Family and Diabetes Complications


We know nobody likes to talk or read about complications, however, managing your diabetes will help you prevent or delay their onset. The impact of diabetes complications goes beyond our general health. Complications have an effect on our emotional health as well as our family’s emotional health.

Have you ever asked yourself, how does my family feel or think about my diabetes and the complications that I may have?

We would like to share Noelia’s experience, whose older sister lived with diabetes and died of a complication related to it. We hope this starts a dialogue about the complications of diabetes in order to learn how to identify them early so that they do not have a negative effect on us, and on our family.

Noelia, tell us about how you identified that she was having a diabetes-related complication?

She began to have breathing problems, had high blood pressure and her legs began to swell.

What did you think as a family member when she received the diagnosis— was it expected?

No, we did not expect it. I was very sad since I had heard that those who had kidney failure and had dialysis did not last long. I knew next to nothing or nothing about kidney failure.

What kind of support did you give her as a family?

First, we gave her a lot of encouragement by telling her that she would get better with dialysis and that she could have a good quality of life. In the same way, we bought her everything she needed to treat her at home. I always stood by her at all times, in addition to having a lot of support from the family.

What did you do after the diagnosis of the complication?

We went to another doctor who confirmed the diagnosis. We asked about a kidney transplant, but we were told that because of her age it was not possible. Later we were told that due to respiratory and heart problems, it was not possible to perform this transplant procedure.

We bought everything we needed to treat her at home. We made adjustments to her diet, although she resisted, she underwent surgery to start her dialysis.

It was complicated because she needed dialysis nine times a day and she had blood pressure problems. She would get low blood pressure and her blood glucose levels varied a lot.

How did you feel about the diagnosis and all that it involved?

Very distressed. I wanted to be in her place and not see her like that, diminished in her daily activities. I felt so helpless that I could not do more for her.

What was life like a family after the complications?

We had to change our habits. She was hospitalized several times in the first year she was diagnosed with a complication. She was no longer able to go out as much as she liked because she needed to be home for dialysis and she felt sick from her blood pressure or she would have trouble breathing.

Could you share a few words to motivate those living with diabetes?

It is important to love life and your family. You can indulge yourself if your blood glucose [levels] are well managed, as long as you check it and above all, know how your body reacts at certain times.

That it is worth putting up with all that to be able to live longer.

The importance of family

Family is a very important pillar when we live with diabetes. They help us, support us and they are there for us if we need anything. However, perhaps we have not really stopped to think or ask them how they feel with the arrival of diabetes or any complication, what they need to stay strong and share that strength with us. 

Let’s work on our diabetes as a team, considering others apart from ourselves and thank them for the support and understanding they give us to keep going.

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WRITTEN BY Eugenia Araiza, CDE Nutritionist, POSTED 01/09/23, UPDATED 01/09/23

Eugenia has a degree in nutrition specialized in diabetes and is a diabetes educator. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 25 years ago, she is the creator of Healthy Diabetes. She really enjoys studying and helping others in managing their different types of diabetes. She loves studying, managing type 1 diabetes and nutrition. She especially enjoys writing about the impact diabetes has on her life. She lives surrounded by love in a family made up of Luis Felipe, who lives with latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA) diabetes and her teenage son Indigo.