A few weeks ago on a sunny Sunday afternoon Sheryl and I went to a new park near our house. It is a rather large park which is not well developed. It is comprised of trails that wind around a woods and meadow. Many of these trails go around or near a rather large tree nursery. These trees are a new Indiana woods in the making, but the park managers also share the trees with other park departments. So the nursery is a living tribute to good forest management and the beauty of my community helping others as we preserve our past.
This park is so large and has so many trails it is hard to know where you are or where you are going. The more we walked the more it looked like we had to walk. We walked in a circle and then another we walked around a wonderful old natural Indiana woods and a beautiful prairie. I was reminded that woods in Indiana, Ohio, Kentucky and Illinois are truly fantastic. They offer shade but also they trap moisture and create a surreal experience, of very large trees, downed rotting wood and dense undergrowth. I grew up in some of these places and I felt right at home both on the prairie and in the woods. It is an amazing place for a young man to grow up and today I felt right at home.
Now Sheryl, felt something else. As we went further on our walk we were hopelessly lost. Being lost even in a public park was not a good feeling for my wife. She wanted me to turn back almost before we got started, and then with each step forward She wanted to take two steps back. Our little dog Samantha clearly sided with Sheryl. Being a house dog she is up for an occasional walk and maybe a fair walk every day can be fun, but this was not fun for Samantha. She was leading the way but with every step forward she wanted to turn around.
In the end Samantha and Sheryl won out, the vote was decidedly two to one. And we turned around, retraced our steps and ended up back where we started. The safe way got us out of trouble pretty quickly and with each step forward Samantha and Sheryl felt much better. I certainly was happy to get back to the car, my blood sugar had dropped a lot and I did not have apple juice or glucose tabs with me. At the car I was 62 and dropping like a rock. Sheryl certainly made the right call to turn around but wow I so wanted to go forward.
This experience was a microcosm of our different approaches to diabetes management. For the most part at my house diabetes management is a family affair. I do my part sure, but over time Sheryl has taken a role in managing my blood sugar and overall health. We have two philosophies about management of diabetes. Me I am not so worried about lows, I hate highs. Sheryl is not so concerned with highs, she hates lows. So we sometimes disagree and you know we are both right, but for different reasons. I am willing to stretch things in order to lower my blood sugar. Sheryl always prefers to operate with a net and feels ok with me being 100+ all day long.
Of course different perspectives are a natural outcome of dual management of type 1 diabetes. Sheryl does not feel the highs, but has to manage the low lows. I feel the highs, but zone out during the lowest of the lows. Perhaps it is fear of the two parts we experience that drives our diabetes management styles. As I said neither approach is wrong, and both have their merits. Yet neither approach gets one to the optimal level. Thus at least in my case it takes two people much of the time to balance things out.
I suppose that is the beauty of sharing diabetes for 38 years. We can afford to be wrong and yet when we communicate we are both right. It usually takes that nudge to get me to turn around and treat my blood sugar, a push to get me to understand when I have stretched it too far. Oh and sometimes a club to just tell me that being low is not acceptable.
Over time Sheryl has saved me countless times from the devastating lows I sometimes have. Usually in the middle of the night, she finds me covered in sweat next to her in bed. The sheets soaked, my clothes stuck to me like I have been digging a ditch on a hot day. Sheryl takes charge gets the apple juice or Glucagon and nurses me back to reality. She strips the bed so I do not have to sleep in the wetness created by my awful sweat. This is something I am so thankful for and Sheryl has been doing it for 38 years. No one except, those who care for a diabetic, understand the burden.
So when we go for a walk in the woods. We walk with our histories. We walk as a couple in different perspectives sure but one common aim to enjoy the day, the month the life. We walk with our histories, our children and grandchildren. We walk as lovers with the best history. We walk looking forward but one of us troubled we have gone too far and the other wanting to reclaim a carefree prediagnosis past by going forward. A late summer walk , a life shared together, with love our common anchor.