Angie’s Inheritance |
Angela Schultz |
NUR/ 427 |
Diabetes is a chronic disease sweeping our nation. Angie knows that all too well. Her family has been plagued by diabetes for generations. No one on her Mother’s side of the family seems able to escape the disease, and it is prevalent on her Father’s side as well. In her late twenties, she describes experiencing what she recognized as classic diabetes symptoms, along with severe fatigue and weight gain. Her Doctor at that time suspected she had chronic fatigue syndrome, but felt she was too young to be diabetic. ...view middle of the document...
Her Great Grandfather died of complications of diabetes before 1920, leaving behind eleven children to be raised by his widow during the great depression. In those days, according to the family story, insulin was thick, black and extremely painful to inject. It left terrible sores where the injection sites would abscess. Despite their struggles to survive, none of the family blamed him for having difficulty with compliance. At age 11, Angie watched her Great Grandmother slowly die from horrifying complications of Diabetes. The smell of insulin evokes powerful memories of her beloved Great Grandmothers’ home. She visited there regularly with her Mother to draw up syringes after her Grandmother started to lose her sight. Angie loved to help pick apples from the great sprawling tree in the yard. The apples became tart home-canned applesauce prepared with no sugar. Despite doing everything as right as they knew how, Diabetes ravaged her Great Grandmothers body with vascular complications. She refused an amputation, and died in a nursing home; her leg black and stinking by the time she finally passed. Angie vividly recalls sneaking peeks under the stiff white sheet, the blackness creeping further up the leg each time she looked. In Angie’s family, Sunday dinners and holiday meals were lavish, but never included sugary drinks or sweets. Pink packets of bitter sweetener graced cereal bowels. Angel food cake with unsweetened strawberries was the Birthday cake of choice. Still, Diabetes raged on, generation to generation. Growing up, Angie maintained close ties with cousins. They were, and still are, her best friends. No thought was given to Diabetes, or its ever present impact on the family. It was expected, and accepted as inevitable when you grow up.
Angie feels blessed to have a good job with good insurance; which thus far, covers her care with reasonable copays. She notes that since starting insulin, the copay costs have gone up significantly. Diabetic testing supplies are quite pricey as well, and being on insulin means more frequent testing. She worries that complications could impact her ability to work. If she didn’t have insurance, she doesn’t know what she would do to manage the cost. Angie is married with three boys. Her husband is supportive of her disease management, but they struggle with family food choices. Balancing healthy foods with busy schedules and picky palates is not easy. Angie admits she often gives in to exhaustion and eats frozen items or fast food. She reports struggling to implement a low carbohydrate diet free of grains. When she is able to accomplish this for sustained periods of time, she loses weight and feels better. Spaghetti squash in place of pasta has been a successful substitution, if the boys are unaware of what they are eating.
Angie holds vivid memories and flowery family folklore as motivation to manage her Diabetes. She describes, from a young age, dreading the day when she must carefully monitor her...