In the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that as many as half of all Americans who are alive today will end their lives in nursing homes, although it won’t be because their bodies cease to function, but because of their brains.
My mother is a diabetic--something that shouldn't be someone's identifier, but unfortunately it has defined her life. This is my apology to her and to everyone struggling with un-understanding families. This is my account of what it is like from the outside looking in, knowing it is my potential future, and coming to terms with how I wasn't there for my mother.
It's a nightmare scenario for a person who's been newly diagnosed with diabetes: You're fired after learning you have this chronic-yet-manageable disease. Everything the doctors told you about living a nearly normal life seems like a lie. Your visions and hopes for the future-already clouded with this scary medical news-darken.
Life never stops. It's a truism that people with diabetes of all types know too well. Your responsibilities change. Your duties at your job shift. The people around you change. And you have to make the best you can of it all, racing to keep up and adjusting your treatment plan as best you can. It's exhausting.
On September 26, 1992, my daughter Kaitlyn was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Since that time, we have immersed ourselves in the world of diabetes with two goals: First, to ensure that Kaitlyn has the very best tools, both medical and emotional, to manage her diabetes, and second, to dedicate our unyielding efforts in pursuit of a cure. For us, it's not either/or: It's both.
Forty-three year old stage and TV actor Stephen Wallem is a jack of all trades when it comes to entertainment. Best known for his one-man musical review, "Off the Wallem," he is also a playwright, composer, and director. Currently, he plays Thor, a gay nurse with type 1 diabetes, on the Showtime series "Nurse Jackie."
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