Breaking the pattern of diabetes in families

Illustration by Darian Maroney

Diabetes has affected my family for years.

My grandmother and great-grandmother both had it. And just two years ago, we found out my mother did as well.

When my mom was first diagnosed, I didn’t think it was that big of a deal. I thought it was something that could be easily handled.

But I remember the look on her face. It was one of shock and confusion.

I’ve never seen her so scared.

Apparently my great-grandmother and grandmother both died at an early age because of diabetes — both in their early 50s.

I didn’t know how serious the situation was until I did my own research.

It’s terrifying.

The thought that I could lose my mother to this disease is unfathomable.

We had a family talk, and it was established that from now on we would be eating differently in order to help my mom.

Some changes had to be made in order to lessen the possibility of her diabetes leading to cardiovascular disease.

She was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, which means that her body no longer makes enough insulin to keep her blood glucose at normal levels. It’s a disease that can’t be cured and can get worse as time goes by.

Diabetics need to eat healthier and exercise in order to control blood sugar levels.

She has to take medication daily and constantly check her glucose levels by pricking her finger to draw blood to test on a glucometer.

If she doesn’t, she gets light-headed and tired.

It’s been a struggle for her and for all of us.

Type 2 diabetes tends to run in families. The chances of having the disease if one’s parent has it is 1 in 7.

The risk of getting diabetes is something that is on my mind a lot.

To minimize my chances, I have quit drinking soda. It’s been a year and five months since I last had any.

Recently, I’ve been trying to eat less fats and more salads.

I’ve been exercising more and trying to quit hot Cheetos — but I’m still working on that.

I constantly have my mother telling me to take my vitamins, but being the forgetful person that I am, I don’t.

Being a college student hasn’t made it any easier, but I’m trying and that’s what counts.

I want to break this pattern and keep it from affecting my family.

Diabetes has only made my mom stronger, and I admire her for all the obstacles that she overcomes.

It can be hard, but diabetes has made me appreciate my mom and my health. It has brought our family closer together than ever.

Daisy Dardon can be reached at [email protected] or @daisydardon on Twitter.