Diabetes and Relationships
"People Are Weird. When We Find Someone With Weirdness That is Compatible With Ours, We Team Up And Call It Love" - Dr Seuss
The principle is the same. Find someone that we like enough to spend time with and we might just be lucky enough that they want to do the same. But throw diabetes into the mix and things can get a bit complicated.
This is Nathan and Sally's story on love, compromise, friendship, support, and chronic disease.
Nathan and Sally have been married since 2013. Here's Sally's story
I can remember the day Nathan was diagnosed like it was yesterday. The day started like every other working day, both in a rush first thing in the morning. I was heading out the door running to grab the train to the city. Nathan had made an appointment to see the doctor for nothing serious, or so we thought. He had developed what appeared to be rosacea and wanted to visit a doctor for a ‘once over’, as he’d not seen a doctor for multiple years.
I recall my desk phone ringing and Nathan sounding calm. He said the doctor has sent him to the diabetes clinic at the hospital, that everything was fine, but that he didn’t know what was going on. I hung up the phone and stared at my computer drifting into a daze. I was in complete and utter ignorance, not aware of the severity or potential of the diagnosis at that point. The next thing I remember is my boss tapping me on the shoulder, as she’d overheard the conversation, advising I should leave the office and head to the hospital.
I Googled how to get to the hospital. Little did I know it would become a regular visit for the coming year for both of us. As I walked into the room where Nathan sat, I began to feel very concerned. The diabetes educator was instructing him on insulin levels and how to inject. I had missed the initial diagnosis conversation and the educator commended Nathan on how he had taken this diagnosis. I knew he was in shock and at this point, I felt numb and in complete ignorance of this disease. All I knew was life was about to change for us dramatically.
My inner-self wanted to keep calm and not show emotion, that this was where I would step up for my husband and nurse him through this initial storm of events.
One of Nathan’s biggest hurdles was telling people, especially the family who live overseas. I was his only sounding board for the first 2 weeks of diagnosis. He was very down and every time he’d think of a strategy to tell his family, he would break down in tears. He wanted to wait and gain control over his emotions and a clearer understanding of this disease, before telling his parents.
Dealing With Emotions
I remember going for early-morning walks when he was still in bed and having a big cry, as I didn’t want him to see me upset. Looking back on it, I can only compare it to grief; the mourning of our past life. The mourning of how we used to feel young and carefree. Throw a bit of anger into the mix too! However, time is a great healer as clichè as it sounds, I began to establish various coping mechanisms and tips on how to:
A – Support my Husband;
B – Support myself.
Tips On Supporting A Partner With TID
Commend your partner
Every single day is a challenge, especially if they experience a bad day with their numbers. Reinforce how well they’re managing themselves.
We’re here to support, but remember they know best. Adopt boundaries. Only ask them to check their bloods if you think they may be experiencing lows/highs. Over-management and micro-management can be terribly frustrating for both parties. Let them make decisions.
Don’t (or try not to) bite back when your partner is argumentative or moody. They may well be experiencing a low or a high and it’s not their fault. Maybe you can adopt a boundary here where you can get them to check their bloods.
Attend education sessions together
Research events that may take place in hospitals near you. Clear time in your diaries and prioritise this. It’s a learning curve for us all.
Tips On How To Cope
Accept That Your Life Will Change
The sooner you accept these changes and adopt these changes to your lifestyle, the sooner you will begin to settle into your new life. Remember, put a positive spin on it. You’ll be healthier for it too.
Live Life Together Like Your Also Have Diabetes
This again will not only support your partner, but it will also make life easier at meal times if you adopt a similar diet and again you’ll be healthier for it, especially incorporating exercise into your routine.
Research the disease, read people’s stories, learn what to do in emergencies. The more of an expert you become, the more confidence you’ll have managing this with your partner.
Always have glucose tablets on your person. Ideally, have duplicates of all diabetic equipment. Have supplies in the glove compartment of your car, sweets in each handbag, etc… Never get caught out. It’s not a fun experience.
Support The World Of Diabetes
Get involved in creating awareness for various diabetes-related charities. Participate in fun runs in your area. Host charity events in your home.
So to conclude, my best piece of advice is to unite as a team, share a similar mindset on your approach to managing this disease together, keep learning and keep listening. Always remember to have a laugh!
You’ve got this x