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.
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.