My Day with Diabetes
I volunteered to give one of my neighbors a ride to a doctor’s appointment a few days ago. I had never met her and it was nice getting to know each other on the drive there. She is about 62 years old and has Diabetes, Fibromyalgia, COPD, was in a car accident in December, and had pneumonia in January. Wow! I was surprised she was so upbeat and frankly, upright. I took her to the pain clinic and then took her to the hospital where her husband was having his leg amputated due to Diabetes. Like many of us over 50, she had three other people living with her besides her husband: One grown son, one grandson and one friend of a grandson. That will be a topic of another blog…
As I waited in the pain clinic while she saw her care provider, I overheard an older couple bantering about how the husband had a lucky coin, and his wife chiding him about how he should give it to her because he would lose it. He said he wanted to keep it because, “If it weren’t for bad luck I’d have no luck at all.” I started giggling as they went back and forth in a comfortable, friendly teasing session. I asked them to forgive my eavesdropping and that’s when they told me their story. The husband had taken a fall in September and broke his left hip. Due to his Diabetes, he developed a sore on his lower left leg that was not healing, and a cast had been put on it three times with poor results. He also had his left knee replaced a few years ago. He carried his lucky coin in his right pocket and I suggested he switch it to his left pocket. He needed some luck on his left!
While the husband stepped out, his wife told me her story. She also had Diabetes, plus a heart transplant 11 years ago, obesity, and chronic hip pain. How did this couple keep such a positive, friendly attitude? It was remarkable. When it came time for them to leave the wife asked me where I worked as a nurse and I told her I was actually writing a book about resilient aging. The husband then said, “Aging sucks!” He said it with sincerity and emotion, and even a little anger. The wife agreed, saying, “When I turned 60 everything went downhill!”
Well two things occurred to me that day. First of all, I met two couples, and both couples were sharing the diagnosis of Diabetes. And both couples seemed to have a genuine love and respect for their partners, and a positive attitude in the face of Diabetes and other diagnoses. I did a bit of research about Diabetes and discovered that the incidence of Diabetes has increased in adults aged 65-79 from 6.9 per thousand in 1980 to 12.4 per thousand in 2010 (CDC). That’s almost double! In 2010 almost 27% of people over 65 had Diabetes (See the CDC Fact Sheet). That’s a lot!
My Dad died of complications from Diabetes when he was 65, which puts me at risk for developing it myself. Meeting those 2 couples that day has inspired me to do better with my exercise and diet. It also inspired me to be upbeat and keep a positive attitude in the face of my challenges. And to tell the truth it inspired me to appreciate my own husband of 36 years. These couples very obviously loved and cherished one another each and depended on each other for support and encouragement. I saw sadness that day but I also saw a lot of love and hope.