Gertrude 'Blondie' Fram, Age 93: Living With Type 2 Diabetes For More Than Forty Years

From the book "50 Secrets of the Longest Living People With Diabetes"© 2007, by Sheri R. Colberg and Steven V. Edelman. Published in November 2007. Appears by permission of the publisher, Perseus Books, an imprint of Da Capo Press. Contact Dr. Colberg at and Dr. Edelman at

Gertrude "Blondie" Fram in 1997

| Feb 10, 2008

Blondie Fram has been living well with type 2 diabetes for at least four decades, and probably many more before she was diagnosed. She attributes her long life with diabetes first and foremost to solid family ties. "I have had wonderful support from my children and their spouses," she says.

Her success also comes in large part from the great medical support that she has received from her son-in-law, Dr. Aaron I. Vinik. Dr. Vinik is a world-renowned diabetologist and neuropathy specialist at the Strelitz Diabetes Institutes in Norfolk, Virginia. "My son-in-law has looked after me carefully," she says. "I know I could phone him in the middle of the night with any problem, but I try not to take advantage." After she had controlled her diabetes for many years with diet and exercise alone, Dr. Vinik was instrumental in getting her on insulin, which she now takes four times a day.

Ever since she was widowed in her late fifties, Blondie has lived with one of her children and his or her family. When the entire clan emigrated from South Africa to the United States, they brought her along with them. She currently spends six months of every year with one daughter's family in Nashville, Tennessee, and the remainder of the year with her other daughter in Norfolk. She has enjoyed being in the heart of her family all that time, especially because she has been able to help raise her grandchildren. "I think I've been really lucky to be surrounded by younger people all these years," she says.

Blondie has always been a very active person, and even now she refuses to let life slow her down too much. She was a musician in her younger years, and she still tries to get out to concerts. In South Africa, she played golf and tennis for years (even though ignorant practitioners there told her that that exercise isn't good for people with diabetes). Until a fall that resulted in a bad fracture, she walked in a local mall two to three miles a day. She still tries to walk as much as possible because she knows how important being active is to living well - with or without diabetes.

Blondie's active lifestyle extends to mental exercise as well. Always a reader, she belongs to a book club to this day. She never goes to bed without doing a crossword puzzle, and she also enjoys the Sudoku number puzzles. "You have to try to keep your mind going," she says. It's apparent that this strategy has worked remarkably well for her.

Finally, Blondie attributes her success in living well with diabetes to her positive outlook. "I always have something to look forward to. Right now I'm looking forward to seeing what colleges my great-grandkids get into!" She doesn't let her health problems bother her (she has been treated twice for breast cancer), and she is extremely careful about what she eats (a balanced diet with no added sugar and small quantities of food). "I have just learned to live with what I have to live with," she remarks. The fact that she can't move around as fast anymore bothers her, but at 93 years old, she is still moving pretty fast.

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Categories: Diabetes, Diabetes, Food, Insulin, Living with Diabetes, Personal Stories, Type 2 Issues

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Feb 10, 2008

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