Reflecting on the Past Gives New Perspective On Life With Diabetes

Gretchen Becker Health Guide
  • Last month, the weather was sunny and crisp here in New England, so I drove to a scenic side road not far away and actually went for the walk I plan to take every other day. The foliage was glorious.

    As I turned down a side road I came upon an old cemetery. Most of the graves are very old, 1820 to 1880, and as you walk through a place like this you notice how many little children are buried here. Some families have four or five small children's graves: infant son of so-and-so; infant daughter; son Isaac, age 4; daughter Rebekah, age 6.

    I looked at them and tried to imagine what it must have been like for those mothers, giving birth in rough cabins, perhaps even alone. Losing a child every other year, sometimes several at a time when there were epidemics of typhoid and other diseases. Always worried that the man of the family, out alone in the woods chopping down trees with an ax, might not return from his work, caught in a blizzard or hit by a falling tree, with no one to call for help.

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    Then as I walked back uphill, I started getting tired and looked forward to reaching my car. And I thought of those who left this area and walked toward California. I got tired after 30 minutes of walking uphill, and they walked across the entire continent. When they got wherever they were going, they couldn't relax; they had to start chopping down trees and building houses and breaking the sod and washing the clothes in a frigid stream.

    And I thought, Well, I sometimes feel angry because at the age of 56 I got diabetes and so I can't eat Rice-a-Roni and pizza. But what would these people, the ones who lived here before, think of my peevishness?


    "So you can't eat pizza. Big deal! You're alive. So many of of us died young. We never even knew what pizza was. Everything we ate we had to hunt or grow ourselves. So you're sometimes hungry and you can't eat? Tough bananas! Sometimes, as in the year "1820 and Froze to Death," when there was frost every month of the year and all the crops failed, we were hungry all year. Some of us starved to death. What do you have to complain about?"

    Yes, having diabetes is no fun. But thinking of how others have lived puts my situation into perspective.

Published On: November 25, 2007