The first time I really heard the word “diabetes” was the day I told my mother I was engaged. My fiancé of less than a week had “sugar diabetes” and her limited knowledge of this disease process made her very sure that I was committing to a short lived life with my husband or, even worse, a husband not able to work because he would lose his limbs or be blind early in life. I was determined to be a good wife and be true to the commitments I would soon make in marriage – for better or worse, in sickness and in health, fully expecting my life would be a challenging road because of the Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis my husband received as an 18 year old boy. His initial symptoms were constant urination and rapid weight loss, easily leading the medical team to make the decision to check his blood glucose.
Accepting of this diagnosis, his loving mother quickly studied books and pamphlets to understand the life changing disease her son would never escape. As he would soon leave home for 2 years on a church service mission, she knew this training needed to be comprehensive and absorbed by a teenager. She taught him how the body uses carbohydrates as one of the main sources of energy. However, his body no longer had the capability to break this source down for glucose. The words ketoacidosis (DKA), ketones, fasting blood glucose, hemoglobin A1C, hyperglycemia and its brother hypoglycemia, insulin, and target range flew through the air like the fireflies on a Texas summer night – near but not fast enough to be able to catch any of them. She then decided to put together a recipe book so he could have his favorite meals, in a modified healthy format. This worked!
In 1995, the term diabetes was a part of my life and I was trying to search through dial up internet how to support my future husband, but also to understand more fully what I should expect for our future. Just like today, you could find sources and stories on all ends of the spectrum. It became apparent to me that I needed to develop a workable plan, not for me but with my husband as to how we, not him and not me, were going to live our life with diabetes. Here are the ways we agreed to live our lives with diabetes.
- We eat the same way. In order to succeed, we needed to bring food into our home that would support the diet that would keep our glucose numbers as consistent as possible. We needed to limit temptations. We have been trying a Keto approach lately, and my husband was tempted by a bag of our jerky on the counter. After eating the whole bag, he felt he must have destroyed his carb intake for the day before he remembered we make jerky the way we do so he can enjoy it! The whole bag was only 3 carbs and 135 calories.
- Always have an emergency stash for hypoglycemic episodes. When we were dating, he always had those chalky glucose discs in his glove box for emergencies. Now, we have a variety of items stashed in the house, cars, backpacks, and in suitcases when we travel for unexpected situations. We haven’t always been as prepared as we should have been, but there is never someone to blame, just an agreement to plan better.
- Never be ashamed to admit we are living with this condition. It is always okay to ask to have a drink or small snack brought before a meal if we know the situation requires it. We have a signal so that one of us can either ask for seconds or take the other’s portion when a limit has been reached.
- Live a healthy lifestyle. Some of our best conversations have been during walks after dinner. Neither one of us are very athletic, and our schedules don’t currently allow for us to participate in group sports, but a routine of a few minutes in the gym or a daily walk helps to keep the blood flowing.
We have been married 25 years and we are still learning about Type 1 Diabetes. I am forever grateful for the technology of the insulin pump, but I am more thankful for the journey I have traveled with the companion I am traveling this road with. The rings on our fingers indicate our eternal commitment to one another, come what may, including the challenges of diabetes. Diabetes is something we will always have together.Sources: