setting goals

The Oldest Living Diabetic

Ginger Vieira Health Guide March 19, 2007
  • I was getting my eyebrowswaxed before heading off to class and the hairdresser explained to me what ahorrible day she was having because her grandfather had just passed away. Hewas 73 years old. He had diabetes—she couldn’t tell me which kind, but I thinkit was probably Type 2—among an impressive assortment of other healthconditions. Both his legs had been amputated, and he also had eye problems,kidney problems, liver problems, etc. I declined to tell her I had diabetes aswell, because I’m sure I would’ve gotten a reaction like, “Oh…geez…I’m sorry,”and the assumption that someday I would be legless, too.

    As she continued to painfully rip out the hair above myeyes, I thought about her legless grandfather and reminded myself: I want to bethe longest living diabetic there ever was; 73 is not long enough. When I’m 73years old I plan to be teaching yoga classes, sipping freshly squeezedgrapefruit juice on my lake-house porch with my husband and our dogs, andwriting articles about Living WithDiabetes As A Senior Citizen in my free time.

    If I really want to live to be one hundred years old, I’mgoing to have to start taking action now.As a diabetic, I don’t have to use my imagination to know what my body willbe like in 50 years if I don’t take care of it as best I can. All I have to dois listen to my hairdresser and read one of the gazillion news reports onCNN.com. If you have diabetes and you don’t take care of it, chances are you’llend up with kidney problems, eye problems, liver problems, and quite possibly,legless.

    None of the above will work well with my personal plans.

    No more excuses. Just because I’m in my twenties doesn’tmean I can do whatever I want to my body. Right now counts. Every high bloodsugar reading makes a difference on my future. There is no time to dilly-dally.I want to live a long time, so I better start living well right now.

    That means: Exercising daily, eating healthfully, taking myvitamins, testing my blood sugar often and maintaining a positive attitudetowards this disease that is inevitably the center of my life. It doesn’t meanI have to be perfect. Just because I’m told I have diabetes doesn’t mean Isuddenly, magically, don’t likechocolate or pizza anymore. It doesn’t mean I’d always rather go for a run thanwatch Seinfeld reruns. It just means I need to make a strong effort to make mostly healthy choices and remember whatmy priorities are.

     Nothing can come before diabetes. It’s hard to function anddo the daily things I want to do if I’m seizing on the floor or comatose.Taking care of my blood sugar comes first, so the rest can be possible. I wantto live to be one hundred, at least,so diabetes has got to be at the top of the list. Life is just too fun to callit quits after only 73 years.