Friday, June 27, 2008



Over the past few weeks, thanks to reconnects on Facebook and meeting a few dbloggers face to face, I’ve been asked about my late sister Debbie -in detail. People wanted to know why diabetes did such a number on her. Why it took her life.

I think there are many reasons, not all having to do with The Big D. Debbie’s health was fragile to begin with, diabetes or not.

When she was diagnosed, (in the late 60’s) the diabetes diet was strict and archaic in terms of diabetes today. There was no such thing as Blood Sugar testing at home; urine testing tablets and tape were the only choices.
HA1C’s didn’t exist; neither did support systems, in real time or on the web.
Insulin pumps were a pipe dream and insulin was obtained through cows and piggies.
Needles had to be boiled and sharpened, and were never pleasant.

Diabetes treatment in the last 10 to 20 years is historic to say the least.

The freedom we have to day is so crazy compared to how it used to be.

I mean my sister couldn’t eat anything with sugar, and boy did she overcompensate when she did. She snuck food at all hours. Food and alcohol became her addictions and that addictive behavior followed her into adulthood.

Her alcoholism is another posting in itself. Let’s just say alcoholism can do a number on one’s kidneys, and when she finally quit, it was to late.

But what really worked against her (at least in my eyes,) is the fact that Debbie wanted so desperately to fit everyone else’s ideal of normal.

If I could change one thing for my sister Debbie, (besides never having been diagnosed with Diabetes) it would be to change what her ideal of normal was, especially when she was a teenager and in college, when most of her damage was done.

I guess what I’m trying to say to those in dblogville is screw everyone’s version of normal, diabetic or not. What’s normal for a diabetic is not considered normal for the rest of the population. It is what it is…. And what it is, is DIFFERENT.

Different is ok.
Different works for me.

My blood sugar and A1C goals are different than yours, and I’m fine with that.
I’m fine with checking my blood sugar, no matter where I am or who is with me.
Debbie wasn’t.
She tried to be so damn “normal." Normal was eating and drinking everything she wanted, going into DKA, and doing drugs, so that she could fit in with experimental teenage years that occurred in the 70’s. She over compensated when it came to “being normal” and the damage was major.

WHY BE NORMAL? Some people will sit in freezing stadium (shirtless and with faces painted) on a Sunday afternoon to be part of THE PACK. I THINK THAT’S INSANE. To them, it’s TOTALLY normal.

Some people stay with someone because they are afraid to be alone. That’s not only not normal, it’s really quite sad.

Some people go the Vegan route, no animal products ingested at all. I think that’s difficult and limiting to say the least. They think it’s normal.

Some folks love the Hannah Montana. I just don’t get it.
To them – NORMAL.

Everyone has a different ideal of normal. Instead of relying on some else’s ideal of the word, how about embracing what the world represents to each of us individually.

While there is a format to diabetes, it needs to be fined tuned for the individual.

Diabetes is a different creature every day.
We’ve all said that, and we all need to practice that.
Now, we all need to give ourselves a break and say," I'm really doing the best I can and some days are better than others. Shit happens, with our life and our diabetes."

We need to be proud of ourselves for all our hard work regarding diabetes, even when our numbers aren't where we'd like them to be.

We never get a vacation from D, and we deal with it everyday. Some days, are just better than others.

I wish Debbie had focused on what was normal for her, instead of trying to live everyone else’s view of the word. I wish she could have met all my nephews and nieces, watched with pride as our niece perform on Broadway, be blown away at our nephews “great brain” as he works towards completing his Doctorate at Berkley, and I wish she could have met out oldest nephew's son.

I wish she had the confidence to be and love herself, and I wish she didn’t have to suffer.

I wonder what my life would have been like, had her view of what was normal had been different.

I don’t know why I’m really writing all this. Maybe it’s because a few friends from grade school recently told me they had no ideal that Debbie had been so sick, because I had kept it to myself.

Maybe it’s because I’m SO HORMONAL and I’m craving salt and chocolate & can actually see my 5 lb water weight gain happening right before my eyes.

Maybe it’s because I want people in dBlogville to know that while their D reality is different than the “norm,” it’s so much better than what it had been in the past.

Maybe I need to remind myself of how far we've come, and how far we still have to go.

Maybe I just needed to remind myself of Debbie.


Scott K. Johnson said...

Great post Kel.

Karen said...

What ever the reason you wrote this post, I'm so glad you did. It made me cry - but that's okay . . . . I think I needed a good cry. Thank you - and let's each be our own NORMAL together!

Unknown said...

Good post...

The ironic thing is that the things that make diabetics fear they'll appear less normal are the things that make us FEEL normal.

I worried about how I'd look with an insulin pump, but quickly realized that it made me FEEL non-diabetic.

How you feel beats how you look any day of the week...


k2 said...

Scott -
Glad u liked it. I want us all to remember how hard we work daily, and how kick ass we really are!

Karen -
Sorry to make u cry, but if u needed a "good" cry, I'm glad I could help!

Being our own NORMAL together works for me!

Marcus -
Great points!
And feeling good automatically makes us look good ;)

Shannon said...

I wish your sister could've read this before it got to be too late for her.

Thank you for sharing this with us.

Araby62 (a.k.a. Kathy) said...

Really liked this post. Have a good weekend :)

Cara said...

Kelly, you said it all. Thanks.

Unknown said...

*hugs* This was a fantastic post. And I'm sure, that similar to myself, no one has ever accused you of being normal. ;)

I think we're all perfect in our own degrees of normal.

George said...

I LOVE this post Kelly. Sure I am tearing up all over the place but you know what an abnormal crybaby I am.

So many people need to read this. Especially those without Diabetes.

Thanks for this.

meanderings said...

Thanks for telling us about your sister. And you're right, everyone's normal is different. Good reminder.

k2 said...

Shannon -
I wish lots of things had been different for Debbie. At lease we can learn from her mistakes.

Araby62 -
Thanks so much!
You have a great weekend as well.

Cara -
So do you.
Thanks Girlfriend!

Hannah -
Thanks for the compliments and the HUGS. Your right, no one's ever accused me of being "normal!"
I know u know what I'm talking about ! ;)

George -
I'm so glad that you loved the post, it means a lot to me.
I wasn't really sure how it would be received. Hopefully, diabetic or not- others will get the message.

Colleen -
Glad u liked it. Thanks for stopping by and letting me know.


Anonymous said...

I know what it's like wanting to be normal. I like Debbie engaged in risky behavior but have lived to tell about it. I too lost a sister but not to Diabetes and because we shared a history I will always remember her.

Normal is what others around us consider the norm. Diabetes has a psychological side that even the docs don't understand.


Molly said...

Nice post. It's good for all of us D's to remember what our normal is. Different, but not wrong.
I remember the days of urine testing and restricted diet. It sucked, but it makes me appreciate all that is available for me now.

Crystal said...

Kelly, this was an amazing post!! I found your blog awhile ago and in that time became fast friends with Ashley, whom I adore and was nice of enough to befriend her fellow RP (retarded pancreas) pre-existing chronic liability insulin addict.
I know you understand "that" normal. Ha ha.
Either way saw you posted on her latest post. I have been in touch with Ashley since she left on her westward bound trip.
We discussed the other night that we should do a comedic duo about diabetes, I remembered you and forgot to tell her/correct her that there is a GREAT comedienne out there already!

Either way and again, thank you for this post. It touched my heart. I just watched a PBS Show about The Canteen out in Nebraska and cried so I think I was out of tears but the emotion was there, So there.

After 23 years I still struggle with "normal" even though I have never liked, used or been called it. ;-)

Thanks for You Kelly.
And F Normal.

k2 said...

Betty -
I think all of us have engaged in risky behavior from time to time, I think every now and then is ok, dare I say,...normal?
Your absolutely right regarding he psychological side of D, most docs have yet to fully understand it.

Molly -
Thanks and I total get where your trying to say...we've come a long way baby!

Thamks for u2 CalPumper - and your partner in D crime, Ashley!
What a wonderful group of compliments, THANKS!
I'm so glad that this post resonated with you, it means so much to hear you say that.

How funny is it that in "real life," most of us would never aspire to be quote, "normal."
But, in our dlife, we long for normalcy and continually beat ourselves up over our preconceived notion of the term.
We insulin addicts speak the same language, and FYI - it's completely "normal" to tear up over PBS programing, I do it all the time ;)
They totally do it on purpose so we will donate more money.

F NORMAL and keep laughing!

Crystal said...

Hey Kelly,

My local PBS station does not "break for donations" anymore. Hmmmm.
Either way, I agree. Crying can make you "give." If I had money I just might but this abnormal addict is broke. (
when I found this site I Ran with it! I want just about every tee!! It is how Ashley and I started our choice phrase of "fellow RP" and the rantings that came with it.)

I think I long for consistency more than normalcy after all these years. I have been called everything but normal and I am ok with it. I think?

Thanks again.

Diane J Standiford said...

Anybody normal scares the H out of me! Normal is just a word. We should all strive to be uniquely OUR SELVES. Glad you vented!

Unknown said...

What you write is just great! :'''-))))) I think that everyone should be what one wants, without trying to appear normal to other people, maybe other people have different reason for not being "normal"..i've passed through a phase were I would hide even to test my glycaemia..Now I just don't care, i do what I want or have to do where I am. And the majority of people that knows me, knows about my diabetes.. they can think what they want, I mean,it's part of me. :-) Ale