Living with diabetes – the background

Christmas cake - packed full of off-limit goodies!

I’ve been asked when I would start writing about diabetes – it’s a topic I’ve been avoiding because for me, it’s no big deal.

But now it’s time …

Maybe, in sharing my experiences I can help someone.

I grew up watching my father’s daily efforts to control his blood sugars. He was incredibly disciplined most of the time, being very careful with his diet and exercise. Every day, rain or shine, he would set off from home and arrive at his office in town 45 minutes later. A radio announcer once referred to the dapper gent on Birdwood Street who walked the exact same route every morning, saying that you could set your watch by him.

For most of those years he was accompanied by our family dogs. First there was the naughty boxer Reno, and then he had our beautiful german shepherd Caesar.

Every morning he began his day with three ryvita crispbreads spread with cottage cheese and diabetic jam. On the weekends he would allow himself, on either Saturday or Sunday – not both – two scrambled eggs. He didn’t eat cakes, he only drank on special occasions – neat scotch, he did nothing to excess. He had an enormous appetite but he kept it in check by eating only small portions. I can only surmise that he spent most of the hours in the day feeling incredibly hungry.

During World War II he had spent six years as a prisoner of war so I guess the discipline wasn’t hard, but it did seem very unfair.

I only once saw him in a diabetic coma; that’s not to say he didn’t experience more. For me, as a child, it was frightening and I didn’t understand. I remember him being unconscious and his skin being grey. But these things weren’t talked about much – he recovered relatively quickly and we just got on with it.

It was only in his later years that his medication had to be stepped up. The pills were no longer doing their job and he needed insulin. Again, I remember seeing him doing his daily blood tests but that was it.

Fast track to the second trimester of my third pregnancy –  late 1986-87 when I was diagnosed with gestational diabetes. It was very inconvenient! I had to visit the diabetic clinic every week and spend the whole afternoon waiting to see a variety of specialists, none of whom were particularly friendly. With two other small children in tow it was a real bind. Thankfully I had very dear friends willing to help out with childcare otherwise I may well have spat the dummy and not showed up at all…that’s how bad it was.

After Adam was born, as predicted by my doctor of 47 years, the diabetes went away.

He informed me then, that I’d had my warning. I was advised to be prudent with my diet and above all, exercise daily. Diabetes was going to be in my future, and I would likely have 10 years before it’s revisit.

He was right.

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