Caring for a Spouse with Diabetes
My wife Kelsey and I were friends for several months before we started dating. Kelsey has always been very open about her diabetes, so I learned about her disease early in our friendship. Initially, she had to explain to me the difference between type 1 and type 2. I didn't know there were different types of diabetes! My brother had recently been diagnosed with type 2 and did a minimal amount of work to manage it. I didn't realize how much more care and attention this disease requires until I got to know Kelsey and saw her daily management routine in action.
When I think about my wife's disease today, I'm struck by how ingrained it is in my life. It's hard for me to believe that there are people who are not familiar with type 1 diabetes. For me, it's just a normal part of life. I don't know what it's like to have a wife who doesn't have diabetes. Funny, that something so foreign to me just six years ago, will now forever be a part of my life experience.
I'd say the most challenging part of having a partner with diabetes is also one of the positive aspects: healthy eating. Sometimes I just really want pizza or regular pasta or sugary breakfast cereals. Kelsey will just look at me disapprovingly and say, "That's not very healthy." I know she's right, so I pick out a high fiber cereal instead and contently eat the spaghetti with whole wheat pasta. Other than our family food choices, I am minimally inconvenienced by Kelsey's diabetes. She'll have the occasional low blood sugar when we're out, but she is nearly always prepared to treat it efficiently. When the rare circumstance arises when she's not prepared, we quickly find something for her to eat. Typically that means that I'll get a treat too!
During our pregnancy, Kelsey's diabetes was a major focus in our lives. Keeping her blood sugar in a normal range was so important for both her and Sienna's health. I learned a lot about diabetes during those nine months. By attending her many doctor's appointments, I witnessed how diligently she controlled her blood sugars and her diet.
From what I understand, I am lucky that Kelsey does not have severe low blood sugar reactions. I've heard that some people become belligerent and require medical assistance to treat very low blood sugars. Other than grabbing a glass of O.J. or purchasing a granola bar for her to correct with, I haven't had to actually administer glucose to Kelsey. During the pregnancy, we filled a prescription for a glycogen injection. I was taught how to use it, but it remains unopened in our bathroom cabinet. I'm sure I would be able to inject her if I had to, but hopefully that day never comes.
As long as I've known Kelsey, she's had type 1 diabetes. It's a package deal. Diabetes requires regular planning and attention, but typically it just fits into our lives pretty seamlessly. Sometimes I get frustrated that a cure isn't coming fast enough. Also, I get concerned about the potential long term complications of type 1 diabetes. It was eye opening to hear Dr. Edelman's speech on diabetes complications at the TCOYD conference a couple years ago. I know my expression must have conveyed fear because Kelsey quickly informed me that many of those complications occurred with more frequency before the development of the new technologies she's always had access to.
Still, diabetes is a serious condition and I hope that she'll be able to live a long and healthy life.