Gertrude ‘Blondie’ Fram, Age 93: Living With Type 2 Diabetes For More Than Forty Years

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Blondie Fram has been living well with type 2 diabetes for at least fourdecades, and probably many more before she was diagnosed. She attributes herlong life with diabetes first and foremost to solid family ties. "I have hadwonderful support from my children and their spouses," she says.

Her successalso comes in large part from the great medical support that she has receivedfrom her son-in-law, Dr. Aaron I. Vinik. Dr. Vinik is a world-renowneddiabetologist and neuropathy specialist at the Strelitz Diabetes Institutes inNorfolk, Virginia. "My son-in-law has looked after me carefully," she says. "Iknow I could phone him in the middle of the night with any problem, but I trynot to take advantage." After she had controlled her diabetes for many yearswith diet and exercise alone, Dr. Vinik was instrumental in getting her oninsulin, which she now takes four times a day.

Ever since she was widowed in her late fifties, Blondie has lived with one ofher children and his or her family. When the entire clan emigrated from SouthAfrica to the United States, they brought her along with them. She currentlyspends six months of every year with one daughter's family in Nashville,Tennessee, and the remainder of the year with her other daughter in Norfolk. Shehas enjoyed being in the heart of her family all that time, especially becauseshe has been able to help raise her grandchildren. "I think I've been reallylucky to be surrounded by younger people all these years," she says.

Blondie has always been a very active person, and even now she refuses to letlife slow her down too much. She was a musician in her younger years, and shestill tries to get out to concerts. In South Africa, she played golf and tennisfor years (even though ignorant practitioners there told her that that exerciseisn't good for people with diabetes). Until a fall that resulted in a badfracture, she walked in a local mall two to three miles a day. She still triesto walk as much as possible because she knows how important being active is toliving well – with or without diabetes.

Blondie's active lifestyle extends to mental exercise as well. Always a reader,she belongs to a book club to this day. She never goes to bed without doing acrossword puzzle, and she also enjoys the Sudoku number puzzles. "You have totry to keep your mind going," she says. It's apparent that this strategy hasworked remarkably well for her.

Finally, Blondie attributes her success in living well with diabetes to herpositive outlook. "I always have something to look forward to. Right now I'mlooking forward to seeing what colleges my great-grandkids get into!" Shedoesn't let her health problems bother her (she has been treated twice forbreast cancer), and she is extremely careful about what she eats (a balanceddiet with no added sugar and small quantities of food). "I have just learned tolive with what I have to live with," she remarks. The fact that she can't movearound as fast anymore bothers her, but at 93 years old, she is still movingpretty fast.

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