The Diabetic Partner Follies, Act 4: Full Frontal Sharing

Pull up a chair, folks, for Act 4 of The Diabetic Partner Follies: the unique forum for partners of diabetics to share what it’s like living with us PWDs (people with diabetes).

Let me first take a moment to remind you that submissions are welcome, no matter what you want to say. Snippets are just as good as long posts, mind you. How about the “partner quote of the day”? Got something to add here? Email me.

And now, on with the show. Today, Amy H. shares a heartfelt account of what it’s like not being the one with the diabetes, but taking it on nonetheless:

I didn’t know my E. before her diabetes arrived. She got the news as a kid, age 9.

Several years ago, on our second or third date — when most people are still pretending with oneAsecrettour1_1 another — E.’s insulin pump was running low (which, at the time, I didn’t know, I didn’t really know anything). We were at my little summer rental on Cape Cod. She looked at me with something that seemed like resignation and blurted “You might as well know about all of this now.” She refilled the pump, changed her infusion site, and gave me the guided tour.

I have a great relationship with E., and an odd one with her diabetes. I hate it for adding burdens and vulnerabilities to her life. And I appreciate it for helping form the character of the person I love. We’ll never know who that 9-year-old would have grown up to be without it, so there’s a part of me that takes it all in as a package deal and says “thanks.”

E. accepts life as it comes. She knows the difference between big problems and little ones. Doesn’t have a fraction of the rational and irrational fears I have. And thinks most of the things people complain and fret about are a stupid waste of energy that could be redirected to, say, playing with the cats. While I know I’ve been a good influence on her life and her health, I believe she’s been an even better one on mine.

We go to most of her Joslin appointments together. I try to put them in my calendar when she does. In the summer, I have a fashion bias toward age-inappropriate cargo shorts so I can carry her supplies for her. It’s a small, sort of dopey thing. But it’s nice to see her without the bag, even the cute orange one. I have an uncanny awareness of her highs and lows, sometimes before she does, mostly because she’s among the most lighthearted, even-tempered souls I know. The aberrations stick out.

I’m not yet a good, consistent partner in healthy eating and daily exercise. There are too many times when I try to explain gym-avoidance and Twix to myself, silently, this way: “I’m not the one with diabetes.” But I am. Because I’m the one with her. I’m also 43 with a family history of heart disease and Type 2 diabetes, and any doctor would tell me that what’s good for her is good for me. That last sentence there? That’s me, working on it.

I’ve been at this for four years, which still seems a little green. I’m not sure what my “best practices” are.

Sometimes, E.’s diabetes is a set of facts and habits that belong to us both. Sometimes, it needs to be all hers, and I’m sitting way, way up in the cheap seats. And sometimes I’m her world’s most important person when I get up and pour the juice or ask the doctor that follow-up question.

If I don’t guess right, she usually tells me.

– A.H.


One Response

  1. Loral E.
    Loral E. July 6, 2010 at 4:48 pm | | Reply

    I have lived with diabetes, as has my husband, since he is the one who actually has the disease, for 15 years. My problem is trying to deal with all of the hypoglycemic episodes. I have had to call paramedics many times because he can be so uncooperative it’s impossible for me to get him to ingest any sugar/glucose, etc. I have a syringe all set up and ready to go, but the only time it was used was when I held him down and my daughter injected him. We now live by ourselves, so without any help I don’t even consider using the syringe. He has beaten himself black and blue until he bled while convulsing. He nearly fell down the stair well convulsing while he walked to the bathroom. There’s nothing that I can do. He’s much larger then I am, and he is completely belligerent when he’s low. I try to get him to sit down so he doesn’t injure himself, but he does whatever he wants. He has spit juice out, thrown candies across the room, and drooled honey out of his mouth, all while thrashing uncontrollably. The only thing that seems to work, sometimes, is to begin to call 911 for help or leave the house. The last time he got low, he refused to eat any of the candies (the easy to dissolve type) or drink any juice. I forced the juice to his mouth, and he spit it out. So I got in the car to drive to a friend’s house for help, and by the time I had turned the car around, he was standing in the doorway yelling that he would drink the juice. Should I let him convulse until he passes out or goes into a coma, and then treat his low blood sugar? I know that every time he goes low, it is causing brain damage. He has had three hypoglycemic episodes in the last 4 weeks.

    What should I do?

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