Monday, August 24, 2009

No Sweet News

"It's 9.4 before breakfast." Elder Sis said over the phone.

The normal target level is within 6 to 8 as informed by the nurse from Woodlands Polyclinic nurse who called me last Thursday to check up on Mom.

"If it's less than 4, then she must take breakfast before 8:00AM."

Mom has been diagnosed as a diabetic on Wednesday at the polyclinic. She has been taking pills to reduce her blood sugar level but now she has to go with daily insulin shots as the level has been too high for several months already, regardless of her best to control her diet.

Being on a wheelchair for most part whenever she is out of the house, she gets very little exercise so the food the she eats is not fully utilized. Predisposed genes of the Malay race and coupled with lots of rich food in our cooking, old age hastens the onset of this disease.

My parents frequent patron of hawker food is also a contributing factor, so she has to drastically reduce buying cooked food from these places as much as possible.

Elder Sis has the experience of caring for a diabetic. She has been caring for her live-in mother-in-law who has both hers legs amputated at the ankles for the past 18 years.

Strict management on her diet and religious checks for bruises on the lower and outer extremities kept her well cared for by Elder Sis.

Elder Sis is quite distraught that she could not take care of her own mother. She really wanted too because she lives nearest to our parents, but can only come as often to check on her and check on her glucose level either in the morning or at night.

She is teaching Mom to alter her diet through cooking simpler dishes and substituting the ingredients to suit diabetics. Dad will have to follow Mom's diet as well... that means tiny amounts of salt and sugar if any. Both of our parents will have to adapt to such meals from now on.

Mom and Dad were taught once at the polyclinic and again by Elder Sis on how to give insulin shots. Both 2nd and 3rd Sis were there too and learned how to use the glucose monitoring and blood pressure monitors for the daily readings.

All the other siblings, including me will have to learn what Mom can and cannot eat and the portion per day of food that she can eat. We will need to learn operating the gadgets to take the readings. We will have to work out a way to take turns to check on and assist our parents.

For now Mom needs to have her Mixtard Insulin only at 10:00PM daily. We are buying lots of syringes and prepare about 10 of them per week with 8ml of insulin in each, ready for Mom's ease of use. This will prevent under or overdose since she or Dad has difficulty reading the tiny level markings on the bottle.

She will need to eat either 1 slice of bread or 3 pieces of crackers with milk after her insulin injection before she goes to bed.

Things can be a little easier if both of our parents are willing to cooperate. 3rd Sis offered to take them in to live with her at least for a week until they settled with the new routine, but both are adamant to stay in their own home and stay independent.

Dad being 83 and has a weak heart, suffers from lung cancer which he is not aware of but are under his Oncologist's and our close watch, will have difficulty to care for Mom.

Mom at the age of 76 on the other hand, now with diabetes, will need special diet as a lifestyle change. The constant readings that are needed to be taken and accurately too to avoid any complications is important and pose challenge for them to operate the gadgets by themselves.

Yet both of them refuse to let any of their children get bogged down with their conditions. They wish to manage it themselves and still remain independent. It is tough and barely doable considering their age.

This worries everyone immensely but we will have to make it work somehow...


  1. I have an aunt who is just as hard-headed as your parents; she's quite feeble and shakes violently with an inherited thing she has. She falls often, and last summer broke some bones in a fall. But she refuses to leave her big house. Her children have decided that if she dies in her house from a fall or some other incident, at least she died where she wanted to be.

    Your mom does not look her age; she's beautiful.

  2. You and your siblings have so much worry now, with the health of both parents so delicate. These are trying times for you as you protect your parents' well-being and do your best to honour their wishes for independence. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. mp

  3. Your mother is beautiful ... be patient with her and your father. It is not easy for them to feel they are losing their independence or allowing their children to become the "parents". I know this from my own experience with taking care of my father who had Parkinson's and mother who had diabetes, heart problems, lung cancer, and too many more to mention. We did our best to allow one another to live as each saw fit ... hard as that was to do. I don't regret it, except if I could do it all over again, I would have made life more enjoyable for them and less "doctor-related" so often. Do your best not to worry as that only adds to everyone's difficulties, OK?

  4. My dad was a diabetic on insulin...that came along in his fifties...
    It is a worry.
    A friend of mine has also just found out her mum has been diagnosed with diabetes.
    There are so many people with the condition that are as yet diagnosed, so your mum can be monitored as she has been.
    I hope she is soon stabilised and you can again breath a sigh of relief...
    Have a good week-end my friend. I am working all of it.

  5. I hope things get better for you soon. (and the rest of your family)

  6. Hello All,

    Thanks for stopping by and relating some of your experiences.

    Donna | I agree. That seems to be the best compromise since the person has the right to live how he/she wants to live especially when they are old. It is still their lives.

    Yes, she does look younger than her age. She has lots of black hair than grays at this age. I hope my hair will like hers as long as the male pattern baldness doesn't set in.

    Mompoet | Things are more challenging now. Thank you so much for your prayers. We are distributing the caring between ourselves and be with our parents as often as time permits.

    Kylita | Yes, I can now see that if seen from my parents' perspectives. We cannot force them so that we will feel safe.

    My siblings have broken down the chores and caring for them between us. Medical check-ups for Dad is mine while Elder Sis does for Mom.

    The rest takes care of groceries and cleaning the house as often as we can get on weekdays, taking turns to visit every weekend or take them outings too if they feel like going out.

    Ellen | That is what we are trying to establish... her routine self-administered insulin and the types of food she puts in her mouth so that the reading can somewhere near the target level.

    Both of my parents will have to have a lifestyle change to cope with this. We all are trying to help them adjust and stabilize.

    Andrew | It is tough and we want things to stabilize soon. I think we are getting there as my parents are cooperating to at least change their diet.

    Thank you again everyone. Have a good week ahead.


Hello Everyone,

Thank you for stopping by and leaving me your messages. I will also try to answer any questions you may have for me.

Thanks again and have a good day.

Muhd Imran
PAL Blogger