in the Good range, most of the time, it will help stave off complications from Diabetes for a long time.

Even as most non-Diabetics age, they will get complications in their health which are the same/similar as the complications that Diabetics get. Like heart attack, stroke, high blood pressure, lung infections, hearing and sight problems, etc. Even Retinopathy. So obviously, we have a more and sooner chance of some complications.

As I understand it(I could be wrong), “Brittle Diabetes” has the element of out of control blood sugars for unknown reasons. Children have a harder time with their sugars mainly because their systems are continually changing. Being over-weight makes decent control more difficult. Also some normal weight Diabetics who are on glucose raising drugs or have other conditions that affect their bloodsugars. I can’t call these People Brittle Diabetics because there are reasons for their hard to control sugars

It just upsets me to hear that some Diabetics give up because their Endo or other Medical Dr., didn’t want to put the time and effort into their Patients care(I’m not saying you). Just brand them with Brittle Diabetes even though many are not. I just hear this a lot. This will only continue since the Diabetes numbers are continually rising and the lack of Drs. in all countries. Thank God for online Diabetes Communities like Tud. At least it helps some Diabetics understand their disease(s)/some conditions, shows them what to look for, answers questions that Drs. don’t know the answers to or don’t have the time to answer them, different ways of treatment, shared experiences, many tips, offers many resources and Friendships, etc.

I apologize for talking so much on your blog and for my error. I just got the impression that you felt that your Life is doomed, from reading your blog.

Anyways Lydia, I do agree that your Father is a Great Man for all he has been through and his many Accomplishments. I just want to wish you the Best for your Life and Health.

We are basically saying the same thing then. Thanks for sharing.

About 80%. But don’t give up…amazing things are possible.