Does diabetes run in your family? It does in many—most often with type 2 diabetes, but sometimes with type 1.
No matter the type, we wanted to hear from our Facebook fans how diabetes can affect the different generations of a family. All week long, we will feature their stories!
Name: Kitha Lloyd
Location: Bowling Green, Ky.
I’ve had type 1 diabetes for 23 years now, since I was 12. It’s been a hard battle.
Both types of diabetes run in my family, and both types have resulted in early deaths. My mom also had type 1; she was diagnosed at age 24. My grandfather and uncles and aunts all had type 2 diabetes, diagnosed in their 30s-60s and insulin-dependent by the end. Diabetes has made me closer to my family, because they became more protective of me.
I did not grow up worried about this disease; my parents didn’t worry either. I knew mom had it and I saw her taking shots, but it never was an issue. It wasn’t until I was really sick, vomiting and unable to hold anything down, that they took me to the family doctor, who told them to rush me to the ER.
They ran tests and took X-rays, only to find out I was near death. By that point, diabetes had made me lose kidney function and eaten away the lining of my stomach. I spent two weeks recovering and staring at an insulin drip. There I learned how to take shots, how to eat well and about the warning signs of high and low blood glucose. I went into the hospital a young child with little to no responsibility. I left a different person, someone who was no longer the norm.
Though my family was supportive of me, they also worried. Sports or anything that could cause a sudden drop in blood glucose was off limits. I couldn’t eat what my friends ate or play on the softball team. All my peers and teachers knew, so they watched me as well. I felt violated by this disease, because I was not allowed to be normal.
I try to do my best to manage diabetes, but people don’t understand, and perfection is always expected. The general public doesn’t understand this disease. I wear an insulin pump (which I love!) and people always ask what it is. When I take shots people always seem to think bad things of me. When I say I have diabetes, they assume I can eat better or exercise—and poof! I’ll be all better.
I used to be ashamed of diabetes, but today I gladly call her “my sidekick.” I hate her but I love her. It’s a weird romance. We fight daily. Diabetes will never leave me and I’m sure she will make her home again in another family member one day.
So far I’m blessed that my two children haven’t developed diabetes, and I hope it remains that way. But I do worry about it very much—because I know how hard it can be. If they get sick, like a stomach bug, I always fear they are going to meet diabetes. I’ve been trying not to stress about it, and I’m getting better over time.
But if diabetes does come knocking again, this mom is definitely a pro! I would help them by teaching them everything I know.