Being a medical professional helped me understand this chronic condition, diabetes, but it didn’t protect my heart from the emotional heaviness that comes from seeing him struggle to maintain his health. As a doctor, I’ve cared for many people with diabetes. In my practice, I followed a prescribed treatment regimen to support people with diabetes by discussing lifestyle changes and prescribing medications, with lab work every three to six months. It’s different when it’s someone you love.
As my loved one works to control this chronic medical condition, I’m often aware of the adversity, loneliness, sadness, sorrow, and shame he feels. We talk about where these feelings come from and why they exist. He says that he feels that he has somehow failed himself and me, because of his diabetes. He blames himself. I assure him that he has not failed. My words, eyes, and touch express how proud I am of him in his continuous unrelenting pursuit to control and manage this condition. Living with diabetes is work. It requires being aware of what you eat, when you eat, always taking your medicines as prescribed, and daily physical activity to support a healthy weight.
As we work to lift his spirit, it’s important for me to let him know how important his voice is to me. Being aware of his emotional state keeps me alert to his actions, and supports his continued work to manage his disease.
In addition to offering emotional support, I’ve changed my eating and exercise patterns to help him manage his health. As a result of eating more whole fruits and vegetables, increasing our physical activity, sleeping between 6 and 8 hours nightly, reducing our alcohol intake (one drink every two to three weeks), and consistently taking medications, his blood glucose (blood sugar) numbers have reduced significantly. His fasting blood sugar numbers previously ranged from 170 to 230. Now his fasting blood glucose ranges from 60 to 85! We’re excited about his improvements. His doctor has hinted that as he continues to improve, we may be able to reduce his medication doses. We’re encouraged to continue with our work together.
I love my husband and I know he loves me, and I want to spend many more years together with him in good health. It’s important for us to remember that chronic conditions like diabetes can affect us all — directly and indirectly. Let’s use this time in November to remember National Diabetes Month and think about ways that we can support our love ones in their quest to control and manage this disease.