Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Supporting the One You Love…In the Face of Diabetes (Guest Blogger Cheryl Farmer)

Marriage is a beautiful union shared between two people who love each other. As part of our marriage vows, we said we would love and care for each other in sickness and in health until death do we part. I love my husband and I know that he loves me. Our love has inspired me to share how diabetes affects our personal life.

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.

When I’m not at work, my husband and I spend our time near each other, close together. We truly enjoy each other’s company. Every day in the evening, he says he’s going to take his evening meds and walks away — and I can feel his loneliness, sadness, and separation. He shares with me that he leaves because he feels shame. As his partner, I tell him of the emotions and thoughts that are evoked within my heart and mind. Because I know what he’s going through, I now make a conscious effort to be with him, supporting, and touching him when he does his insulin injections. My hope is that my support will help ease his shame and sense of personal failure.

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.


  1. Thanks so much for this blog post! I find that so much of what you have written applies to supporting a loved one through any chronic medical condition--be it depression, autoimmune disease, additiction, diabetes (as is the case here), etc. The impact of social and emotional support on the health, wellbeing and habits of an individual living with a chronic medical condition cannot be overestimated. Congratulations and all the best to you and your husband.

  2. Thank you for this lovely post. My husband also had diabetes and has worked hard to keep it well controlled. Now I need to work on my attitude (I am sad and a little angry). You've shown me the way to get beyond myself and be there for us both. Thank you so much!