Diabetes Killed My Grandfather


By: , SparkPeople Blogger
  :  93 comments   :  24,593 Views

These days, it's hard to ignore the news of exploding increases in type 2 diabetes. According to a recently published study, nearly 350 million people worldwide now have type 2 diabetes, which is twice the number of adults who had diabetes just 30 years ago. And here in the U.S., the incidence of diabetes is rising twice as fast as in Western Europe, say researchers.

What's really scary is that diabetes doesn't just affect you in the short term. It is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality, which triggers the onset of heart disease, stroke, kidney and nerve problems, and a host of other problems. These aren't just "things that happen to other people" either. These are very real consequences that can happen to anyone who isn't taking steps to keep their diabetes under control.

Despite these very real risks, a study presented last month at the 71st Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association found that nearly 90% people with diabetes know that healthier habits (like weight loss) could help their condition, but very few take any action: Only 70% tried to lose weight within the last year; less than 1/3 of those maintained that loss for more than 6 months. Only 13% had been physically active within the last week, even though 63% said their doctors has told them to start exercising.

My grandpa was one of those people. And his choice not to change his diet or lifestyle killed him.

We've never been sure whether he was in denial about his health problems, or if he just put on a brave face. Or perhaps he really thought that the dozen or so medications he took each day were controlling or curing his medical issues to the point that he didn't have to do anything else. Maybe he was too optimistic—he just figured that all that bad stuff would never happen to him. After all, his father (my great-grandpa) lived to be 103. While he wasn't an educated man, he was smart and didn't lack in resources. He did visit his doctor regularly, and he did know which foods were good for him and which weren't. But no matter what we said to him, what foods we tried to show him, or how many scares he had at the doctor's office or hospital (his final years were marked by multiple visits to the ER, long stays in intensive care, dialysis for kidney failure, and more), he seemed to always bounce back—and he never changed his ways. We all know that it was these unhealthy habits—a lack of physical activity, a diet of fast food, frozen meals and restaurant fare that was high in fat, sodium and calories and low in vital nutrients—that took his life much too early. He died at the age of 72, a mere 8 years after his official diabetes diagnosis.

When I read stats about diabetes increasing, or meet people with diabetes who aren't taking steps to lose weight or get active, I think of him. He was one of the coolest people I ever knew, a person who was fun and hilarious and whose booming voice and laughter would fill our ears and now, our memories. We still miss him every day. Perhaps you know someone like him.

So why is it that people know what they need to do but simply won't do it? Maybe they know general things, but not specifics. Maybe it seems too hard. Maybe they don't realize the real consequences of NOT changing. Perhaps they don't have the motivation or support to keep it going. I do think that in many cases, people just don't know where to begin. Whatever the reason, there are a lot of resources available that can help people with diabetes get started—and stay motivated.
In the last year, I've been working really diligently with the SparkPeople staff and our experts to add more diabetes information and features to the SparkPeople.com. From articles about better food choices to our popular 8-Week Diabetes Weight Loss Challenge, to our brand new Spark*D Diabetes Management Program and weekly diabetes newsletters, we're doing everything we can to provide resources and tools that will help people with diabetes rewrite the future. And all of these tools are 100% free and accessible to anyone with Internet access.
We all know what a huge problem diabetes is, and it's only predicted to increase worldwide over the years. While the story of my grandpa is a sad one for our family, yours doesn't have to be. Every day, people with diabetes are learning to manage their condition to prevent these unwelcome outcomes—and it really isn't that hard. Anyone can choose to do it. Yes, it can be scary and overwhelming at first, and yes, it will be difficult. There will be setbacks, like most things in life. But doing something  (taking the stairs, walking for 10 minutes, learning to read food labels, preparing just one more meal at home, losing just a 10 pounds) will help more than doing nothing.
I write this post in honor of my grandfather and I hope you will take this story to heart. If anyone you know has type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes (or could be at risk), I hope you will share this story with them so they, too, can take advantage of SparkPeople's free Spark*D program and resources. Together, we can change our future and get healthier!

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  • 93
    Diet helps with diabetes, but I'll tell you from experience that exercise helps even more. My blood sugar was 125-150, I know pre - diabetic, but I didn't want to end up on the pills like my parents, brother, and husband so I started walking. 1 hour (about 3 miles for me so not fast) every day and my blood sugar dropped to 100. Late last year I had a knee injury that kept me from walking daily for several weeks, sure enough my blood sugar started rising again. Back to walking now and it's back down. - 12/22/2014   4:06:41 PM
  • 92
    My Dad had diabetes and many other health problems associated with it. He lost the use of his kidneys and was on dialysis 3 times a week. In the end he chose not to watch his food intake or attempt to increase his activity level. I believe that he just gave up. He no longer had the energy to live.

    I have lost 75 lbs since being diagnosed with diabetes. My blood sugar is under control. If anything it runs a bit too low because some days it it hard for me to get it above 100. my doctor says that I need to watch the amount of exercising that I am doing. - 10/9/2011   2:44:38 AM
  • 91
    My Dad too suffered and I mean suffered with diabetes. Ten days before he died we had to have his right leg amputated above his knee in an effort to save him from all the infections he contracted. This made my Dad a double amputee. The first amputation approximately 8 months earlier seem to have save him from the gangerine that was ravishing his feet. We had hope of him being okay. But diabetes is unforgiving and extremely distructive not only physically but mentally and emotionally for everyone that is involved. I have lost 91 pounds and have kept it off my butt for about 6 months now. And I know my Dad is routing for me everyday! God bless you Nicole and your family. I know it must hurt you all just like it hurts us. - 7/20/2011   8:44:55 PM
  • 90
    i can relate on too many levels. diabetes has killed several folk on both sides of my family and left my dad a double amputee. i ain't gonna lie--this illness scared me into getting serious about losing weight. 10% loss of body weight means a significant improvement in too many areas to list. - 7/18/2011   4:07:12 PM
  • 89
    It was the scare of becoming diabetic that actually changed my life! Just about every member on my mom's side of the family (except my mom so far) are diabetic.
    When I was at my highest weight and had my blood checked, I was told I was becoming *dangerously close* to being diabetic.

    Found SparkPeople shortly after that blood test!
    Look at me now!! - 7/14/2011   10:42:59 AM
  • 88
    My dad, his sister, my mom's sister and a couple of cousins had diabetes. Daddy died from complications of diabetes and lung cancer( another big no no) I do family history and many of my ancestors died of diseases brought on by this disease. Heart disease, gangren of the leg, strokes, kidney disease etc. I now have been told I have it, my son has it. His A1C is over 7. He will not change. He is a 37 yr. old single dad, works 50+ hours a week, has 2 kids, no money and no time. He will not take the doc seriously. I hope we can controll this. Sorry for all the losses mentioned, we all hurt from this. - 7/13/2011   8:05:18 PM
  • 87
    Hi Nicole, I am sorry about your grandfather. I watched my mother destroy her health with cigarettes and understand the frustration. Today, I heard on television about studies that the additives in some of the foods we eat have the same chemical response in the brain as marijuana. I hope we don't find that the food industry has been purposely doing this as the cigarette industry did for years. I don't know whether it is just not caring or not wanting to or can't or denial, but sometimes for me it is just easier to grab something I am familiar with, instead of having to learn something new. Truly sorry about your grandfather. You really know what you do here on spark is so important. Thank you for what you do to encourage us and teach us. - 7/13/2011   3:27:57 PM
  • 86
    Hi Nicole Nichols, many members of my family have got/had diabetes, my late Father had it, my Aunt, Uncle, & Cousin all have it, my Grandad (Mums Dad) had it, both my Sister & i have been tested 4 it (we were both clear), & many other members also have it 2. - 7/13/2011   7:08:35 AM
    Coach Nicole I lost my dad over 5 yrs ago since he didn't do what he should have either. But thanks to his loss I seen how my eating caused me to be overweight. I have PCOS and am pre-diabetic. I am doing what he never did. I am watching carbs eating healthy and exercising. I have long way to go but I have come a long way too. - 7/13/2011   12:32:14 AM
  • 84
    Diabetes killed my grandfather too. He was in his 80's and it was the 60's, but his legs were gangrenous and he refused to have them amputated, so it killed him pretty quickly. He was master of what I practiced for years--ignoring what is true, what is happening to your body because you refuse to take care of it. I wish it had not taken me so long to wake up. - 7/12/2011   6:53:17 PM
  • 83
    Thank you so much for posting this article. I just ran into a friend of the familythat had a toe amputated a few weeks ago. I was planning on telling him about SparkPeople this week and I have printed this article for him to read.

    I am sorry for your loss of your grandpa. I know how hard it is to ache for the one you miss. What I have learned all these years later is that taking care of yourself and living a healthy lifestyle is a blessing not just for yourself, but for the whole family. - 7/12/2011   3:14:41 PM
  • 82
    Diabetes killed my dad too this February...I would never get over it... :( - 7/12/2011   2:16:07 PM
  • 81
    Sorry for your loss and the inspiration of your story, I have been diagnosed post my brother and mother and I am going to share this story with them because both have a hard time with making changes and I am not ready to loose either one of them. - 7/12/2011   12:03:51 PM
  • 80
    For what it's worth, you have my sincere condolences. Sometimes its easier to see what needs to be done by family than it is for the person. I know my Dad didn't always take the best care of himself but damned if he was going to listen to anyone else. - 7/11/2011   10:32:06 PM
  • 79
    I'm sorry with your loss and plan on sharing this with a dear friend who was recently - in her 40's diagnosed w/ type 2 and with staff at the University of Pittsburgh who have various diabetes programs - so they can offer yet another tool - as you are aware different people will take advantage of different tools.
    Those you help to save in the name of your Grandfather will carry his legacy! - 7/11/2011   8:58:00 PM
  • 78
    I really loved reading this article. My dad was diagnoised with type 1 then with type 2 diabetes. He's only 48. He was the reason I decided to really get serious about weight loss. Since that time we both have made some strides. He has loss 50+ pounds and I have lost 45. - 7/11/2011   2:50:52 PM
  • JAY75REY
    Type II Diabetes killed my mother. She was only 65 and died in 2000. She was in denial about the seriousness of the disease, and likely depressed as well, which kept her from taking care of herself and made her feel hopeless and fatalistic. She had total kidney failure, was going blind, had a heart attack. Her father (my grandfather) also had Type II diabetes and may have died from its peripheral complications (stroke, cardiovascular failure). And now I have it.

    I struggle with my weight which is the major factor right now in getting me healthier. Unlike my mom, I monitor myself, confer with my doctor regularly, and have hopes of living a long productive and happy life. I'm only 54 and don't intend to let this disease kill me prematurely. Luckily no medications are yet needed so exercise and diet are key. - 7/11/2011   1:04:17 PM
  • 76
    So sorry for your loss and thank you for sharing this story. All I have to add is that thanks to SP and you, I went from pre-diabetic at high risk in February with some pretty poor blood test results to normal with some pretty good test results in May. I'm not completely out of the woods yet; but, even my endocrinologist was amazed. So, it really does work! Thanks!
    Chris - 7/11/2011   10:06:20 AM
    Unfortunately my mother is like this. She was told that she was pre-diabetic but did nothing to change her ways. Now she has diabetes and stays away from sugar but is still obese. Now she is on a total of 6 medications up from 2. I don't live near her so I can't make sure that she exercises. I wish she would change but I really doubt it. - 7/10/2011   9:04:20 PM
  • NJ_HOU
    Sorry for your loss. My husband was diagnosed with diabetes in his late 30's about 5 years after the high blood pressure meds. He died at 51 and I do miss him. However, I agree with CLCCOOL . In fact, I think you need to realize that many of the pills and finally insulin prescribed cause severe depletion of many of the necessary elements in the body. In fact, a new study suggests that certain diabetic meds actually reduce the amount of Nitric Oxide available in the body at the cellular level which is needed desperately to survive . Further, I know 2 guys who've 'cured' their diabetes by going on the Atkins diet rather than taking insulin which requires 1 hr exercise a day. And now out of the UK an 8 week 600 cal a day diet "cured" a majority of the participants which were only 12 appears to reduce the 'fat' in the pancreas. Scientists presented their findings at the conference of the American Diabetes Association says that diet can help remove the fat in the pancreas that makes insulin in normal results. published in the guardian june 24 2011
    - 7/10/2011   7:21:19 PM
  • 73
    Thank you for this important blog and tribute to your grandfather. It is important for people to realize taking steps DOES make a difference and that we are not isolated beings - what we do (or don't do) affects others.
    I've said similar things about my Dad who smoked, and died much too young - before the last grandchild was born, before any of the grandkids graduated high school or college... So please, anyone listening, please try to kick the habit and get help if you can't do it on your own. We want you around for a long time. - 7/10/2011   3:48:29 PM
  • 72
    Thank you for sharing...reading your story was like reading about my Mom. She died from complications of diabetes. After her triple bypass surgery, her wound wouldn't heal and she had infections. Eventually she passed...right before her 73rd birthday. The doctors said her heart was that of a 40 year old, but, because of her diabetes, she couldn't heal. She also took a wide array of meds, but, didn't follow a healthful lifestyle. Doctors are quick to prescribe meds and I find that people are also quick to take them. I promised myself I will not do that and I hope through my example, neither will my kids. Again, thank you and I wish you well... - 7/10/2011   1:05:50 PM
    This hit home for me cause diabetes killed my grandfather 12 days before my 6th birthday. Even though I was young I remember him suffering, I remember coming home one day with my mom and finding my grandpa lying on the floor. It is so tragic how many lives are effected by diabetes. - 7/10/2011   12:13:44 PM
  • 70
    My husband has diabetes. He does a little, but it is precious little, to keep his sugar under control. He does take his medicine and has reduced the amount he eats, but he still eats fast food and candy like it's going out of style. It is hard, as one who loves a diabetic, to realize he has to make his own choices. I cannot force him to choose healthier. I have learned, though, not to ask if he wants the veggie with his meal. If I cook dinner, I just make his plate for him and include the veggie. If it's there, he'll eat it! - 7/10/2011   10:46:31 AM
    This really hit home because my mom had her big toe amputated two days ago, with the underlying cause being diabetes. When she was initially diagnosed many years ago she took it seriously, watched what she ate, and lost weight. But over the years she became less vigilant and ignored advice to monitor her glucose levels daily. This has been a real wake up call for her and she is now learning to monitor her glucose and will likely have to give herself insulin shots. She says she will do it. I hope so and encourage her. The doctors and nurses have been clear that it is up to her, no body else can do it or make her do it. It has also reinforced to me that I do not want to have this condition and to take care of MY self, too. - 7/10/2011   8:13:27 AM
  • 68
    Nicole I am so sorry for your loss, diabetes is a terrible illness- my DH has it, as does his mum- but we're not sure if that's genetic or coincidence.
    He has taken steps to control his illness through diet, (although could do more on the exercise front) it IS under control now.
    As a result of his diet we even totally reversed macular degeneration- caused by irratic sugar levels. I was so scared he'd lose his sight, but he's fine and just has annual checks now!
    It was wonderful of you to share your story with us and I hope it makes anyone at risk or with it to sit up and take notice. - 7/10/2011   4:52:36 AM
  • 67
    Thank you for sharing, and sorry for your loss.

    And thank you to all those of you who have shared stories about friends/family who have made lifestyle changes to control their diabetes. My father was diagnosed several years ago. He was always a larger man, but was at his highest weight when he had a heart attack. He was diagnosed shortly thereafter.

    He didn't initially get it. But when the doctor's told him he could lose his eyesight, he "got" it. He had done well losing weight, by watching what he ate, and walking. Unfortunately he slips often. Hopefully now that he's retired he'll continue to exercise regularly, and watch what he eats. - 7/10/2011   2:43:50 AM
  • 66
    It's so great to see all the comments regarding this important issue. I just found out my younger sister was diagnosed with type 2 just this week. It seems she had a reaction to her medication and is spending the weekend in the hospital. Is definitely a wake up call to all to watch and be mindful to family and friends Thank you for sharing your stories - 7/10/2011   2:09:52 AM
  • 65
    Nicole, diabetes is in my family too and I know there is a good chance I am in line for it. If only it was so easy as deciding to do something and then doing it - that seems so logical and, well, obvious. For many people it takes more than that - deciding every day, recommitting every day. Thanks for this article and for your work with the fitness and diabetes resources. - 7/9/2011   9:38:35 PM
  • CPATTI2000
    Thanks for sharing your story. I am sorry for your loss. My father is another one that is dealing with this disease and not taking it serious. I'm so fearful that we will lose him to diabetes, and I talk to him as much as I can about living a healthier lifestyle. I'm also trying to lead by example. I will definitely share your story with him and others. - 7/9/2011   9:34:37 PM
  • 63
    Thank you for sharing your story. It's hard to know for sure why people do the things they do. The best that the rest of us can do is share our experiences and care for one another in the best way we know how. I'm sorry for your loss. - 7/9/2011   7:06:18 PM
  • 62
    What a beautifully written article. Diabetes killed my grandfather too, at age 68, when I was only 12. Too early! I think often about the things you ponder in this article, trying to understand how someone can harm themselves, kill themselves slowly, instead of making changes. Thank you for working to increase diabetes understanding. - 7/9/2011   6:57:56 PM
    I am sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story with us. While losing a loved one is always painful, this is a teachable moment which could help many readers here. - 7/9/2011   6:04:13 PM
  • 60
    I too have hypoglycemia which is one reason why I'm trying really hard to modify my lifestyle. Diabetes does run in my family and I really don't want it! Nicole, I appreciate all you're doing to spread the word and provide resources! Diabetes is the leading cause of end-stage renal disease leading to dialysis, followed closely by hypertension. Being a dialysis nurse, I work with a lot of patients with diabetes with all sorts of resulting diseases--peripheral vascular disease, peripheral neuropathy, cardiovascular disease, gastroparesis, missing parts (toes, feet, legs, fingers, arms, eyes) or who've had open heart surgery before the age of 45. It's amazing how many of them do not want to change their lifestyle! I think some of it may be cultural, but still. - 7/9/2011   4:37:02 PM
  • 59
    Coach Nicole, I am sorry for your loss. Both of my parents have diabetes and they are in the group that doesn't do anything to help themselves. They know they need to, but I don't think they know how. I am going to send this to them hoping that they take advantage of the great resources. My father is extremely obese and a few years ago we almost lost him and he spent over a month in the ICU. I thought for sure that was going to be his "wake up call" but once he was out he just went back to his same old habits. I know it is overwhelming to think of losing weight and I try to be supportive, but I know in the end it is up to my parents to make the decision. - 7/9/2011   4:26:02 PM
  • 58
    I have hypoglycemia. I know it can lead to prediabetes. My grandma and my great aunt have prediabetes. this is why I'm trying to get healthy and lose weight. I really don't want my health to get worse at all. I have seen some of my other relatives care enough about their ill health to complain, but not enough to do a lot about it.

    I have one relative that did do something about it, adn shes the healthiest elder in the family. shes sort of my motivation for getting healthy. diabetes is one of the reasons why I want to lose weight and get very healthy, thanx. - 7/9/2011   4:13:40 PM
  • 57
    I can only speak from my perspective as a type 2/1 diabetic for the last 24 years(I have been on insulin for many years now so that makes me type 1 I guess)--a lot of it is a lack of hope. Diabetes is a minute-to-minute struggle. One minute I make a good decision, the next minute I screw up. In general, like the addict, we have to take it one day at a time and manage the best we can. After 23 years of coping with this disease, last April I found SparkPeople. It was an "accident" (if destiny can be called that!) I spotted a bright orange book in the library, saw it was "another" weight loss book (I have read/been on most of them.) But, I decided, why not give it another try. This one grabbed my attention right away when it described a free weight-loss website. As an early retiree due to diabetic complications I had the problem of needing to lose a lot of weight and not having a lot of money to spend on it. This, I thought, could be what I was looking for. I had used Weight Watcher's website before, but didn't think I could afford that again. But I had liked the ability to track my food and the articles--so I quickly joined Sparkpeople and almost immediately began to gain hope. Since this is running long, I will repost to my blog and finish there. Thanks for sharing Nicole. - 7/9/2011   3:38:53 PM
  • RUSSELL_40
    Sorry for your loss.

    I have diabetes also. diagnose in 2002.. went to a church health screening, and my blood sugar was 526. I was so focused on my CHF, that diabetes didn't seem like a big deal. I didn't feel bad from it, and I drank a 2 liter of Pepsi, and ate a pint of Ben & Jerry's for a year straight in 2003. Canned beefaroni, everything bad. What really made me start changing was when the doctor told me I had to lower my A1C or go on Insulin. That made it hit home. I started eating better, and then #2 wakeup. I had a low blood sugar finally. It sounded like what I was aiming for.. " low blood sugar!", but it made me realize that diabetes was a disease also, and almost as dangerous as CHF. My doctor told me that heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are the 3 cornerstones of mortality, and he probably couldn't do much for me when I got all 3, it would just be a matter of time then. I got a dietitian for 6 months free, and have gotten off ALL diabetes meds. I still have tooth problems.. 2 teeth fell out, and the rest are a mess.. but hopefully I will avoid kidney failure, or the loss of a limb, going blind etc. I think diabetes is the least understood or explained disease you can get. The initial info, and advice offered by my doctors was woeful, and most of the "fix" I had to find out the library, and implement it myself. A dietitian is crucial, and we should be attacking diabetes like child obesity, since they are related, or we will lose an entire generation. Most of the people I know are getting diabetes in their 30's, how young will the next generation get it? - 7/9/2011   3:38:13 PM
  • 55
    This blog really hit home. My Grandmother died from complications after her 4th stroke, brought on by badly controlled Type 2 Diabetes. She was a vital woman who was stolen away because she didn't follow her doctor's advice and continued to eat her high fat, high salt diet that was also loaded with sweets. She also broke her hip because she fell when her blood sugars went too low which in turn made her less physically active because she was always scared of falling again.

    I am watching my MIL struggle with this now and it has scared my kids into wanting to know if things like diabetes and heart disease are preventable. I believe for the most part they are, however heredity also plays a role but the healthier you are the more likely you are to over come genetics.

    I am not at as high a risk now as I was 40 lbs ago and certainly less likely to suffer from this than my sister or mother are, neither one watches their diet and both love their sugary snacks. I indulge too but not like I used to because watching my Grandmother and my Dad suffer from preventable diseases has made me more aware of what I put in my body.

    Thank you for sharing your story about your Grandpa and what we can all do to help prevent others from falling to the same fate. - 7/9/2011   2:46:24 PM
  • 54
    I think that being in denial is a big part of it. My doctor warned me often, so did my family. But I can't say that I really *got* it. I was in denial. I didn't take my health seriously until I had a minor heart attack last year. That made it real. Something that didn't only happen to other people. I had taken a peak at SP before, but not really worked with it. Now I eat a lot better, and am physically active. I've lost considerable weight. My doctor has removed all my diabetes meds.

    I was so involved with my work before my heart attack, that I always figured I'd deal with my health *later*. The attack made me realize there would BE no later if I didn't get things under control. One of the big motivators was seeing my adult son's sadness and concern. I realized what it would mean to him if he lost his mother. - 7/9/2011   2:08:43 PM
  • 53
    thank u for sharing this nicole - 7/9/2011   2:02:00 PM
  • 52
    So sorry for your loss Nichole. There are positive stories to be told.My dad was diagnosed with diabetes in his 70s. He didn't believe it at first. He did go to classes and kept track of his blood sugar level. This convinced him. He now makess a point of teaching the family about the disease. He will be 90 in a month and shows no problems from the diabetes. - 7/9/2011   1:42:03 PM
  • 51
    I'm so sorry for your loss. I, too, have a diabetes story in my family. My brother succumbed to the disease at age 51 (a stroke) but my father lived a long life with pre-diabetes (which was diagnosed as high blood sugar in his 20s). My father exercised almost everyday of his life. I had gestational diabetes with both pregnancies & controlled it with diet. I've been working on controlling my pre-diabetes for 20 years, exercising most days of the week and have been successful so far. It can be done! I'm still overweight (I'm working on this) but counting carbs and exercising does wonders. THANKS for helping to spread this information!! - 7/9/2011   11:11:05 AM
  • 50
    All of these comments just reinforce the data Coach Nicole presented in her article. So many lives have been affected by diabetes, some positively and negatively. On my father's side of the family, I lost two great-aunts to the disease. One tried to manage her symptoms after years of ignoring them but the damage was too great and she had a stroke and died. The other, a RN, paid it no mind until they started removing her toes and eventually her legs altogether. She was defiant until the end, when she suffered a stroke and died.

    My husband's parents both were diabetic and did little to treat their symptoms. His father , a colon cancer survivor, refused to change his habits in any way, even after living through cancer. He died suddenly in his mid 50s, his kidneys, liver and heart shutting down in rapid succession. His mother died just under a year later, in her mid 50s as well, from a heart attack during a routine surgery to attach a skin graft to a wound that refused to heal on its own. Her heart was weakened by a lifetime of ailments and complications from diabetes. When we cleaned out their trailer, we found dozens of bags of unused diabetic medical supplies and enough insulin in the refrigerator to stock a pharmacy.

    These experiences finally woke me up and I realized that I wasn't going to just let it happen to me. I am hypoglycemic, but even those symptoms have been managed just fine with the information I've learned on SparkPeople. My husband was a little late getting on the train, but now he's dropped over 75 pounds in the past two years and we're both living healthier, and hopefully longer, lives. - 7/9/2011   11:03:18 AM
  • 49
    So sorry to hear about your loss. I too lost a loved one to diabetes. My brothe. He was 35 and he sounded a lot like your grandfather. The denial and the refusing to change his diet and exercise. He barely even went to the doctor. I miss him. Thank you for this article and all the hard work you do to improve our lives.
    - 7/9/2011   10:26:21 AM
  • 48
    My step dad took care of himself, when he learned that he had diabetes. He did change his diet & did everything right. But, after living with the disease for 20 years, the Drs decided that they should put him on dialisys. According to his #'s he didn't need it, but the economy was bad & Drs needed the $. He did get bad, then. Then, they decided to put him in the hospital. That was the end, they did everything wrong! They never got him out of bed to move around & ofcourse, he got ulcers & slowly they kept removing parts of him. This broke his heart, he was always active & an athlete. So, to loose his legs & not be able to fish, was a huge blow to him. Finally, the hospital, drs & diabetes won. We lost one of the most wonderful men I have known. My mother lost her best friend & her one true love. They really had a love story like no other!
    So, basically, if I didn't hate drs before & make an effort to stay away form them, I do now!! - 7/9/2011   9:06:49 AM
  • 47
    Nicole, my heartfelt condolences on the loss of your beloved grandpa. It's always most difficult to know the right things to do, show someone the right things to do and yet they ignore the advice. . . leading to the devastating consequences, as with your grandpa and his diabetes.

    I was diagnosed in Jan. 2010 w/type 2 diabetes . . . blood sugar 330. A1C 12. Yikes! I didn't join SP till Feb. 2010, but that was the beginning of the best chapter of my life! I have lost 92 lbs. (since Nov. 2009), my blood sugar (FBS) is never higher than 80, my A1C is 5.4. Yup . . . it CAN be done, but you really have to want it bad, because it is not easy. But in my head, the alternatives were even more scarey and difficult!!

    Keep up your wonderful work, Nicole. It is saving lives . . . like MINE! - 7/9/2011   9:04:55 AM
  • 46
    Diabetes also killed my mother-in-law and my husband has known he's had it for years but doesn't want to do anything about his diet or lack of exercise. He finally went to the Dr last year and within a week was having a heart stent put in to open an artery 90% blocked. Now he says he doesn't have to change his diet because he has a "pill for that". Because of med he can keep the #'s in the right range, but he still doesn't get it!! I finally went to the Dr with him and she let him have it. I'm hoping that will make him really start thinking. - 7/9/2011   8:39:18 AM
  • 45
    My mother, and everyone in her family, died very young from diabetes-related complications: heart disease, stroke, hypertension. My mother had her first stroke at age 47, and was gone by 56. She considered eating right and exercising to be punishment rather than the means to regain her health. I agree with comments that depression also comes into play. My mom used food to self-medicate, which of course just made her condition worse. I do consider that my mom slowly killed herself, and when she died I vowed that I would NOT do to my kids what she did to hers, which was choose food over her children. I had been told by her doctor that since everyone in my mother's family had diabetes it was simply a matter of time that I would develop it myself. But an epiphany came when I moved to another state and had to find a new doctor, who told me that as long as I keep my weight at a healthy level and pay attention to my diet and activity, it is NOT a foregone conclusion that I will become diabetic. Hallellujah! So now I don't feel like I have a death warrant hanging over my head. Eating well and remaining active are no longer done in a frantic attempt to "postpone the inevitable," but to LIVE! I plan to be around for a very long time, for my kids and grandkids. - 7/9/2011   8:34:12 AM
  • 44
    I year ago I was diagnosed with type 2. The diagnosis and all the things I know are the result of unchecked diabetes scared the living pants off me! I made a vow to myself and my doctor that my story would be different. I would NOT have diabetes! No way, no how! Spark People has been a huge part of my now clean bill of health. It has literally saved my life. A year later my doctor is amazed, my numbers are great, I'm down 77 pounds, and I feel amazing. I give SP 99% of the credit for the transformation. I couldn't have done it without you! Your grandfather might not have listened, but I did. Thank you! - 7/9/2011   8:21:10 AM

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