Blood work would determine whether I was pre-diabetic or diabetic. Tests would determine fasting blood sugar, including A1c summary of my blood sugar level over the previous three months.
“Why should I be worried?” I asked my doctor at my yearly exam. “I follow a healthy Mediterranean diet and I exercise three or more days a week. My mother had diabetes but I am not going to go down that same rabbit hole.
Just having the conversation transported me back to the days when I was solely responsible for my mother’s care. I remember seeing the jar of sugarless lifesavers on her counter, but finding candy wrappers in her trashcan.
In earlier days, when my mom would take me shopping for new clothes for school, she always planned a stop to get a soda….even if it was ten o’clock in the morning. “It’s always a good time for a chocolate soda or a hot fudge sundae,” she would explain. It was a tradition. Her father owned a drug store that included a soda counter. It was her afternoon or weekend delight to sit at that counter and order whatever chocolate delight was available that day. My grandfather sold the business before I could enjoy those same delicacies, but I heard so much about those days from my mom.
One day I walked in the house to find my mother, now in her seventies, wearing a wig and black leotards. “I’m diabetic now,” she said. “So I am joining a Richard Simmons exercise class down the street. I have to have a special diet and lots of exercise.”
I never asked about that diet. I just left it up to her to determine what she should eat. I never asked if she should eat the birthday cakes, or why she always had a lifesaver or a cough drop in her mouth. I was truly ignorant about the decisions that she had to make on a daily basis.
But, driving home from a weekend trip recently, my husband and I stopped in to a gas station and I went inside the store to buy snacks for the ride home. What would I find to eat, I wondered, if I was diabetic? The answer was clearly…not one thing.
I returned to the car, now frustrated. “There was nothing for me there,” I complained. “If I become diabetic like my mother, there is nothing here for me to eat. That is not fair!”
So there I was, finally facing the possibility that I would become my mother, inherit her diabetes, and have to change my life on a daily basis. I looked in the mirror and faced my mother’s daughter. I wondered why I had not thought about how she felt when she was diagnosed. I wondered how I would feel if I was. I yearned to have a conversation with her. The conversation she probably wanted to have with me long ago. That opportunity was over. Now what was left was getting the results of the blood tests.
I cleaned my pantry and discarded the bread, the candy and the cookies. I opened the freezer. There were my favorites: frozen yogurt, pizza and chocolate croissants. I cringed at the thought of not being able to enjoy these foods any more. I hoped the popcorn could stay.
I would think healthy thoughts and hope for the best when the test results came in. I wish I could share the results with my mom.