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The Complete Manual on Diabetes...well, sort of

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The first time I heard the word diabetes I had to be about twelve or thirteen. Soon after, mom changed the way she cooked. Instead of chicken cooked in the hottest of vegetable oil, we began eating meats that were boiled, baked, broiled, and grilled. Boy, did I love the way frying chicken smelled and sounded. You could even smell it outside the door leading up to the entrance of the house.

Anyway, I wasn’t put out about it really. Hey, my parents were old school – what was cooked, you ate. Period. No discussion. I even remember ‘veggie plates.’ I was vocal about this move though. A growing girl can only sacrifice so much. I needed my meat protein! Didn’t do any good. Like I said, old school parents – what was cooked was what was eaten. And that datburn salt substitute, Mrs. Dash! Yeck!

I think mom was secretly glad about the diet changes (although not about diabetes) because then she wouldn’t have to fend off the barrage of sweets to greasy fish plates bought at the corner fish market. Dad knew all the greasy spoons in town and they knew him too. Big John they called him. And big he was. At one point, he weighed past 300 pounds. He was diagnosed with diabetes in his early 30’s. Dad purposely lived to an excess. He had been a heavy drinker pre-diabetes; bourbon was his drink of choice. Even though I don’t smoke, I still love the smell of sweet tobacco pipe smoke because it reminds me of him. And as previously alluded, he loved tasty foods. So why am I talking about my father having diabetes when this website is directed towards women? Because my dad’s diabetes affected not only him; but also the women in his life, my mother and me. I saw my mother, who was the main caretaker, slowly transform from a beautiful, shapely, and energetic woman into a tired, haggard, rotund, middle-aged lady.

No one came to us and said this is how you do this while taking care of yourself. Plus mom is not the type to hem and haw about things. She just rolls up her sleeves and goes to work. And work she did – her fingers, her bones and her nerves. Pop began to take meds at first. Then, he gave himself insulin shots.

Add a Comment6 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

Great article, Dita. Thanks for empowering us about his serious disease. I love reading you on Skirt! ~Kim

April 3, 2009 - 10:02am
(reply to Anonymous)

Thanks so much Kim!!

April 3, 2009 - 10:45am

Dita, thank you so much for sharing your experience with our Empowher readers. It is a profound illustration of how small, everyday, seemingly ordinary things can add up over time to be out of control.

Not only is diabetes the 7th leading cause of death in women, it is also growing at an unprecedented pace in the United States. Both adults and teens -- which used to be unheard of -- are getting Type II diabetes at an alarming pace over the last 20 years; the journal "Diabetic Care" called it an "emerging epidemic."

What's the primary cause? Our tendency toward overweight and obesity is the main villain. More than 80 percent of the teens with diabetes are overweight, and 40 percent of them are clinically obese. And going straight toward your point, Dita, is the fact that anytime a teenager has diabetes, she or he most likely has a parent for a caretaker.

If someone is interested in reading more about diabetes, symptoms, causes and treatment, here are some resources:



April 2, 2009 - 8:36am
EmpowHER Guest


You really hit the nail on the head, when one member of the
family is affected by diabetes it affects everyone in the
family.I also enjoyed the encouragement you gave, that
diabetes can be controlled, it's not a death sentence

April 1, 2009 - 3:45pm
EmpowHER Guest

I really enjoyed your article, it is very informative

April 1, 2009 - 3:31pm

As a writer and an advocate for women's issues, I jumped at the chance to write for a medium such as Empowher.com. Please visit the following site and preview my poetry describing womanhood - it's power, it's beauty, and sometimes pain:


March 31, 2009 - 6:50pm
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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.


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