Diabetes and Relationships: An Interview With My Husband
When you have diabetes it can really put stress on a relationship. The person that does not have diabetes will need to be understanding, patient, kind, and sometimes your nurse in the middle of the night Having diabetes is a mentally exhausting process for a person with diabetes as well as your partner.
I decided to interview my husband - to get inside his head and see what he thinks about living with a person with diabetes.
Here we go…
GINA: What has been the toughest part of living with someone who has diabetes?** MIKE:** Seeing the strain it puts on you on a daily basis and how it sometimes, not very often, but sometimes gets the better of you. Not being able to help you at times or not being able to say the right thing to make a situation better. But the toughest part, by far, is every once in a while when you get that look on your face like you’re being held back. That truly breaks my heart because I know you like being active and going out and doing things on a whim but can’t, sometimes, because of a low or a high blood sugar.
GINA: Did my diabetes cause you any hesitation when thinking about proposing to me?** MIKE:** It never once crossed my mind as something that would keep me from asking you to marry me.
Believe me, there were plenty of other things that made me question the sanity of my decision to propose to you, but not diabetes.
It doesn’t define who you are to me. Yes, it’s obviously a very significant part of who you are and who are as a couple and it influences a number of things in our lives. But it doesn’t and can’t ever change the person that you are inside and that’s who I fell in love with. And nothing, not diabetes, not anything is ever going to change that.
I knew there would be challenges and ups and downs (or highs and lows) but I also knew that not one of those things would ever be greater than the love I have for you. So, to be honest, it never even figured in my decision.
GINA: What have you learned about yourself and me in the time that we have lived together?** MIKE:** I have learned that I am more supportive than I ever thought I was capable of being and at the same time not as understanding as I always thought I was. I know there are things I can do better in terms of helping you cope but it’s only been a year so come back in 12 months and ask me that question again and, hopefully, I’ll be able to tell you there isn’t anything I can think of that I need to be doing better.
I have learned that you are far stronger than I ever thought you were. I learned that you have to figure out and deal with more problems and concerns on a daily basis than most people. I learned that you have accepted this and will never once ask why me or complain about it not being fair, and that is something to marvel at because I think a lot of people, whether they admit or not ask, "Why me?"
I learn something from you everyday about being a better, stronger and more focused person.
GINA: How concerned are you about the challenges of having a baby?** MIKE:** I won’t lie to you, but having a baby, a boy in particular , would be amazing. All that matters to me, thoug, is being with you. If it happens, it happens. And if it doesn’t, it doesn’t. The challenges don’t worry me all that much because you and I have been through a lot to get to this point and things have always worked themselves out. And I know this will too.
GINA: When something goes wrong with my diabetes, how do you react? ** MIKE:** I stay calm - I have to - especially if it’s something serious like a blood sugar reading that simply says “High.” You never really get rattled and always do what you have to do start changing your site, call the doctor, etc. But I try to make sure I’m getting you whatever you need as quickly as possible and making sure you keep a cool head. I also try, when appropriate, too add some levity to the situation. Like that time last year on the night before Christmas Eve when your blood sugar was so high due to a kink in your pump wire and you weren’t getting any insulin and you got really sick and started vomiting. On the way to the hospital you were still vomiting and I said, “Well, you always said my driving makes you sick.” You took your face out of the garbage bag and smiled.
GINA: Have you had to change anything about your lifestyle because of my diabetes? ** MIKE:** In all honesty, I haven’t had to really change that much. I have to get up a little earlier if I want to get the day started bright and early so you have time to check your blood and get everything in order. The only changes I have had to make have all been good like being more cautious, aware and understanding.
GINA: Any funny diabetes stories you can think of relating to our relationship? ** MIKE:** None that I can think of except that time recently when we were watching a scary movie and it got real quiet and your CGM started vibrating and it scared the hell out of me. That was actually the scariest part of the night because the movie wasn’t that scary.
GINA: What was your learning curve like? ** MIKE:** The curve was pretty big in some areas and small in others. Big in the sense that I had to learn not to take it personal when you would get mad at me for pestering you to check your blood or waking you up in the middle of the night because the CGM would be vibrating or ringing. And small in terms of what the numbers mean, how to inject you or what exactly I need to do when you wake up low.
GINA: How much do you get involved in the day-to-day stuff like carb counting, prescription refilling? ** MIKE:** It all depends, I guess. If I need to go and pick up your insulin or supplies I do that, but I’ve never mastered the art of carb counting so I don’t get involved in that aspect of things all that much. I’ll check your blood if I’m leaving in the morning and I want to make sure you’re blood sugar level is in the right spot and I’ll make sure you have juice or whatever you may need on your night table before heading out. And I always try to remember to tell you to bolus before you eat.
I regulalry ask how your blood is and how you’re feeling.
If I can give you one piece of advice, when you are married or in a committed relationship, you need to be open and honest when discussing your diabetes care.
Education is key. Whenever you are going through a life change like getting a new job or having a baby, you will both need to learn as much as you can from your CDE or doctor. Also, don’t forget to communicate! The more you tell your partner about how you feel, the easier it is for them to help you.
I hope you can take something beneficial from our experiences. Please share your relationship stories with me in my comment box!
Want more? Check out: The Spouse’s Perspective
Gina wrote for HealthCentral as a patient expert for Diabetes.