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Tuesday, March 21, 2006
You Made Your Bed... go lie in it. Or lay in it. Or eat crackers and cheese in it, whatever floats your boat. Someone once commented against this blog that they've heard me utter some pretty insensitive things (if you've never outright said that in my comments, then it's not you I'm talking about - the person who said it just that way knows who they are). Well, I'm about to totally make their day, because how much more insensitive can you get than when you talk about family.

We all make decisions every day, and some of them affect large portions of our lives, and others decisions don't mean so much. One of the biggest decisions someone can make about their lives has to do with the state of one's health, based on what is in the family history. Assuming that you actually know things about your family medical history. I don't - I was adopted as a baby, and know nothing. So if anyone crops up, it will be an unpleasant (or pleasant, depending on what it is) surprise.

My Mom comes from a diabetic family. Her mother, and her mother's 4 sisters, has diabetes and this has been a known quantity since the late 1960s. Back then, my 5'2" tall Mom was a size 2. Young and thin. Then my brother came along, and I don't know if it was general laziness or depression over knowing that her son is autistic, but Mom started gaining weight. She liked her food. She went from that gorgeous size 2 she was to size large-and-getting-larger. She topped the scales at 180 once, and I'm not sure where she is with her weight now.

So, we watched all of grandma's sisters be afflicted with diabetes, and suffer blindness, amputations, and other related illnesses as they slowly died each day. My grandmother was the last of them to pass away, almost exactly two years ago now. We knew that the odds were against Mom, yet she continued to enjoy eating and doing nothing about her health. She hates doctors, and exercising is against her life goal of sitting and watching television and eating as she does so. Not that there's that much wrong with sitting and watching television - I do it too. But I also hit the gym at least 3 to 4 times a week, because I don't know what lurks in my history, and a little exercise never hurt anyone, right?

Dad and I have been on Mom about her weight and her health since I was a teenager, and her mother was suffering through the worst of the transitions to a diabetic lifestyle. Of course, Grandma never did change her diet - she would still indulge in a glass of wine or eat things she shouldn't. Exercise wasn't an issue - she had her farm filled with gardens and cows and chickens to take care of. She rose at sunrise and worked all day. She wasn't thin but more like a barrelplug of a woman, but what else do you expect from an Italian grandmother who came from the old country and worked on her farm all day? That's probably what kept her going into her 70s, until the diabetes took it's toll and she couldn't see and her heart was failing on her.

My Mom has been diagnosed with the early stages of diabetes. She's probably 170 pounds now, on that same 5'2" frame of hers, and still enjoying eating. Of course now she's eating cauliflower and collard greens because she figures that would be the best way to fight her ailment instead of getting up and getting some exercise. Yup, that's how I found out - Mom couldn't come to the phone to wish me a happy anniversary because she was eating, and Dad told me what she was eating. I was silent for a moment, and then said that that was one of the stupidest things that I had ever heard. DH agreed too.

There have been a few people who have expressed sympathy to me when I let them know that Mom is diabetic, but I refused the offer. I don't need sympathy, and neither does my mother - she made her bed, and has to lie in it now. I don't pity her either. She brought this on herself and is going to have to live with it, when she could have been doing something about it all these years to keep herself from having to deal with it that much longer (because the doc has said that diet and exercise would help her immensely in putting off a diagnosis based on family history). I feel sorry for my Dad who is going to have to put up with this woman who could do something as simple as exercise and banish most of her problems with that and a careful diet.

My poor Dad - he's given up ice cream, and doesn't drink soda all that often anymore, and is taking better care of himself because he knows what lurks in his history. Cancer. Stomach cancer and naturally occuring lung cancer. He's fighting his cholesterol, and making sure he's going to live as long as he can. Did I shed a tear when he told me about Mom? No....

...but I'm already shedding them waiting on his diagnosis, and hoping that it will never come.