How Diabetes Is A Family Affair

When Oscar-winning actress Mira Sorvino learned her father had type 2 diabetes, she took quick action. In this Lifescript exclusive, find out how she helped improve her dad’s health and lowered her children’s risk of the chronic disease...

Acting is a family business for Paul and daughter Mira Sorvino. So when Paul, now 76, a veteran character actor who plays tough guys, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, it was only natural for Mira, 48, to make this a family affair too.

The role of caretaker came easily to Mira, who won an Academy Award for best supporting actress in “Mighty Aphrodite.”

“After my dad was diagnosed, I realized I had to educate myself about his condition,” says Sorvino, who also charmed moviegoers in “Romy and Michele’s High School Reunion.” “I wanted to be equipped with the right tools to help keep him on track with his treatment.”

That’s not easy with a dad who enjoys hearty Italian meals and produces pasta sauces for supermarkets.

Like many diabetics, Paul initially controlled blood-sugar levels by lowering carbohydrate and sugar intake, exercising, losing weight and taking prescription medicine.

At first, the day-to-day maintenance overwhelmed him, and he kept his diagnosis a secret. He didn’t want to “burden” Mira and her siblings, the actress says. Plus, the former “Law & Order” cop was used to playing it tough.

That’s why the father-daughter duo launched the “Diabetes Co-Stars” awareness program, which aims to encourage relatives and friends to support those with the disease. It afflicts nearly 24 million Americans, including 11.5 million women.

In this Lifescript exclusive, Mira Sorvino reveals what she’s doing to keep her pasta-loving father healthy and cut the odds that she – or her three kids – will develop diabetes.

What were your father’s symptoms before his diagnosis?
He was very tired, thirsty and had a general malaise. No one knew these were symptoms [of diabetes] though. He ignored them for quite a while.

How did your father find out?
He saw his doctor for something unrelated and the physician took a blood test that showed his blood sugar was in the 420s. [Normally, this level should be between 70-150.]

What did he do after finding out?
He actually kept the diagnosis secret for a few months. He was in denial. He didn’t completely follow his doctor’s advice, but didn’t completely ignore it either.

How did you discover he was diabetic?
It was quite frightening. I was at my father’s house recuperating from having a new baby and trying to avoid the flu that the rest of my family had. [Mira is married to actor Christopher Backus, and they have four children: Mattea, 11; Johnny, 9; Holden, 6 and Lucia, 3.

 

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