Desperate, frustrated, worried, terrified, fearful, determined are just a few words that describe how I feel about my mother's uncontrolled type 2 DM. I have never joined a forum like this and do not know what to expect, but at the very least I hope that the simple act of typing my thoughts out helps me rationalize my situation. I am a medical student, and sometimes I wish that I didn't know about all of the horrible complications that can result from uncontrolled diabetes. Because of my medical background, I have become increasingly anxious and desperate to open my mother's eyes to the fate that is awaiting her if she does not change. My sister and I never really knew what it was like to have grandparents, and we want, hope, need our mother to change so that if we ever have children, she will be here.
My mother was diagnosed with diabetes about 10-15 years ago, and is currently managing her condition with medications. I remember when she was first diagnosed, I bought her and my father a starter kit for weight watchers in the hope that lifestyle changes would slow the progression of her disease. I was in high school and had good intentions, but in retrospect, I probably offended them with this gift. This would be the first of many failed attempts to help my mother. When I was in college, I worked in a hospital and was exposed to the frightening consequences of diabetes; I saw patients in ESRD on dialysis, patients with necrotic limbs that were to be amputated, patients nearly blind with CHF. It was clear that diabetes was not a benign condition, though it seemed to be perceived that way in my family. I started a rotation in a research laboratory that focused on type 2 diabetes, and the principal investigator of the lab gave me some publications to read on the issue. I was overjoyed to discover that exercise and dietary modifications have reverted some patients from overt diabetes to a pre-diabetic metabolic state. I called my mom and told her about the article I had read, and her response, 'Sure, diet and exercise can work. For some people.', implying that such simple measures would not be effective for her. Frustrating!!!! One year ago I received an email from a student conducting a study about family members of diabetic patients, and I decided to participate. This experience taught me how differently people regard their disease; one girl's grandmother exercised daily, and would only take a small bite of a desert on an occasion such as Thanksgiving, where temptations are rampant. Another girl took her mom for walks and checked her feet every day. I called my dad to ask if he had been checking my mom's feet, and he had absolutely no idea what I was talking about. I decided that both of my parents needed an education and enrolled them in a free course taught at a local hospital. I guess I have made my point several times now; I have tried to make a difference countless times, to no avail. I am not the only one. My sister participated in a community run to raise money for diabetes research, hoping that it would motivate our mom to make some crucial changes. She even tried to persuade her to join her in a 5k walk for the cause, to no avail. My parents are retired and theoretically have all the time in the world to exercise, walk around, enjoy life. My mom even had a knee replacement a couple of years ago, but she is just as inactive as she was before she had the surgery.
My mother has always been sedentary, but was of average weight until around the time of her diagnosis. Yesterday my sister and I saw an old family photograph and we were astonished to see how thin our mother looked then, relative to her current state. Yesterday we were at my cousin's graduation party with extended family, and over the course of 4 hours my mom ordered a hamburger, had champagne, and ate a large slice of cheesecake, bread pudding, and God only knows what else. I noticed that she had to go to the bathroom several times during the course of the evening, and later appeared to be diaphoretic. These physical signs in addition to her physical intolerance and great shortness of breath during a recent evening walk leads me to believe that her diabetes is on the verge of needing insulin therapy and/or she has the early signs of congestive heart failure.
I don't know if anybody reads or responds to posts like these, but any advice would be greatly appreciated. Please do not tell me that I should give up because change comes from within, because that is something that I am not willing to do. I refuse to give up on the people that I love and care about. She likely already finds me to be annoying since I always ask her to go on walks with me when I am in town and eat healthy to try to set a good example, but I don't care because I love her and do not want to look back one day and wish that I had done more. I feel even more liable for my mother's health considering the fact that I am going to be a physician; if I can't motivate my mother to make lifestyle changes, then how can I ever expect to make a difference in my patients' lives?
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