Generations of Diabetes

The posts and comments that I’ve seen a lot of during this National Diabetes Month have to do with passing judgement on other people, which we all know is something people take the liberty of doing behind the anonymity of their keyboards and computer screens.

I’ve seen people talk about online bullying and how it ends up impacting their mental health. I’ve seen the judgement of people with Type 1 for being mistaken as type 2, which shouldn’t happen at all. And I’ve seen people judged for being type 2 as if it was their fault. Can we just clear something up here?

Being type 2 is genetic. You have to be genetically predisposed to type 2 diabetes in order to develop it. Type 1 is a beast in and of itself. Both are brought on by triggers and cause the same symptoms however, those triggers are different.

My family members have developed type 2 diabetes. The fascinating thing is that my grandmother developed type 2 after worrying about a financial situation at home. Now, there’s no scientific tie, however stress is the worst for chronic conditions. Stress can eat at you and release hormones in your body that your body isn’t used to having. There can be triggers or other health factors that cause the development of diabetes.

After my grandmother’s heart stopped at her birthday party one year, they put her on a pacemaker. They also found that one of her arteries was severely clogged and thus causing issues. They cleared it up for her and within a few months, she had lost a lot of weight and found her sugar to be dropping because of it. Once I was at my mom’s house when my aunt helped her get up. She felt lightheaded and weak. I had my aunt check her blood sugar and sure enough it was in the 60s. I gave her juice and told her she’d feel better in a few minutes. After that, I called my mom and told her to speak to my grandmother’s doctor — I didn’t think that she had to be on her metformin anymore. At that rate, she was taking a half of a pill.

My grandma wondered why it happened. I told her that because they fixed her heart, her body was working normally now. She had put her diabetes into remission for the rest of her life.

A few years ago, my mother was put on metformin — which I found extremely ironic. She had been told that she had had pre-diabetes, but had never crossed that bridge fully. When she told me she was prescribed metformin, she still didn’t want to fully admit that she had type 2 diabetes. The irony though, was that she had taken care of me as a child and my grandmother with type 2. It’s not that she wasn’t doing anything purposefully to develop it, she was genetically predisposed.

She hated the idea of having to take pills. She didn’t have any other condition that made her take any, so it was an inconvenience. She knew what she had to do. She also needed the encouragement.

Knowing that I try and eat healthily and my sister likes to eat healthily all the time, she asked for recommendations from us on healthy meals and snacks. She joined a local Tops chapter and got to work. Along her journey, she asked a lot of questions — of which I tried to answer to the best of my ability — and got the results she was looking for. Her metformin dosage wasn’t very high to begin with and soon it started to dwindle.

After so much hard work and dedication to her health, my mom was able to stop taking her metformin pills.  Her doctors still check her a1C to make sure it’s where it’s supposed to be and if there is any increase, she’d have to start taking metformin again.

I was extremely proud of my mother and how she took her health seriously. She changed her diet and became mindful of how she ate, which resulted in weight loss and eventually a change for the better.

Although I take insulin which is far different than taking metformin only, I learned what dedication looked like from someone who had a different disorder than me. My mom showed me that I was also capable of keeping myself in check and do what I needed to do for myself and my health.

I know I’m late on posting for National Diabetes Month, but I’m glad I wrote about my mom and my grandmother. They’ve inspired me in so many ways, and knowing that we all learned and helped each other in different ways throughout our diabetes journeys, makes me proud.

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