This is a six-part series, published in 2003. Since its online debut, this article has appeared on thousands of health websites around the world. It's posted in Africa, the United Kingdom, Sweden, Canada, Europe, Asia, and has been translated into various languages.
To ensure that my mother's life was not in vain; I posted this story on her life and what she endured as a result of diabetes in order to help others. Last week, you read Part One. Those of you who have followed this column will be able to witness the devastation, and you will learn how to avoid the horrors of this disease. My mother suffered for 12 years with diabetes along with all the complications that result from the disease. Here is the continuation of her story:
This campaign kicked off after the loss of my mother who succumbed to Type 2 diabetes on December 25, 2000. Last week, I shared how mother lost both of her legs, had to have kidney dialysis for the last few years of her life; and she had at least seven strokes. She was my age, 61 when she had a major stroke that caused paralysis. She ended up in Howard University Hospital, and it was during that time that her diabetes was discovered; now for the continuation of her story.
Throughout our lives, my sisters and I have been blessed – we are successful business women – doing exactly what mother encouraged us to do. We have enjoyed a lot of success in publicizing several major events such as: We coordinated a major festival which attracted more than 200,000 people, major corporate sponsors and celebrities. We worked for two Presidential Inaugural Committees, both Republican and Democratic; we worked for two D.C. mayors and three D.C. Council members; and I was appointed project director for the Spirit of Freedom Memorial, a new national African American Civil War Memorial located in Washington, D.C.
After learning how to publicize an issue on a massive scale for all of these politicians, there was no way I could see the devastation caused in the life of my mother by diabetes, fully understand this disease, and do nothing about it.
Initially, I didn't understand, and I wanted to know what happened to my mother, how did this happen to her and what could we have done differently? If only we had known how an improved diet without sugar and reduced carbohydrates, along with regular physical exercise could have made a difference in her life. Now that I've learned from her doctor, I must share this with you!
What exactly is diabetes? Diabetes mellitus is a group of diseases characterized by high levels of blood glucose. It results from defects in insulin secretion, insulin action, or both.
For those of you who refuse to follow the rules, diabetes can be associated with serious complications and premature death, as in the case of my mom.
On the other hand, people with diabetes can take measures to reduce the likelihood of serious complications, according to recent studies by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). According to the NIH study, some researchers believe that African Americans, (Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders were also included in the study) inherited a "thrifty gene" from their African ancestors.
The study cited how years ago, this gene enabled Africans, during "feast and famine" cycles, to use food energy more efficiently when food was scarce. Today, we eat in a similar manner, without strenuous exercise, which now causes Type 2 diabetes.
The problem dates back to the beginning of the slave trade, beginning in 1790. For enslaved individuals, food was still scarce, thus the "thrifty genes" protected them as they ingested food and sweated out the toxins from fat eaten daily. (More next week).