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.