Explaining Seriousness of Diabetes to New Partner

#1

Hi. Looking for a sympathetic ear and some advice.

I have a new “boyfriend” (we’re both in our early 50s) and I was telling him about when I was first diagnosed with diabetes in 1992. He was surprised that I had been immediately hospitalized and couldn’t understand the need to be in hospital. (Arg! My life belittled in one sentence!) I tried to explain that many tests had to be done to first verify the diagnosis, then to check to see if any damage had been done from having high blood sugar for who knows how long.

I don’t think he was convinced.

What else can I say? Any good links?

Thank you. I really like this new guy and he’s open and does have a curious mind so I think there’s hope for him!

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#2

Do you think he has good low blood sugar detecting skills? Yet untested?

#3

Yet untested. I’m very aware of my lows, so am reaching for sugar before he knows what’s up. He does now understand that when I’m low, I need sugar not insulin. :wink: Baby steps!

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#4

I can say that, in general, it has been my experience that people with chronic illness seem to take to the role much better. They seem to have an innate understanding that allows them to figure out a lot of stuff on their own, without me explaining it. They tend to be more interested in diabetes.

I find a much steeper learning curve among the general population. I find it quite frustrating, even among family members who have known me my entire life. My brother has some ability to recognize low blood sugar, but my parents will never be of much assistance. Its simply too outside their field of reference.

I think that being able to identify low blood sugar is a good indicator for someones ability to eventually understand.

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#5

When I tell people about my diabetes, I tend to emphasize the fact that my body produces no insulin (so without insulin my blood sugar quickly reaches life-threatening levels) and that because I’m basically guessing at how much insulin my body needs at any given time I can rise very high or drop very low very quickly (thus need to monitor and adjust frequently). As for hospitalization, I was hospitalized because my blood sugar was high enough that I could go into a coma and things needed to be stabilized.

I’m still not sure many people understand how serious diabetes is, but hopefully some do. I also think that as you spend time around one another and he sees you doing various diabetes tasks, he’ll hopefully pick up on how much of an impact it has on your life and ask more detailed questions.

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#6

I was dx’d 6 years (in 1978) after marrying my first wife. It was super tough on both of us. Stressful for her when I’d crash and it caused me no end of anxiety with the speed of the drops I experienced prior to better insulins, prior to getting a meter…or a pump…or counting carbs. We were both ill-prepared for my diabetes and I feared the worst–that I’d die in my sleep from a severe low (which actually was likely) or live a very short life filled with diabetic complications.

Fast forward about 24 years and I met my current wife who is also a diabetic. I don’t have to explain diabetes to her. :slight_smile: And about the time we met, I started to pump.

For me the steps to better control were (in chronological order, rather than order of importance):

  1. 1992 - got my first meter (Lifescan II)
  2. 1996 - got my first pump (MM 506) and began counting carbs
  3. late 1996 - started Humalog
  4. 2017 - got the G5! (probably the best item on the list)
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#7

Frantastic, I hope that your boyfriend is open to learning all he can about your illness. My husband of almost 50 yrs has always been extremely supportive of my type 1. I can’t imagine being with someone who isn’t because I have needed his support throughout the years. You need to make sure he loves you enough to educate himself. Some folks just aren’t capable of that kind of love and understanding.

I don’t mean to sound harsh, but you won’t be happy if he doesn’t understand. Hopefully he will be open to the seriousness of diabetes and what it takes to live with someone with this illness.

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#8

Thanks for your input @Marilyn6. You hit the nail on the head. After a 20 year marriage with someone who didn’t offer much support, I’m looking for someone with more understanding. You are very lucky to have an understanding husband.

Things are good already as he knows about eating healthy and tried a keto diet for 9 months recently. We’ve been able to put together some really good low carb meals on our dates. We even tried making sushi with riced cauliflower. The ex and I always ate separately which sucked big time.

I think the main challenge will be to be patient and not expect him to learn everything about diabetes all at once. I’m still learning after 27 years!

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#9

Thanks @Jen. I didn’t say how high my blood sugar was at the time. That might help. He’s getting to know what normal numbers should be.

Thanks @Dave44. Oh my, to date someone who also has T1? That would be awesome. There should be a special category for that on “Plenty of Fish”, where I caught this current “fish”. And then to marry… that must be a special relationship. When with my ex, I always felt like I was on my own with my diabetes, especially around meal prep, and that gets very lonely after 20 years.

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#10

Yes, Frantastic it’s really cool to have a well-controlled T1 as a spouse. We are very lucky (so far!). We have now been together for 23 years. Presuming for the moment that the other person has gone many years without complications, I think it is great having a fellow diabetic spouse as opposed to a non-diabetic who doesn’t QUITE have a handle on the ins and outs of diabetes. Non diabetics can try, but it just doesn’t always work out that way–they are too often confused about it all. (Not that there aren’t T1’s similarly confused. LOL! )

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#11

Depending on how high your BG was at diagnosis you probably needed IV fluids to rehydrate and correct electrolytes to avoid DKA. You may also have needed to receive some training on how to inject insulin and dose for meals. I was in the hospital for 5+ days with 3 of them being in the PICU because I was in a coma and had lost over 20% of my blood volume due to dehydration which led to DKA.

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#12

Back in the “old days”, learning to inject meant stabbing an orange with the syringe. Ever do that?

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#13

Just tell him you darn near died. Which is true if you were in DKA.

Even if you were not in DKA most T1s have such high BG at diagnosis that they are near it.

#14

I am not sure what is hard to understand, if you have very high bg or you are in dka that is an emergency.

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#15

Yep.

#16

I don’t know about DKA, but bg was 33 (594). Everyone else seemed so calm at the time, except for the original call from the doctor, so yes, it was an emergency, but I don’t remember it feeling like one. I knew the seriousness, but it was kind of weird because I was interested in biology and I didn’t think my lifestyle was going to change that much. Just took it all in, but you’re right it was serious. It’s just been so long since I had to tell the story.

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#17

P.S. I also have appreciation for those friends who dont know anything/sorta aren’t cut out for understanding. They never bring up diabetes. Its like it doesn’t even exist. It has absolutely no influence on their perception of me as a person. There can be something refreshing about that and their naivete, also, LOL.

Not everyone who doesn’t understand is a bad person. I think some people are just more attuned to the emotional music of the people around them - they are naturally more empathetic people who feel other peoples emotions. That gives them certain advantages in detecting low blood sugar. They can just sense when something is slightly “off kilter.” I call them my unofficial ‘street medics.’ They are the ones who will tend to stop and help if a stranger on the street if he/she doesn’t seem quite right. They just sense it. Sometimes those random strangers have helped me - just handed me a granola bar for no reason, and prevented a lot of problems.

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#18

No I was 18 months old although my mom could have been taught that way.

#19

Question, @Frantastic - Is he much larger than you? I always worry about that in a partner, just in case of critical failure. But, I have a relatively large, athletic build and I worry that I could really do some damage to someone if I was out of my mind. I like to know that they stand a good chance of defending themselves. It puts me at ease, LOL.

I don’t think I’ve taken a swing at anybody as an adult. But, I have a couple times. Once I punched a cop. I got him really good. He was ok, but I’m sure it hurt and I felt bad about it. I’ve thrown things at people. The medics tend to come at me as a group, which is safer.

Sometimes, in an emergency, I think I panic. Plus, I’m fueled with low blood sugar adrenaline. Thats bad. My best ‘handlers’ know how to stay ultra calm (even if things are going really bad), thus preventing patient panic. I try to do that with others. It helps. They can always walk away and come back when I’m passed out. I tell the ‘street medics’ to just stay out of sight if things ever get that sketchy - hide behind something, and keep an eye out for when I am weak enough to approach. Thats what we were taught to do as EMTs. I have used that myself. It works.

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#20

I can understand that appreciation and the need to feel “normal”. I am looking for a new “life partner”. I don’t want to have to pretend to be normal. Ya know?!

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