Mom’s younger brother suffered a heart attack while at the polling place in the Philippines on May 13th – Election Day. Already a quadriplegic, the wheelchair gave him some mobility. Like my late mother, Uncle Pedy suffered diabetes and his amputation and heart attack were but manifestations of the disease.
Meanwhile my sister will be traveling to Manila from her home province to meet with my brother who’s eyesight is fast fading away. I was told his eyes suddenly got swollen and then he couldn’t see. He too has diabetes so I strongly suspect diabetic retinopathy. He was told he needs immediate eye surgery or he might totally lose his chance to see again at 38.
Like many of the men in the Philippines, they hate seeing a doctor. Like visiting one would diminish their macho character, they think they are invisible to any ailments so much so that when they are stricken, it is almost always too late to cure or to remedy.
We gave him means to measure his blood glucose but claims he couldn’t stand the sight of blood. And that is just a pin prick. For a year now, he’s reduced his carbohydrate intake but his job involves a lot of occasions where he’s invited for a drink. I told him alcohol is worst than eating rice. Also, failing to continue taking his maintenance medicine dooms him. With no comprehensive health insurance in the country and expensive, their health is not their priority.
My sister and I carry the disease too and am just grateful that I have a longer walk to/from the office that serves as my exercise. I have been borderline for more than ten years now but with what happened to my uncle and brother, they are grim reminders of the diseases that diabetes can punish you if left unchecked.
My Mom was born to a family of 13 children but I heard one set of twins died very young. But the ones I have known from my childhood – most of them died from the side effects of diabetes.
Mom’s mother passed away when she was 84 and my eldest aunt, who is relatively healthy is about of the same age. But out of 13, only five of them have survived.
Mom would have been a good candidate to fight her diabetes. She lives in the US, educated and had access to medical care, she watched what she ate, exercised – she did everything right. But in the end it was not her diabetes that killed her, it was liver cancer which I can only surmise was brought on by her diabetes.
I have gained so much weight from the time I took care of mother, I blamed it on stress or eating all the extra food I prepared and not wanting to waste them, while she tried to find an appetite but I know it is time for me to take control of my health. I love food too but through the years, I have learned to cut down on sweets. A major challenge is rice which I enjoy dinner time but if I moderate it, it should work.
Otherwise, I might just add myself to the statistics and I certainly won’t be able to blame anyone but me.