Introducing Dr. Helen Powell-Stoddart’s “Live Life By Choice”
In 1993, when she died due to complications of Diabetes, they were calling it “a little sugar”. But “a little sugar” is what I give my husband after we pray and head off to work. This was totally different.
She had episodes when her sugar was too low, causing hypoglycemic episodes of dizziness, almost fainting. She took multiple medications for her elevated blood pressure, and required medications for her elevated cholesterol. Of course her vision was affected and she started wearing glasses.
It really become serious when she developed excess fluid on her lungs preventing proper expansion and oxygenation of her lung fields. Her legs would swell because her heart worked at 10% capacity. In November of 1992, days before her birthday, she coded. Chest compressions, IV lines, oxygen masks, epinephrine and heart shocking, that kind of coding. But Praise The Lord, she came back.
The ride to Indiana from our home in Washington, D.C. was a long, silent one for my two sisters and me. I wrestled with the mixed feelings of desperately wanting to get there and fear of what I might find when I did. What would she look like? Would I make it before I lost her? Would I be able to snuggle with her through all the paraphernalia that was attached to her?
After several days of agony, she was finally transferred to a step-down unit on the cardiac floor. I sat in her room for hours with my medical books studying for an exam that I would have upon my return. She was restless. She couldn’t sleep. If I knew then what I know now, I would have known that she, too, was afraid. She was tired, but didn’t want to go to sleep. She was afraid that if she closed her eyes they would never open again.
She was released several days later and we later returned to DC. The last time we saw her alive she wore a turquoise sweatshirt and pink sweat pants. She had lost a lot of weight and her gum line was receding. She had started to age from the disease that was consuming her. We took many pictures of her with each one of us having a chance to kiss her, to hold her, to tickle her. We wanted her to feel how much love we had for her. We wanted her to always remember and never forget how much we lived her . We needed to remember. I had not yet graduated. I had not yet married. I had not yet borne a child. These are things a girl needs her mother for.
Back at school I spoke to one of my cardiology professors about her. I told him that she had hypertension, diabetes, high cholesterol and congestive heart failure. He looked at me and said “I am sorry, but your mother is going to die.” It has been more than 22 years since he said that and even now my eyes well up with tears.
Six months later, I nervously opened my envelope from The Board of Medical Examiners. I passed! I called my mom right away to tell her. I remember her words clearly, “I knew you would do well. I know that you can do whatever you make up your mind to do.” She was so excited and encouraging. Three days later she died.
Knowing how she suffered, then losing her was the first and most difficult time in my life. My concentration was very poor and I cried almost continuously. I had to see a counsellor. I remember telling my counsellor that she was paid to hear me cry. I did a lot of it.
You see, according to the data from the CDC in 1996, Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States. My mother was one of 2,268,553 deaths registered in the United States that year, due to the top 10 leading causes of death, most of which are diet exacerbated. According to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014, Diabetes was still the seventh leading cause of death in 2010.
Sure, there are better medicines these days for treatment. For instance, the average patient is on three for hypertension, one to control cholesterol, several for diabetes that may include insulin injections. Let’s not forget the aspirin each day, and one for an under-functioning thyroid. There are even treatments for complications of the disease. So sorry that sore won’t heal on your heel. We must amputate. Oh no, not far enough. Let’s take the leg below the knee. Oops, I mean above the knee. Oh my, so sorry, we we’ll need to take the other leg, because 50% of Diabetics loose a second limb. The artificial limbs are really nice these days. There are even robotic parts. Don’t worry. It’ll be fine. It’s just a little difficult because due to diabetic retinal (eye) disease, the blindness is devastating, but then again the wheelchair will be guided by someone else. They will be your eyes.
What I didn’t know then that I now know is that my mother (and father) died from diet exacerbated illnesses. I had no idea that food choices are so essential. There are several risk factors for diabetes, but one of the most important and modifiable risk factors is diet.
Several foods directly damage the insulin secreting beta cells of the pancreas leading to the high levels of glucose in the bloodstream. That, in turn, is responsible for the symptoms of diabetes including fatigue, thirst, overeating, unexplained weight loss and frequent urination.
Food is vital to optimum health yet we eat so many de-vitalized foods. Genesis 1:29 teaches us that fresh, live, green foods with seeds are best for our bodies. Our modern medical research is bringing us full circle, acknowledging bible truths written thousands of years ago. There are so many wonderful food choices and so many ways to prepare those choices. His choices are not just for life but for wellness. I think He would agree that “you don’t have to sacrifice taste for health. “