Who’s Body Is It?

I recently posted a fact about amputations in relation to diabetes (see here). Already when I heard that number for the first time I thought of a young women I once interviewed and wrote a story about for a local newspaper.

Your comments made me think about here and what she told me then even more.

She was probably mid 30ies when I interviewed her. Diabetes had already had a huge impact on her. It caused the loss of her sight, her body was swollen and she had already amputated toes which lead to her using a walking aid when out and about.

She loved to take her dog on walks and was always in a cheerful mood. It was why I wanted to write the story in the first place. I’ve seen so many people, healthy, successful with a great family, who weren’t that happy at all. And there she was. Sick, blind, losing her limbs but happy. It simply caught my attention and I wanted to hear from her why she enjoyed her life so much although facing so many “obstacles”.

Diabetes was not as well known and not as easy treatable when she got diagnosed with it. It was all slightly more complicated from what I was told. Maybe that was the reason why she got blind and lost her toes. Maybe it was the reason why she didn’t immediately start a healthier lifestyle. I guess the information must have been different then. Who knows…

For some reason she decided to take the medicine but not change anything about her nutrition. When I interviewed her she was about to go in for surgery to get a foot amputated.

I’ve asked her about changing nutrition and lifestyle (she was also a smoker) and the answer she gave me is still something I ponder about from time to time.

She mentioned that she felt challenged by diabetes but that she would not allow it to take away the things she enjoyed in life. She said that although it made her blind it also made her “see” the world in a different and maybe even more intense way. She said that she was not willing to give up on what she loved. Even if that would eventually cause her death.

Thought provoking.

I wonder. I wonder my reaction would be. What the right reaction would be. Is there a right reaction at all? In the end everyone has to decide for themselves what is more important to them.

Obviously in her case being able to eat and drink what she loved and continuing to smoke was worth risking limbs and life. She was single, had no family left. It was just herself. I kind of see her point in making the decision to do what she pleases to and then pass away when it’s time to. Even if that meant losing more limbs on the way.

Would I do the same?


She obviously didn’t rank the ability to move and see that high. Walking her dog was nice but only as long as she did not have to stop with everything else. For me it would be totally different. I’d rather give up on certain foods and drinks. I don’t smoke. I would prefer to be able to move freely and to see the beauty of this world still.

Each to their own. For her it was right and when I last saw her before she passed away she was still cheerful. She was enjoying her life, at least to the outside. She had given up on her sight, on some toes and on one foot. Life was in that sense good to her that it did take her life before it made her unable to move by herself. But maybe she would have not minded that either.

Our body is precious. But our body is ours and if our decisions re our body make sense to others or not, it’s our decision. We have to face the consequences in the end and as long as we don’t drag family into it or friends we are free to do whatever we want to do. I guess it’s the lesson I’ve learned from this case. I did not agree with her. But who am I to tell her that I think it’s not right what she is doing. My life was totally different and is to the day. Maybe I would have done the same if I would have been in her shoes.

21 thoughts on “Who’s Body Is It?

  1. It’s a really thought-provoking subject. I don’t know what I would do if it were me, to be honest. If I were alone, I’d probably decide differently than if I had a family. It’s very complicated and very personal. I can see both sides. Live the rest of your life as you want it, or make sacrifices and maybe live a bit longer or better. Tough choice.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Hm…there is something to what she says to at least make me pause. We only have this one life, so do we spend it enjoying it the way we want or making “healthy sacrifices” to extend it? Not as black in white as most think…

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Watching my mother die of cancer changed the way I looked at life. I vowed that if I were to get a similar diagnosis, I would not accept the kind of brutal treatment that she endured for 2 years. Invasive experimental treatments, chemo, radiation, all to prolong the inevitable. Stage 4 bladder cancer, which had a prognosis of mere months, left her and the family drained; physically and emotionally for years. I think I might understand the sentiment of your diabetic lady.

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  4. For this lady not being able to live her life the way she wanted would have been the sacrifice. She didn’t choose to change who she was because she was happy and comfortable in her skin. This is the point isn’t it? Everyones journey is different. It doesn’t make theirs right, or ours either. What is right for each individual is what is right. Yes we can look and say, If only they made this change or that change they would be so much healthier or happier. But would they? The only thing we can do is love and support people in their choices. Even if it is a choice we don’t agree with.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. This is pretty close to my heart, I have chosen to give up smoking and take on a healthier lifestyle. However, this is what I feel is right for me, I have a daughter and a large family, and I have seen the results of poorly controlled diabetes first hand with my patients. Your lady wanted to live her life the way she wanted to, eating and drinking what she wanted and carrying on with smoking. I would like to think that she had no regrets and was happy at the end. πŸ™‚

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Thanks for yet another insightful post. I suppose that we all have family members or friends who suffer ill health due to life style choices. In the past two years I have lost three people, all of whom fell within that category. It comes down to stewardship. Unless we are responsible for that person’s well being such as with a minor child or a severely disabled person in our care, the stewardship belongs to that individual and while we care about them we are pretty much in the position of the person who has a sick goldfish, empathetic but powerless to change the situation.

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  7. “But our body is ours and if our decisions re our body make sense to others or not, it’s our decision. We have to face the consequences in the end and as long as we don’t drag family into it or friends we are free to do whatever we want to do.” This was my dad’s situation when he was diagnosed with diabetes in the latter part of his life. Complications from this disease, I believe, are essentially what led to his death 10 years ago at 75.

    My mom was always on him about his diet after his diagnosis. In one of the few instances where I actually agreed with my sister’s viewpoint, she felt that he had lived a long life and had reached the point where he could eat whatever he pleased, knowing full well what the consequences could be.

    One a side note, I am intrigued by the fact that some people who live extraordinarily “healthy” lives/lifestyles (no smoking, balanced diet and exercise, no “sinful” overindulges) can still contract these diseases, like lung cancer or diabetes, that are usually considered to be lifestyle related. Of course, conversely, there are overweight sedentary smokers who never get sick! I’ll actually be learning about some of the “blue zones” of the world where it’s not unusual to live very long lives, like into their hundreds. I’m looking forward to learning some of their lifestyle “secrets.” I’ve heard they include some regular enjoyment of alcoholic beverages. 🍷 🍸 🍹

    Liked by 1 person

    • I would love to learn more about that! My dad is 93 and he was in a great shape until he got dementia about a year ago. He is still physically better off than a lot of 70 year olds. He always drank wine. Sometimes whiskey too. If you look at what is suggested today he was always over the so called limit, drank more than what was considered healthy, yet never had alcohol related issues. He drank good wine and good whiskey. Ate what was then considered a healthy balanced diet and exercised every day. He spent heaps of time outside. Maybe he was lucky. Maybe he did the right thing.


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