INTRODUCING: The Diabetic Partner Follies

Periodically, I am reminded that we do not live with this disease alone. Our Loved Ones live with it, too, day in and day out. To be honest, I don’t often stop and think about what it might be like for them.

My exceptional partner has been urging me for some time to reach out to all the people out there living with diabetics — to give them a voice, and a forum for sharing the feelings and experiences that accompany living with us PWDs (person with diabetes). He seems to believe that the large community of “significant others” might be able to learn from one another and share what he calls “best practices” in dealing with the challenges and frustrations, etc., of living with a PWD.

So we welcome you here today for the first time to the DiabetesMine.com “Diabetic Partner Follies” — an occassional series from the people who love the PWDs. Note that we use the term “follies” in the revue sense of the word, i.e. an elaborate, multi-faceted dance production — my metaphor for life with this sometimes outrageous disease.

My man volunteered to kick the thing off with the first contribution (gulp), below. Do have a look. Then we’d like to invite other partners of diabetics to join in “the follies” and tell us what goes on in your (D)world.

If you’d like to submit something — no need for a lengthy post, even the teeniest anecdote will do — please email me here. And now, without further ado, a word from my (most cherished) sponsor:

* * *
Ever since surviving
a near-fatal car accident over 20 years ago, not a single day passes where I’m not
consciously grateful for living a healthy life. I know my good health won’t
last forever, but as long as it does, I appreciate a life without pain, pills
and impairments.

When Amy first
started losing post-pregnancy weight at a rapid pace, I thought it was cool and
congratulated her. Then I went on a business trip and didn’t see her for a few
days. When I came back, she had dropped a lot of weight, and I started to worry.

That day we learned
that for Amy, the days where she didn’t have to deal with a disease were
forever gone.

Fast-forward three
years and a month, and you’ll notice many changes in our home. When our
9-year-old daughter and I cook a family dinner on the weekend, she makes sure I
don’t inadvertently use wheat flour, but instead a gluten-free replacement. The
girls know what it means when mom has to take a break from playing to eat candy
or drink fruit juice. We’ve long stopped even noticing when Amy injects for a
meal. Our three-year-old talks about “diaveetes” and “Dora the Explorer” in the
same sentence, and occasionally the seven-year-old says, “I wish mom didn’t
have diabetes.” I nod and smile at her.

At the same time,
we’ve never been happier as a family, and Amy’s life with diabetes has actually
also had a positive impact on us. It has brought us closer together as a
family, and it certainly has motivated us to live a healthy life. Our kids can
tell a good diet from a bad one, and we all understand the value of regular
exercise.

Getting used to
living with a diabetic partner at first wasn’t easy. For instance, I couldn’t
understand that “I’m really hungry” was supposedly a valid excuse for snapping
at me right before lunch. And what do you mean, you can’t wait until 8:30 PM
for the first course of a long meal with friends? Just have a snack.

Over time we
figured this out together, and Amy has been very patient with me. In general, for
us as a family, getting used to diabetes has not been difficult, but I know it
hasn’t been easy for her. I try to be as supportive as possible, which isn’t
always easy, given the daily challenges that come with a busy job and raising a
family.

What has really
helped me was educating myself about diabetes. Amy and I attended an
educational session at UC San Francisco, and I started reading and discussing
the disease with my father and brother, both doctors, and my biologist sister –
and of course with Amy. Learning about diabetes helped on several fronts.
First, I was no longer so ignorant and could more easily understand Amy’s
actions, reactions and worries. But just as importantly, it prevented me from
hating the disease. The more I learned about the body’s insulin and blood sugar
interplay, the more intrigued I got with the whole topic and with ways to use
diet and exercise to achieve healthy blood sugar levels. This knowledge enables
all of us to live a healthier life.

— B.T.

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7 Responses

  1. Kelsey
    Kelsey July 6, 2006 at 8:48 am | | Reply

    Great idea Amy! I just emailed my husband a link to your blog… I think he’ll enjoy your husband’s insights. It’s great to have the love and support of those around us when battling this disease. It truly makes a difference.

  2. Jo
    Jo July 6, 2006 at 10:32 am | | Reply

    Thank you for the “other side’s” perspective.

  3. ksc
    ksc July 8, 2006 at 3:48 pm | | Reply

    What a great entry. My husband has been hoping to meet more people married to diabetics, and the Ackerman Institute in NYC has been talking about organizing a workshop for couples. It could be really productive for both members of the partnership.

  4. AnnaQ
    AnnaQ July 11, 2006 at 10:55 am | | Reply

    B,
    Wonderful post! What a gentle way to capture your challenges and the effects (benefits!) on your family. If only my husband would use his own diabetes as a catalist for healthy eating. Sigh… I hope you’ll be contributing more of your insights in the future.

  5. Kate
    Kate July 17, 2006 at 8:50 pm | | Reply

    Amy,
    I’ve directed my boyfriend to the other “significant other” post you had. He’s been a great supporter for me and I wanted him to know that I realized that I wasn’t the only one that might have worries about my diabetes. I think it’s a great idea to give significant others a voice.
    Keep up the good work on this great site!

  6. Bryce
    Bryce October 14, 2006 at 4:48 pm | | Reply

    What’s wrong with hating the disease? Despising a disease that hinders your life–or, in this case, your wife’s–is normal and to be expected. It doesn’t in any way, shape, or form, interfere with how you take care of yourself. (In fact, it should encourage you to take even better care of yourself, knowing you’re hindering the devil, who’s sole purpose in giving you the disease was to bring misery to your life before finally killing you. As one who’s lived with this disease for 35 years, I know that to be a fact.

  7. Victoria
    Victoria June 15, 2007 at 1:03 pm | | Reply

    I love your closing comment…

    ***
    The more I learned about the body’s insulin and blood sugar interplay, the more intrigued I got with the whole topic and with ways to use diet and exercise to achieve healthy blood sugar levels. This knowledge enables all of us to live a healthier life.
    ***

    …and after ten years of living with a type 1 diabetic who does all the “right” things, the prayers of wisdom, understanding and acceptance become more valuable.

    He works out everyday, eats like a monk, tests reguarly, wants to manage any events on his own, and by all those standards is the poster child for perfect management. His A1C is always between 5 and 6.

    We both love to analyze things, worked as programmers professionally. He’s retired now (45) and I’m now in health care (39) with access to all kinds of fascinating studies and some leading edge understanding of the endocrine system.

    My husband takes all of what I bring to him and runs with it really well.

    Unfortunately, there are still a lot of unknown factors, and the events which characterize diabetes still occur…in fact, increasingly so over the years.

    This is why I finally broke down and decided to look again for this kind of resource.

    Thank you so much, for this forum where we can let the hair down and little and just be human again.

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