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Watching her kill herself

(60 Posts)
Anja Thu 25-Apr-19 07:40:38

A family member, coming up to 70, has been type 2 diabetic for over 20 years. She is obese, has never made any real attempt to control her diet and has now been injecting insulin for years. Even so blood glucose levels are extremely high and she has been hospitalised several times to try to stabilise them. She continues to eat and eat and has a very ‘sweet tooth’.

She was treated for diabetic retinopathy a few years ago but was in denial that this was anything to do with her diabetes.

When I saw her at Christmas she was unable to walk more than about 100 metres without getting so out of breath she couldn’t go on.

I saw her for the first time this Easter since Christmas. We only meet up at family get togethers and I was shocked. Her hand and feet and face were dreadfully swollen.

To me it seems as if she has no idea just how serious diabetes is. I know she’s been told by her GP and others on several occasions that she needs to get to grips with this condition but, in the end, no one can make you change your habits. Can they?

Her husband and daughter have given up saying ‘should you be eating that?’ as they just get a mouthful of abuse.

This is not the first time I have seen this. I lost a young friend at only 42 to complications from out of control type 1.

Reading through this it sounds rather judgemental which wasn’t my intention. Rather it is bewilderment that when this is clearly killing her she is in complete denial.

LullyDully Thu 25-Apr-19 07:48:03

It is so important she takes it upon herself. The doctor is the one to suggest different food. One older woman at Slimmers World had to use an electric chair just to cross a room. She lost a great deal and walks everywhere now. She never missed a group and takes the money. You would never know she had been so ill.
Overeating can be a psychological illness and very debilitating. Good luck.

BlueBelle Thu 25-Apr-19 07:48:12

There is nothing you can do unfortunately She will have been given all the information by doctors hospitals nurses and her direct family She has chosen to continue as she is, for her it is easier than changing the ways she is so entrenched in
Unfortunately her family have to watch her slowly kill herself through her lack of seeing that there is another route (or was) it s a shame but some things you can’t change even though you want to

mumofmadboys Thu 25-Apr-19 07:54:37

She must have been told many times how she can improve her health. She has chosen not to. I think all you can do is accept and love her as she is. Only when she decides ( and if) can she do anything about it. She is fortunate to have got to 70.

Squiffy Thu 25-Apr-19 08:45:29

One of my in-laws had the attitude that she’d rather live a shorter life enjoying her indulgences than live longer without them.

Missfoodlove Thu 25-Apr-19 09:00:39

I have a male friend also type 2 and injecting, he is adamant that as long as he injects he will be fine.
He eats and eats, his diet is high carb and high sugar and he enjoys wine in large quantities.
He will not change his ways.
My husband was diagnosed with type 2 last year. His readings were high and his symptoms caused him a lot of discomfort, we reversed his type 2 in 3 months. He is now a regular gym goer and his diet is low carb and low sugar.
His sweet tooth has disappeared and he looks and feels wonderful.
I think the difference is my husband did not want to medicate and wanted to find a way to stop the disease whereas my friend just sees the medication as a solution that allows him to continue his gluttony.

DanniRae Thu 25-Apr-19 09:08:48

I have someone in my life who has type 2 diabetes and doesn't seem to care about her condition. I was at her house once when she tested her blood sugar levels and the result was so high the blood testing machine had a message saying "Seek Medical Help!" - she just ignored it!
Mind you my brother-in-law had 3 cancer scares and refused to stop smoking. Sadly he eventually died of lung cancer. He had stopped smoking in front of people but was still doing it behind our backs. He had a lovely family, was funny and so well liked but he couldn't, apparently, stop doing what he must have known was going to kill him sad

Anja Thu 25-Apr-19 09:34:24

Therein lies a truth DanniRae

We accept alcohol and smoking as addictions, but baulk at adding food (especially carbs and sugars) to an addictive list. Of course it took years and so many dead before the giants in the tobacco industry could be felled. I think there is a powerful food lobby who need investigating and curtailing.

Humbertbear Thu 25-Apr-19 09:35:27

Unfortunately you can’t force an adult to change the way they live. Whether it’s drink, drugs, smoking or diet, it has to come from them. It can be heartbreaking to watch someone suffer through self neglect or abuse but nagging her will probably only make it worse.

Barmeyoldbat Thu 25-Apr-19 09:36:28

There is nothing you can do or suggest, all it will fall on deaf ears. My daughter, 47, is the same but a type 1. She smokes and eats all the wrong foods and will not listen to anything anyone has to say. She can barely walk because of the state of her feet and is also losing feeling in her fingers. Each winter I think it will be her last, but no she is still plodding on. All I do now is accept it is her life style choice, she knows the risks so I just carry on visiting and supporting her and try (its hard) not to get emotional. Good luck.

olliebeak Thu 25-Apr-19 09:37:35

As it sounds as though this lady can't be doing her own shopping, maybe the members of her family could agree NOT to bring inappropriate foods/sweets etc into the family home. If the bad food isn't immediately available, then she can't eat it!

Gonegirl Thu 25-Apr-19 09:49:10

It must be so hard, once you've got to the obese point, to start making tiny inroads. The task must seem well nigh impossible. Absolutely soul destroying. It's hard enough even when you've only got a few pounds to lose. In fact for me it seems impossible. God only knows what it must be like for someone with stones to lose.

Don't know the answer, but I do feel for her.

Don't know if you do Twitter, but you could probably find someone on there who has made the big weight loss very successfully. Might help to spur her one a bit.

Gonegirl Thu 25-Apr-19 09:49:57

olliebeak has a good suggestion there.

DanniRae Thu 25-Apr-19 09:55:44

I agree Gonegirl - I think olliebeak has made a very good point.

omega1 Thu 25-Apr-19 09:57:50

sugar is an addiction just like alcohol and smoking. Its very hard to stop as of course she has to eat. There's nothing anyone can do about it she will only change her eating habits if she wants to. There is an addiction group called Overeaters Anonymous which works the same spiritual programme as Alcoholics Anonymous which would help her if she would go to it.

rizlett Thu 25-Apr-19 10:01:29

Everyone has the right to make choices in their life that might not be the same as someone else in the same situation might do.

It's hard to see members of our family make negative health/life choices but we are only responsible for our choices. [and that of our children to some degree]

One of the things that medical professionals frustratingly have to learn is that all patients are entitled to make poor choices about their health too. The reasons for this are very wide and difficult to understand - all we can do is accept.

One of my in-laws had the attitude that she’d rather live a shorter life enjoying her indulgences than live longer without them.

Thing is poor health choices don't just lead to a shorter life but rather one accompanied with severe health issues often leaving people immobile with painful pressure sores, leg ulcers and a miserable rather than shorter existence.

The thought of death is easy - but ill health, pain, gangrene - these are hard.

cookiemonster66 Thu 25-Apr-19 10:01:42

My dad died the same way.. he was diagnosed type 2 diabetes, also sweet tooth, obese, refused to change lifestyle BUT it was his choice, grown man making his own choices about his body, he knew the consequences and decided to eat the things he loved rather than face a life without them. Paid the price in the end. It is the same for smokers etc, they know the damage it will do but smoke anyway. It is our body and we can abuse it anyway we see fit!

jaylucy Thu 25-Apr-19 10:02:27

I'd agree with olliebeak. If the family would do her shopping for her, take it to her, pack it away and then leave. Ignore her abuse and hopefully it will push her in the right direction.
Where I used to work, I often saw diabetics, type1 and type2 and it never failed to amaze me how different people dealt with it! Some seemed to virtually ignore it, carried on as before, while constantly complaining about everything in their life as if it was everyone else's fault, not theirs and others really stuck to the rules, accepted the condition and dealt with it. I know which ones were happier!

BrandyButter Thu 25-Apr-19 10:02:33

My mother is the same and it is difficult watching her destroy her own health and be in such constant pain whilst not helping herself. I have given up with the ignored verbal advice but constantly leave leaflets reminding her of her condition and what measures she could take behind me when I visit. She never mentions these at all which I find odd, so whether she throws them away or reads them I have no idea but I feel at least I am doing something to remind her.

ayse Thu 25-Apr-19 10:15:10

I’ve given up trying to get DH to change his ways although he has improved. He went to the gym and changed his diet, last a stone and then began to slip back. He always accused me of nagging him.
Life is too short to be continually grumbled at for trying to do the best for ones family. It has to be their decision to change and stick to it, giving help when asked.
So sad seeing someone decline and being powerless to help.

Squiffy Thu 25-Apr-19 10:16:36


Thing is poor health choices don't just lead to a shorter life but rather one accompanied with severe health issues often leaving people immobile with painful pressure sores, leg ulcers and a miserable rather than shorter existence.

The thought of death is easy - but ill health, pain, gangrene - these are hard.

I absolutely agree with you, but it didn't carry any weight with my in-law. Ironically, she died of something else. She was only 50 sad

maryhoffman37 Thu 25-Apr-19 10:18:23

My ex is slowly dying of COPD. It was caused by a 60-a-day smoking habit plus working on friends' houses without wearing a mask. But it hurts to see this ruin of a man, whose marriage is pretty well non-existent, reduced to living in one room with an electric fire. Many times over the decades I tried to persuade him to stop smoking as he had a wife and two children but to no avail. The OP is right: people have to want to look after themselves.

breeze Thu 25-Apr-19 10:29:20

Other people shopping for her won't work. She can set up an online shop, have it delivered and put in her fridge if necessary.

My BFs mother was an alcoholic. She lived a remarkably long time considering. The family refused at first to deliver alcohol to her to try to stop her so she rang cabs, got them to buy her alcohol, deliver it and gave them a handsome tip. So the family started to buy it again as she was spending so much money getting what she wanted.

I don't think nanny state tactics of pressure on government to attempt to stop people is the answer. You can only educate, medically advise then respect the right of the individual to do with their bodies what they choose to do.

Sadly Anja with all the information she has and health problems she knows will get worse, it still looks as though she will self destruct due to her food addiction. So sad to watch.

Anja Thu 25-Apr-19 10:34:14

She goes shopping with her husband and does her own cooking and baking. Not being able to walk 100 yards without getting out of breath and having to stop is not the same as wandering slowly around a small supermarket using a trolley as a walking aid and at a sedate pace.

I’ve watched her preparing a meal in the past. She potters around. It takes her ages, even though her kitchen is tiny and she sits on a stool to prepare food. But she does snack on cakes (often some she’s made herself) and biscuits constantly. Her husband makes breakfast and lunch, usually lots of toast and sandwiches. If he tried to curb her appetite she would throw a tantrum and he backs down.

It’s not like you see these grossly obese people confined to bed and having others feed them. She probably weighs at least 15 stone and measures 5’ 3”.

Some people can get away with bad diet and it never seems to catch up with them. But she watched her father die in his 60s from complications of diabetes, so I expect her genes are stacked against her.

ReadyMeals Thu 25-Apr-19 10:36:58

Maybe she's one of those people who think they'd rather have 5 years of enjoying eating and drinking whatever they fancy than 10 years of dietary rules that make them miserable. I am sure this person has been told all the facts she needs to make up her own mind, and I'd say don't spoil her remaining few years/months of overeating and overdrinking by nagging her about it.