Romance arrives in many forms. Over our thirty-five years of marriage, my husband J. has bestowed plenty of tokens of his love, some more romantic than others (matching iPads, anyone?). But perhaps his greatest gift has been the million small things he’s done over these years to help me live well with type 2.
When you’re diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, there’s lots of talk about diets, exercise, blood sugars, triglycerides, HDL’s, LDL’s and more.
What is less discussed is emotional support.
A chronic disease like diabetes can leave you with lots of feelings – anger, boredom, anxiety, and frustration, to name a few. Over the years of dealing with type 2 I’ve gone through all of these and then some, but the one thing that’s always helped me bounce back is my husband’s constant, unfailing support.
While I’ve often said that diabetes can primarily be a DIY affair – leaving the patient with the burden of monitoring diet, exercise, blood sugars, medications and weight -- his support in all these areas has meant the world to me.
And to my diabetes care.
J.’s assistance has taken many forms. Sometimes it’s as simple as running downstairs for the blood glucose monitor and strips when I’m feeling shaky. Other days it’s making sure that when I get too engrossed in work, I don’t go too long without a meal. When we’re at the beach, he reminds me to stay hydrated; when we’re traveling, he walks alongside me to get in my 10,000 daily steps.
But maybe more to the point, he’s there for the emotional ups and downs. Days when I can’t quite get my blood glucose readings to where I want them; days when I want to say the hell with the whole disease. Days when I can’t stand the thought of another doctor appointment or yet one more revelation in the news about the damage type 2 can cause the body.
Plus, he’s been in the room where it happened. When I was stunned with the news of my gestational diabetes during my first pregnancy, he took over and asked important questions of our doctor. He cheered me on when I decided to avoid insulin and exercised two hours a day over the course of that pregnancy. And he did the same as I learned to give myself insulin injections during my second.
He lived through my two attempts at replacing my metformin and repaglinide with two different injectables that left me with awful and unending nausea.
For my work – which often centers on writing about diabetes – he’s my sounding board on how to make new therapies and findings consumer friendly. We’ve discussed everything from experimental islet transplantations for ”brittle” type 1’s to new guidelines on diabetes drugs that actually help prevent cardiac issues.
(He also claims not to get bored.)
Wedding vows cover loyalty during sickness and health. To young people on the threshold of their lives, these particular words may flit by, superfluous in the flush of youth. But as we’ve grown and aged, these particular vows have become more resonant. And true.