Tuesday, January 11, 2011

RIP Aunt Vickie

I received a call yesterday from my mom informing me that my aunt Vickie had died.  It happened a little after 10am Monday morning.  She was at home and I know that at least two of her kids were with her.  She gasped for air a few times and was gone.  Her kids tried to help but nothing could be done.

I was expecting this call but it's still a bit of a shock when it comes.  My aunt has committed suicide. Sort of.  Let me explain.

Diabetes is a killer that runs in my family. Waaaaay back.  It's rare that a woman on my mother's side doesn't have a brush with this disease.  I think my half sister has it as well but I haven't talked to her in a while. 

My grandmother had diabetes and chose to do nothing about it.  Her thinking was that the insulin would take care of her problems and she could eat whatever she wanted. (Really?  You didn't believe the doctors, grandma?  I know you were stubborn but this flirts with stupidity.)  She developed several problems and eventually died from a stroke.  This was several years ago and my poor mother still cries any time she talks about her mom.  She misses her so much.  And no warning would stop my grandmother from eating whatever the hell she wanted.  I don't get it.

My aunt was diagnosed with diabetes.  She had the same attitude as my grandmother.  She had a few visits to the hospital where they weren't sure if she was going to get to leave.  She just wanted to get home so she could have a cigarette and her favorite foods.  She wasn't about to give up anything or even modify her life.  Nope.  The insulin would take care of everything.  No exercise.  No trying.  Diabetes wasn't going to bother her. She may as well have jumped off a cliff.  Either way she was killing herself.

Two weeks ago that same aunt had her leg amputated because it had turned black.  The other leg was amputated last week.  It was black.  When the amputations were scheduled, the family set up a sort of party for her just in case things didn't work out.  Everyone brought her favorite foods so she could have anything she wanted.  And from what I understand, she indulged. 

After her second amputation, aunt Vickie had a stroke.  The doctors didn't have much hope.  Some organs were failing.  She wanted to go home.  And that's where she died. Home.  Without a fight.  Never once trying to fight diabetes.

My own mother was told by our doctor that she is borderline diabetic.  Not sure what that means exactly but he pretty much told her that this is her last warning.  She has to do something now.  And she has!  She's taking Glucophage, thyroid meds, eating better, walking a mile each day.  She has lost 30 pounds and is finally in Onederland.  I'm very proud of her. She's fighting this.

My doctor threatened me with the "D" word.  My only experience with diabetics has been with the ones in my own family.  And it scares me.  I've seen what they've gone through.  No, it doesn't scare me. It terrifies me.  I.can.not.get.this.

The fear drives me to work my butt off.  Fear may not be a healthy motivator but apathy is a killer. I've seen it and it's not pretty.  It not only causes the person pain but all of those around that person.  Do they not think of the people who love them?  Is it selfishness or a case of invincibility complex?  You know, nothing can hurt me because I'm invincible!

It makes me sad that aunt Vickie did absolutely nothing to prevent this but it also makes me angry.  She knew! Why do some people not care?  Are they expecting such a great afterlife that this life must suck in comparison so better to leave early and get on with the good stuff?  Do they think nothing will happen to them?  I don't get it.

Fat kills.  Diabetes. Stroke. Heart disease. High blood pressure. Chronic pain.  Is it really worth it?  Is unhealthy food worth death?  Would you die for that brownie?  Is it better to sit on the couch and die slowly or work hard for a good life?

Yes, there is some anger in this post.  It hurts to see someone die and leave those behind to suffer the loss.  This was avoidable.  Death is not avoidable but an early death can be.  It pisses me off so much! Why don't people listen to the warnings?

My aunt is being prepared for burial right now.  Time has stopped for her but time still ticks for me and I am going to fight this disease called obesity.  That's what I'm going to do with my time today.  Fight.  And win.

PS: Not trying to say that all diabetics are going to suffer the same fate or are not trying or are not living a full life.  My own family's experience has not been that great.  But they haven't tried either.


  1. And win you shall.
    I LOVE your attitude.

  2. My dad was diabetic, and treated his disease the same way - have an apple fritter? Just give yourself more insulin! He eventually died from cancer from smoking, but I don't think he could have continued much longer the way he treated his diabetes.

    It IS a manageable disease. Is it a pain in the ass I have to check my blood sugar up to 8 times a day? Yep. Is it a pain in the ass to weigh all my food? Yep. Is it a pain in the ass to get out of bed in the morning to work out when I am comfy in my bed? Yep.

    But I am healthy. My A1C is 6.1 (anything under 7 is considered a controlled diabetic). My cholesterol is normal, my blood pressure normal.

    I am so sorry for your loss, but through your Grandma and Aunt's unfortunately example, you and your Mom don't have to have the same conclusion.


  3. Sorry for your loss! You are so determined, it is apparent that you will not suffer the same fate. I'm proud of you for choosing a different road, and proud of your mom as well!

  4. Hugs and prayers to you and your family Kelly. In my family it's heart disease so I completely understand about being motivated to not let it take you down. You will win!

  5. That is just sad - food and lifestyle meant more to your aunt than living. I'm sorry for your loss - I hear a lot of fear and anger in your post. You are living proof that this disease can be denied, and your mom is living proof that things CAN be turned around. It takes work, but look at the rewards!

  6. I can't imagine the frustration, anger and sadness.

    You and your mom should be applauded for your fight back against the diesease. Way to go!!

    You never know who is watching, perhaps one of the younger is in your family is learning something new and good that will save thier life.


  7. How sad that they choose to do nothing!
    In my family it's heart disease in fact they told me last year that i'm very young to have it already.
    Last year i had two stents put into a main artery because it was pretty much closed. That is why i do what i do.
    Last month my mother had a heart attack but is o.k for now.
    However she smokes like a chimney and exercise why that would be walking to make a cup of tea :( So sad.

  8. That's so awful! I completely understand where you are coming from. I would have the same thoughts about similar things.

    Great job on trying to win the fight Kelly! So sorry for your loss!

  9. I am sorry for your loss. Many people know in their hearts that they are not doing the best things for themselves, ie ignorning diabetes, continuing to smoke,doing drugs.

    You will win the battle, I know it.

  10. Your epiphany and actions mean you will evade it. Stay a healthy weight, keep active, eat well, and diabetes can go sulk off into the sunset.

    The D word from my doc is what scared me. No one in my immediate family has it--not mom or dad had it, who both got to old, age--no siblings. BUT...I'm the only one who got to 300 lbs...the fat and sedentary ways will do it.

    So, I'm fighting Metabolic Syndrome...cause I don't want the Big D.

  11. Well, Dang. I meant to add my condolences, got sidetracked by the D topic. I'm sorry your Aunt didn't want to spend MORE time on earth with y'all lovely people. If you were my niece, I'd consider myself blessed and would want to have more time with your and your kids....for real.

    In Heaven, no more big D. She can keep watch and cheer your efforts on...with da angels.

  12. My condolences on your families loss.

    I am with Biz. It is a pain in the ass to track and poke but we are worth the effort.

    I do understand your Aunt's way of thinking though having been there at one time

  13. Sorry for your loss. My hubby's mother was the same way: she felt that since she took insulin, it meant she could eat whatever she wanted. She had also had a quadruple bypass and then went right back to eating fatty foods because she felt she "had been fixed". Some people just don't get it.

    Borderline diabetes simply means being pre-diabetic: "do nothing to improve your eating and you will get diabetes". (It has to do with how the pancreas regulates natural insulin levels in our bodies.) The fact that your mom has changed her diet is a big step in preventing diabetes altogether. I only wish I had done that a year ago and I could have avoided the daily finger pricks (3 times a day) to measure my blood sugar levels.

    Keep following your new eating ways and losing the weight. You can avoid getting diabetes!

  14. Sorry for your loss... Diabetes is a dreadfull disease ....

  15. I am sorry for your loss.

    This post really hits home for me and I only wish you and your mom the best of health.

  16. I am so sorry about your loss.
    Your story about diabetes in your family touched me and it is very similar to my family.
    My aunt has been back and forth from nursing home to hospital for about a year now. She is diabetic and does nothing about it. When I visited her on Christmas her sugar was 204 yet she was stuffing her face with cookies.
    My mother is also a diabetic among other health issues. I am so scared for her. She will not do anything to lose weight or make better choices. It is painful because I feel like I am watching her kill herself knowing that she can easily change things around. I keep hoping that my weight loss and healthy lifestyle will motivate her but nothing yet.
    I REFUSE to let diabetes get me which is why I am glad I found Weight Watchers and am living a better life.
    Thank you for sharing your story.

  17. "Yes, there is some anger in this post. It hurts to see someone die and leave those behind to suffer the loss. This was avoidable. Death is not avoidable but an early death can be. It pisses me off so much! Why don't people listen to the warnings?"

    Kelly - I am so very sorry for your loss. Your writing above hits me hard. Up until a few months ago I smoked 1/2 pack of cigarettes a day since I was 13 years old. It took my oldest daughter saying something very similar to the above, to me, to finally quit.

    I think the greatest gift we can give to our family and friends is to be healthy - whatever that means to whomever.

    I wish you peace during your mournful time.



  18. I am so sorry for your loss. However, this is one of the best posts that I've seen in a long while on the weightloss blogs. Hang in there. {{HUGS}}

  19. Kelly, I'm so sorry for your loss. I feel your pain deeply. I lost my dad at age 58 to complications from diabetes. The hell of it is, he did everything right. That is what is scary about diabetes. People can suffer from complications even when they take all precautions. WHY MESS WITH SOMETHING THAT DANGEROUS when the only hope you have is to fight it. When I was diagnosed I was terrified. I had it for 14 years before I realized that my life would end soon if I didn't do something. I had gastric bypass surgery in Feb 2009. There were other ways to lose weight but only surgery offered me am 80% chance of a complete diabetes cure. Thankfully, I was in the 80%. My diabetes is gone. Most of the weight is gone. I have a chance now to maybe see my great-grandchildren come into the world. You can do this. You can fight it and get where you want to be. I wish that your aunt had really understood. I'm so sorry that it is too late for her but GOOD for you mom for getting the treatment and exercise. And good for your for getting it. Hugs.

  20. What an eye opener! I am so sorry for your familys loss. People live in complete denial. I know I lived that way for many, many years. So sorry you had to learn from such awful examples. :-( Glad to hear that you are listening though!

    I am going to print this post and give it to my dad, who is diabetic and eating poptarts for breakfast every morning. My diabetes has been in control ever since I lost weight, the numbers have been fine ever since.

  21. Kelly.. I am so sorry for your loss.

    What an amazing post. It really struck a chord with me.. I was diagnosed as a Type II Diabetic a few years ago, and while I have been lucky to have kept my blood sugars under control without much work (I say that because it has taken me a few years to "get" it). That said, I am finally taking charge of my life and plan on lowering those sugars even more. I am worth it.. and so is my family. ((HUGS)) to you.. and thank you for your honesty.

  22. So sorry for your loss, Kelly. You and your mom are going to change this history in your family!!! I believe in you!

  23. I'm so sorry for your loss. I know exactly how you feel. I watched my grandmother overcome years of alcoholism, quit smoking after 40 years of it, and she wouldn't quit eating the crap. She'd still go through a box of Nutter Bars (peanut butter, chocolate, wafer bars) if we didn't watch her. She'd eat fruit but in huge quantities that was almost as bad as the cakes and cookies. The last time I saw her she cried and begged me not to do what she'd done. It's got me crying now... Thanks for the reminder. That's what I'm doing this for. For her and for me.

  24. Kelly, your post struck a chord with me for so many reasons. First, my condolences on your loss. Second, my mother-in-law died of complications from diabetes when she was 44. I never met her, but from what I heard, she'd give herself an extra insulin shot, then take everyone out for ice cream. My husband and his sister both have diabetes. For years, he did the same thing even though we have 2 small kids and he is not much younger than his mom was when she died. His normal blood sugar was between 200 and 300. It's only when I am actively dieting that he works on getting his blood sugar under control. Diabetes does not run in my family, but if my husband does not start caring for his diabetes and cholesterol all the time and not just assume he's doing what he should because he takes his glucophage and Januvia (yes, he's on 2 diabetes medications) then it will greatly affect our 2 small children (a 5yo and 2yo). it makes me sad and mad that he hides his head in the sand as he does.

  25. I am so sorry for your loss.

    I wish that people would take being diabetic as serious as it really is. I am happy to read that your mom did take it serious! That is so awesome! Hope all is well for you!

  26. First I am really sorry about your loss. Despite that she "committed suicide" through apathy it's still a tragedy.

    My wakeup call to lose over 100 pounds was diabetes. The doctor's words "pre-diabetic" scared me so much I made the necessary drastic changes in my life.

    I wish that I could say health scares wake people up but often they just don't. It's sad, but it's their choice.

  27. My adoptive father was a diabetic and he died 5 days after he had his 2nd leg amputated at the knee due to gangrene.

    He refused to change his diet and made my Mom miserable over it and, because of that, I was fatherless at 20.

    Sorry for your loss.

  28. What a powerful post. Thank u for sharing. Its so hard watching people abuse their bodies.
    with what we know today, its hard to even imagine people smoke

  29. I am so sorry for your loss.

    Everyone who is overweight/obese/diabetic or on their way there should read this post.

  30. Bless her dear heart - and yours!

  31. God Kelly, I am so sorry for you and your family.

    The good that can be found in this is that it is going to help save your life and your mom's life and set a great standard for the rest of your family to follow.

  32. I can relate. I really wish I could say I didn't.
    My brother isn't dumb, neither does he lack willpower. I mean, the man put himself through law school while working nights as a cop.
    And still, when he ate himself into diabetes, he didn't bother to listen to the doctors or read the fine print. Now he's gotten himself into a serious situation, and I just want to shake him and say "what were you thinking?"

  33. That's like, "What do you mean, I can't hit my head with a hammer and not suffer brain injuries?" Diabetes is really nasty, because you don't realize what it does to your body until it is too late. My family has been spared of it so far, but I work as a medical translator and read about the consequences on a daily basis. No, thanks, I'd rather loose some weight and avoid the Big D.

  34. So sorry for your loss, Kelly. You are taking action and breaking that chain- way to go to both you and your Mom!

  35. I am very sorry for your loss.


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