This is a hard column to write this month.
I’ve been thinking all weekend of my wife’s mother, Carol, who is recovering from another diabetes-related complication.
I often see diabetes-related stories in my own life as fodder for my column. But I haven’t written about Carol for a long time. She suffered from neuropathy, blindness and then she had a stroke.
I’ve decided to write about her now, and try to explain how something like this can happen.
Carol is in a hospital bed right now, recovering from major vascular surgery to her leg. Having type 2 diabetes for 14 years, the blood had stopped circulating to her foot properly. Last week, the nurses at the skilled-care facility where Carol lives noticed that she had two black toes on her right foot.
The doctors acted promptly and scheduled her for surgery. She was cut open from her hip down to her ankle. They took arteries from the upper part of her thigh and spliced them into the lower part. The operation went well.
When she came to, she said, “It’s all my fault, I did it to myself.”
She didn’t know that diabetes could cause all this.
Where Did I Go Wrong?
Now I must ask myself, “Could I have done more?” I’m the diabetes guy of the family. How could this have happened under my very nose? I look back over 14 years to try and understand the progression of her diabetes. I also (selfishly) want to find some assurance that this won’t happen to me too.
My wife and I spoke this morning as she got ready to leave for the hospital to visit her mom. “Do you have any regrets?” I asked. She reminded me of several episodes she had with her mom about diabetes.
My wife had encouraged her mother to test. She got her the newest meters and paid to have her attend a diabetes teaching center. She purchased every diabetes convenience, and sent her to the best doctors.
Is Mom Testing?
My wife asked, “Mom, are you testing your blood sugar?” “Yes,” she would reply. Then my wife would downloaded her mother’s blood glucose meter and found that her mom had not tested in weeks. She had also skipped taking her insulin whenever she overindulged in sweets or was “bad,” as she would say.
My wife tried many things to encourage her mom to develop good self-care habits. She tried being extremely loving and caring, she gave her books and education. When that did not work, she pleaded, begged and bargained with her mom. Then she got angry and became so frustrated, she would cry. Then she simply gave up.
Carol told my wife later that she thought her diabetes would not affect her any worse than it did her own mother, who also ignored her diabetes. Her mom lived to be 77 without any disabling complications. Carol passed away at 65 from diabetes complications. She never imagined that diabetes would ever disable her. It stopped her from working, reading, going places, driving and being outside.
Hard To Read
Although I’m sure you don’t enjoy reading this, I had to tell you the truth. Maybe this information will help someone somewhere.