Today’s post is written by my better half, to give an idea on life as the partner of a Type One. Having been good friends for a couple of years, we decided to give it a go together in February after a change in circumstances for us both, and neither of us have looked back since.
I’ve spent nearly my entire life completely ignorant of Diabetes. My mother suffered from Type 2, but I never really made the effort to find out more. I was one of those that diabetics hate. I associate it with poor diets, obesity or plain old hereditary bad luck. And then I met her.
When we first started becoming friendly, she mentioned being a diabetic. I’ll be honest, I never really thought too deeply about it. At that time, I had no idea how close we would become and just how much I would learn. As time went on, we grew closer. I started to learn from her tone when something had happened and how it had affected her. I decided to read up and I was startled to discover just how serious it could be.
We’ve been together six months now. In that time I’ve learnt so much. I know the difference between high and low blood sugar. I can spot the signs of a hypo sometimes even before she can. Mood changes, especially suddenly becoming almost aggressive with no warning. I’ve not done anything wrong (that I know of!), and it’s totally out of her hands. She might go cool and clammy yet break out in a sweat. Slurring words or struggling to put sentences together. Struggling with balance or complaining of headaches that have come on quickly. These aren’t a definitive list by any means, but they could all be pointers to an oncoming hypo. I know the basics of treatment and try to assist in any small way I can. I still don’t know nearly enough.
There are so many things you can’t, and won’t ever see as an outsider. The mental scars borne out by an invisible illness that can confuse, frustrate and torment even the most experienced diabetic. The times when all logic says their blood sugar should be stable but they just can’t get up above hypo level. This can be the hardest time as the partner of a diabetic. You want to do whatever you can to help them but they can’t even tell you where to begin because they don’t know themselves. The anguish is writ large on their face and all you want to do is make it better for them, to take away the pain for even just a day to give them a break. Knowing you can’t even do that, it hurts.
You might be like me, a partner/spouse. You might be a parent, you might even be the son or daughter of a T1D. You’ll know the immense feelings of pride at how they cope day after day with injections, finger pricks, carb calculations, stress management, exercise regimes, dietary planning, logistics involved in just leaving the house. You might look at it like I do and think “I couldn’t do that.” So what can we do from the outside looking in? I’ve found just being there, doing the small things helps massively. What seems insignificant to you, getting a bottle of Lucozade to treat a hypo, holding a hand while during the fifth insulin injection of the day, just being there and listening to them as they cry and get out all frustrations, these things mean the absolute world to them because it reminds them that they aren’t alone.
Every day that goes by, I learn something new. The more I learn, the more I want to help. The more I want to help, the more I learn. It’s a positive cycle. I’ll never have to fight the battles that she does every day. But by understanding more of what she goes through, it puts me in a better position to help. While I wish for her sake I hadn’t had to learn anything, I’m so glad I have because it’s helped me get to know the strongest person I’ve ever met.