A question for PWD from a wife of a type 1 diabetic

Hello to anyone who will listen

I have a rather large problem. My husband - a very smart, sweet, giving, loving man - has some sort of “block” when it comes to checking his blood sugar. He has hypoglycemia unawareness, although he won’t admit it. He basically refuses to check his blood sugar before he gets into his truck. To make matters worse, he’s a volunteer firefighter and gets in fire trucks and ambulances without checking too. He has driven home from on numerous occasions with a BS of 40 or below. I’m not sure how he get here - auto pilot must kick in. He’s not been in an accident -yet. I really can’t understand why he won’t just check before he drives - I’ve asked, pleaded, cried, bitched… but all to no avail. I’m about at wit’s end. Do any of you have a suggestion for me?

Maybe he is worried that testing his blood sugar in front of his friends or co-workers will make him look weak. I used to think that. That’s why I would never take my meter with me when I left my apartment.

I really can’t pinpoint the exact instant that my brain came to understand how strong I really am by taking control of my diabetes… by testing in front of friends, co-workers, and complete strangers and not caring how they felt about it. Nearly all of the people around me were supportive, some were not. Needless to say, my opinion of the non-supportive people in my life went way down (as did the opinions of my real friends about the non-supportive @$$holes).

Here’s another possibility: Does the volunteer firefighter organization allow members who are diabetic? Some do, some don’t. I tried to volunteer for the local firefighter group, but on the application it asked if I was diabetic. I answered YES and was politely told they didn’t need anymore volunteers at this time (my friend who applied with me at the same time, and is not diabetic, was accepted).

Unfortunately, I can only guess at why your husband doesn’t want to test out of the comfort of home… I really don’t know how to suggest ways that you can make him test on the road. I think he will not change unless he wants to change. You can tell him how worried you are that something could happen, and that a simple blood sugar check can avoid all that.

I can tell you that since I started testing my blood sugar more often (I’m at 15 or more times per day) my control has been great, my A1c’s are in the 5.something range, and I feel awesome!

Hopefully, your husband can break out of his routine and start testing more when he goes out.

Good luck to you and your husband Just Little Me.


It took only one accident to smarten up. I had a 1986 Mercury Cougar and had my infant daughter with me. I was running errands on a Saturday and didn’t realize that I had switched my insulins. Needless to say 30 plus units of a regular insulin put me to sleep or something. To this day I don’t know how I lost the mirror off of the driver’s side of the car. I also smashed into four other cars stopped at a red light.

I am so thankful that no one was seriously injured that day. My daughter was in her car seat unharmed as well. I have to always check now before i get behind the wheel.

Believe me, I had a know it all attitude back then. I don’t anymore. I’m also thankful that I did not lose my license (a statey threatened to do so) and that I didn’t lose my assets in law suits.

Please share my story with him.

I used to be a lot like your husband when it came to testing my bg and giving my injections. It also doesn’t help my situation that I’m 100% STUBBORN Scottish and Irish, and no one knows more about my disease than me. Or so I thought. Fifteen years ago I chose a university as far away from my hometown as possible…Central Illinois was home and I chose San Antonio, TX. Why? In public my reasoning was because it was a great school with a reasonable tuition. On the inside, I wanted to get away from any and all family and friends that referred to me as their diabetic daughter or diabetic friend. I was 18, angry and ready to show the world I could do it on my own…without any identification on my body saying I was diabetic. My second day on campus, I slept in, ate a crappy meal and took WAY too much insulin. Laid down for a nap and woke up 18 hours later with a paramedic injecting glucagon into my leg. I was humiliated to say the least. So much for being an independant woman.

I guess the point of my long winded story is this. Looking back, if I could do it over again. Pricking my finger and giving myself shots in front of people in far less shamefull than all of the drama of being the girl that almost died on campus.

Ask him if he’s really willing to kills a child to support his denial.

He very well might.

Or a pedestrian. A bicyclist. Or whoever is in the other lane.

The people posting here are the ones who survived their accidents. Who were lucky. Not everyone is.

Then tell him that if he isn’t willing to protect the people who are on the road with him, you will and that if he doesn’t start testing, you will notify the authorities that he is driving impaired.

Yes, this is tough love, but imagine what your life would be like if he hit a school bus as he lost consciousness.

Thank you all for your posts - I really do appreciate it. I’ve tried all of your suggestions - except threatening to go to the police - that’s really tough love. Everyone knows that he’s a diabetic - it’s no secret - the fire department friends have been to our house a more than a few times for his hypo episodes that I couldn’t fix on my own. And he’s had a few episodes at work that needed the medics to bring him out of hypoglycemia. He keeps telling me that he is in control - he would never want to hurt anyone - it would kill him if he did - but he is adamant that he knows what he’s doing and that he’s got it under control. It’s the “invincible” attitude that kills me. He’s seen many diabetics on EMS calls - but he thinks he’s not like that - I just don’t get it - He’s smarter that this - I just don’t understand - checking is the only thing I ask of him - why won’t he do it? I DON"T KNOW!
Thanks - Thanks - Thanks

What amazes me by this is that he is endangering those he is serving with in the fire company. Have you spoke to any one in the fire company? Maybe they can reach him?

It is not going to do any one any favors if he experiences a low, for example, and his fellow firefighters have to save him instead of themselves or a real victim.

I gave up my position at a volunteer fire company because I realized that my fellow firefighters could be in danger because of me. I am not telling you he should give it up because there are so many advances in checking our sugars today, taking medicine, and application of it all.

All in all, it wasn’t all available to me back then. I truly wish you and your husband the best in all of this and I do hope that he can deal with this issue in good time because you are right in being afraid for him.

This sounds somewhat familiar, but I believe it happened to my husband more when he was younger. It doesn’t happen as much now, simply because I am with him virtually all the time, both being retired. Before we married and shortly afterward, he would also have hypogly incidents in his truck, out on the farm or elsewhere. One day he got in his truck (this was while I was still working) and ended up several miles from our house. He had enough wits about him to pull into a field off the highway and get on the radio and call our tower. He kept saying the same phrase over and over, which I can’t recall now. My stepson kind of zeroed in on where he was and found him.

I think for men that they believe they will be able to catch an incident before it causes harm simply by relying on how they feel, not realizing that with hypogly unawareness (which is exactly what it means!) they won’t be able to, through no fault of their own. The thing is that you have to ask him to please check his BS, so that you will have peace of mind about him while he is away. If he won’t take something with him, like a soda or juice, put it in his vehicle in the seat beside him. He will see it if he needs it. Let him know that you want him around for a long time, and that you are concerned about his welfare and health. You are his partner and helpmate. Use a gentle approach. Turn the argument around, and ask him if he would want you to do the same or put your life or others’ lives in jeopardy by having a hypogly attack. I don’t know if you believe in prayer, but that is the most important thing you can do. Pray that God will give him an understanding about what you as his wife are trying to do. If all fails and he leaves the house, pray for God’s protection over him. I hope this helps.
BTW, my husband is in his mid-70s and has been a T1 since the early 1960s! Diabetes, as you have found out, takes a determined dedication and ever vigilance to stay on top of it. It is not easy but it gets easier to manage. I wish you great success. Let me know how things are going. I will pray for your husband. D~Ann

Maybe you could modify one of those blood alcohol devices they use for convicted DUI offenders to require him to measure his blood sugar before the car will start.

Us guys don’t like being told what to do, so the more you tell us to test our BG before driving, the more likely we are to resist. I’m trying to think of a way to make it his idea, but I’m sorry that I’m falling short. Basically, he’s got to see another guy doing it, or hear or read about another guy doing it. Does he listen to his doctor? Perhaps asking the doctor to require it would help - of course, you have to tell the doctor to keep your name out of it.

Good luck,


Have you looked into a diabetic pump? They only supply insulin as needed and can be set to give a warning if the bg drops too low as in an impending hypgly. Check with your doctor.


I think that you have been grossly misinformed. An insulin pump can only give insulin in pre-determined dosage rates, and there are no insulin pumps that determine BG levels. You might be thinking of a Continuous Glucose Monitoring device, but this is a device that is separate from the pump (with the option of integrating with some models of pump). Even in that case, though, you have to check any alarms (hypo or otherwise) with a finger stick.

Why do you think people that wear pumps have lows?

I am sad to see such a misrepresentation of reality in our own community when so many people work so hard to change public perception of diabetes. A pump is NOT a cure!

Two of the newer pump interact with continuous glucose monitors to better control the bg within acceptable limits. They are not yet fully automatic but they are in the foreseeable future. Selection of a pump system must be made with the advice of your doctor and diabetes team.

Maybe it depends on what part of the country you live in, or what insurance company you have, but an accident with a low could invalidate his insurance (imagine being sued for everything you own) and cause his license to be withdrawn. It would be terrible to hurt someone, and a big nuisance to lose the freedom that driving brings. In my neck of the woods, a doctors certificate is needed for license renewal stating that he/she believes that the person has enough BS control and is safe to drive. Best of luck - it tough to get a person to do what they don’t want to do. But keep trying - the life you save could be his.

Sometimes people have knowledge and even knowledge of consequences, but they don’t take the next step of an action that that knowledge mandates. Sometimes it’s habit. There are lots of reasons for this.
If the fire dept knows, and it is ok that he’s diabetic, then introduce something.
Suggest he ask his doc/endo for a CGMS which will require him to test “to calibrate it”. There are some good ideas in the CGMS group materials for making them work bettern ever.
He’s got hypoglycemic unawareness, so he’s running too low. His endo would be happy if he even wants to tackle it.
To others, he can say he decided to use the little machine to keep him “riding higher”… It may enable him to keep at targets like 95-100, give a little push that you can’t, and let him see what a glucose pill will do at, say 80, rather than a glucose syringe at 30. Over time, he can zero in on other targets of which there are many. Sounds like diabetes has gotten old to him. Maybe the CGMS can give him new challenges. Concerned along with you, and best wishes.

“Two of the newer pump interact with continuous glucose monitors to better control the bg within acceptable limits.”

I know…one of those is the MiniMed 722, which is the pump that I have been wearing for over a year now. On a more pedantic note, I use the pump and the CGMS as TOOLS to help ME control my blood sugar. They are useless without my knowledge, my experience, and my programming. They control nothing on their own, and instead make managing this disease slightly easier on a day-to-day basis.

Did you even read my post? I mention that you have the option of integrating the pump and the CGMS. My point is that even with a CGMS, you still need to do multiple finger-sticks per day, and beyond that, it takes a LOT of experimentation to determine the appropriate rates and ratios.

Lastly, a closed-loop monitoring/infusion system is not, to my knowledge, “in the foreseeable future”, at least according to any accepted definition of foreseeable.

“Did you even read my post?”

Good information but intensity of comment a little on the strong side . . .

Who_one is right, Robert, but as you’re not a Type 1 diabetic, we really don’t expect you to know this! Hopefully, you can learn everything you ever wanted to know about pumps from your friends here with insulin pumps at TuDiabetes. It is a continuous infusion of insulin in small, absorption-friendly drips like an IV - which is why it’s preferable to shots for some - better absorbed, smaller increments. The monitor and pump, while they can communicate in some pairings, are still entirely under the control of the user. Pumps don’t actually aid in preventing lows, per se, as the user still gets insulin as they did before on shots. And CGM systems can help warn of oncoming lows, but they have to be used in conjunction with testing your blood glucose - not as a replacement for it.

I have had Type 1 almost 20 years, have worn an insulin pump for 9 years, and a continuous glucose monitor for 5 months. The dream of a closed loop system is indeed an end goal for some researchers, but what exists today and within our lifetimes will not solve the problem that Just Little Me’s husband faces. Even with a continuous monitor, one must still do fingerstick tests for calibration, before taking insulin boluses (via a pump) or an injection, and whenever one feels high or low.

Just Little Me, I recommend you consult the Behavioral Diabetes Institute online and see if they offer any resources. I agree with others that a serious discussion with him is in order - tough love all the way. He knows better as a medical first responder!!! He probably would benefit from discussing his reluctance to face his diabetes with a licensed counselor, too.

I do have an idea. Demand he purchase you an umbrella policy that protects you and your joint assets up to $50 million dollars. It will be expensive but far less than paying for a fire truck accident if he is low. True, the city will pay a larger amount, but your assets and livelihood are clearly in jeopardy. I also suggest that you raise the ceiling 5 million dollars every five years, until it stops.

Nothing speaks to a man like sex and money, I know I is one.


Thank you all for your suggestions and comments. It’s hard to believe that it’s been a year since I wrote that post, and it’s still getting comments. He does wear an insulin pump, thank God. He’s had it for 10 years now and it probably added at least 20 years to his life. We are not in a position to get the CGM, though. It’s quite expensive and until insurance will cover a good part or all of it, it won’t happen. Even still if he doesn’t check it enough now, who’s to say that he’ll do the calibrations then. Even with the pump, he will give himself a bolus without checking the BS level or not bolus for an hour or two after he ate! That’s really aggravating! We will be married 20 years this year, and I still think he’s the best thing that ever happened to me, it’s just so difficult to watch him not take care of himself, knowing what the consequences are. I guess that’s why I’ve been taking better care of myself. Thanks again all!