Spouse of T2

Hi there, my husband is 47, he was diagnosed approximately 5 years ago. He has a bodybuilder type body frame - no steroid use. He’s about 5’11 and 250 lbs. Most of that is muscle - carries some weight around his middle which is hard.

He was very premature back when woman drank tab and smoked during their pregnancies. He was about 3 months premature back when babies like that didn’t survive. He has 70% hearing in one ear and 40 in the other but he reads lips. He had braces on his legs when he was little, he’s been a fighter.

His mom still drinks regular coke, doesn’t eat great and smokes. He was drinking 60 ounces of regular pepsi a day when I met him. I grew up with a mother that thought Maple Brown Sugar oatmeal was junk food. He went to Pepsi One (splenda) around the time he met me.

He has some viral and exercise induced asthma, mainly coughing and takes an inhaled corticosteroid for it daily. He quit his pop habit and has always tried to stay somewhat lower carb most of the time long before the diabetes, for weight purposes. But he worked out a ton and ate however he wanted to when we were out - weekends, holidays, etc.

When he was diagnosed he didn’t want it to rule his life. We went to 2 of the classes - I went with and was very involved. Then we couldn’t make the 3rd and he bailed ont he 4th and despite my efforts he never went back.

He goes to his appointments and his A1C is around 7.0 but he doesn’t test very regularly at all - maybe once every month or so. And he doesn’t count carbs.

He’s developed GERD and had some high blood pressure and higher cholesterol which I am told are good now - with medications.

He has Maple Brown Sugar Instant Oatmeal with a tiny splash of 1/2 and 1/2 and a drizzle of honey in the morning and a PACT cranberry extract water most mornings. I got the steel cut version which he doesn’t like as much. I know it’d be better for sweeping cholesterol, protein, blood sugar, etc. and he knows.

I’ve offered and pack good snacks for him at his desk - he works in a warehouse and is on his feet a lot. Things like Lara Bars and apples, jerky, nuts, healthier crackers and those snap pea snacks and baked garbanzo bean snacks.

For lunches he’ll get into a rut and eat a lot of chinese, pizza and sometimes he’s really good on eating salads - usually a chef type salad or a baked potato and chili from Wendy’s…healthier options.

We have 2 boys, 6 and 8. For dinner I try to do a lean protein, a vegetable and a healthier starch. He likes spaghetti squash or I’ll do a steamed corn or peas or green beans…I try to limit the carbs but I don’t exclude pasta maybe 1 time a week or a pizza night. We go out to eat maybe once a week? He’ll typically have a couple popsicles or a pudding at night…full sugar. I’ve tried to get him into dark chocolate - he does not like it.

But sometimes it’s bad yknow? We went to a movie and after a lunch I made, he had nachos and a pretzel…and then I had made spaghetti for dinner and he wanted bread with it - which kills me.

He has some insomnia and the dawn phenomenon with his blood sugar.

He caught a nasty cold we all got but it’s been almost a month of it in some fashion…and he doesn’t eat well when he’s sick.

I’m Type A - to the max. And he’s not…and I dont’ have diabetes - so this puts us in a bad dynamic naturally. I try to leave it alone and have healthier stuff in the house, and also feed my kids…limit eating out…stuff like that. If I’m going to make pasta one night I’ll make scrambled eggs for breakfast that day…I search for balance. He gets defensive whenever I bring it up - doesn’t want to talk about it - doesn’t want me involved. I feel that’s so unfair - because I’m very affected - we all are.

He doesn’t seem to ask his doc a lot of questions - he doesn’t research, he doesn’t test regularly…his A1C is ok…but I also hear that damage happens at blood sugars over 140 so is it? So the Gerd and the Blood Pressure and the Insomnia - it’s like a chicken or the egg type of thing. His stomach seems to be more sensitive now. Is he having damage from swings? Is it normal stuff that happens as you near 50?

I don’t know what to make of it…how he’s doing…if this is good enough…I don’t know how to feel, I don’t know what to do and I have our future and 2 little boys that I worry about. They adore him - he’s great and very involved. I know HIPPA would probably prevent me from talking to his doc and he wouldn’t want me at an appointment.

I’m the type that is convinced if he can be at a 7 with the little he does…that he could be way better if he tried harder. It seems like he doesn’t get that the swings are bad even if the A1C is ok - and I don’t know if 7 is even good? Docs don’t seem to know a ton about diabetes - it’s so intertwined with other things.

And I get pissed…pissed when he can’t get over a virus or cold for 1 month because I’m convinced not regulating his blood sugar is a good part of it. Pissed when I come home and he’s bought pop tarts, popsicles and pudding from the store cause he doesn’t have much appetite.

Selfishly I worry about him not being able to work as long as we planned, him not being healthy, how that will affect his life, my life, our sons lives, our free time, our quality of life as a family, our financial security…plans for college funds and if my sons will be at higher risk.

I’m so sorry for all this ranting. It’s been a long lonely 5 years. I know - NO ONE else who is diabetic or has a diabetic partner. I have no one to talk to.

Sincerely yours, confused and totally helpless.

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First, you’ve come to the rights place @Frenchie. You are not alone here and will find many people who will listen and offer advice. I’m so glad you decided to write.

Your story is difficult. In some ways, it describes my experience (though without the physical defects). My Type 2 diagnosis caught me by surprise - I was in “good shape” and had a “good diet” and felt great at the time. I went straight to meds, then shortly thereafter to insulin to manage my blood glucose (BG).

My approach was the opposite of your husband’s – I wanted information and sought it out everywhere I could, I refused to test my BG at first, but eventually have in - and even take insulin now, despite my fear of needles…

I don’t have a lot of good advice to offer. Managing diabetes is your husband’s challenge and only he can do it. It’s challenging and it’s very traumatic to have to change “good habits” (or comfortable habits) that have suddenly become hazardous. I still cling to certain indulgences, though I work very hard to keep my sugars under control. My A1c is in the low 5’s (last one 5.4).

I agree that the medical community is lacking in knowledge, so the better control attainable, the better the outcome will likely be - no guarantees. Your husband has additional issues with high blood pressure and GERD and insomnia - none of which help and all of which could be related to the diabetes. I do not have those issues.

I personally try and keep my breakfasts as low-carb as I can. Starting the day off with a lot of carbs seems to set me up for failure the rest of the day most of the time – unless I have a lot of exercise (long bike ride, etc.) planned that day. Everyone is different, but I can’t manage a satisfying amount of oatmeal without a big spike, for instance.

In the end, only your husband can make the necessary decisions to manage his diabetes. You can offer support, prepare healthy meals and try and maintain balance, but he has to take the necessary steps for success.

Good luck – hopefully others will have more useful advice.

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everthing, thas says, is so helpful,.

but you came to the rights place, you will find so many people, who are helpful, & offer advice, welcome,.

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From reading your excellent post, it seems your fellow has motivation issues.

I remember an old diabetic friend who was blind and had purple feet. His story motivates me.

He was blind because the extra sugar clogged the tiniest blood vessels in his eyes till he was blind. His feet were purple because the rampant sugar destroyed the circulation in his feet.

I try to work on my diabetes, so that I do not receive the same consequences as my friend He has since died, but he helps me still.

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Unless and until your husband accepts full responsibility for his health, there’s not too much you can do to materially affect the trajectory he is on. When I was diagnosed with type I diabetes, I was eating Sugar Pops, bananas, and milk for breakfast.

People would much rather change their religion than their preferred way of eating. I tried to change incrementally by eating shredded wheat cereal (no added sugar) bananas, and milk. This went on for weeks until I decided to check my blood sugar a few hours after breakfast. It was over 300 mg/dl. (That’s very high, in case you’re not familiar with the numbers.)

This is a very tough nut to crack. How do you motivate someone to take care of their heath when they cannot even see the harm they’re currently doing. Denial is a very useful coping mechanism that can be hung onto for years. In the meantime, the high blood sugar damage is cumulative. It affects every tissue in the body.

If you come on very strong and determined, he may try and change his ways to satisfy you. And that will likely lead to him resenting you. Any change has to start with a spark from within him. I’m sorry I don’t have much practical to offer you. Perhaps you should talk to a professional counselor to help you deal with your emotions about the choices your husband is making. Kind of like Al-Anon.

There is no guarantee that your husband’s high blood glucose will do him harm. It jacks up the risk but does not guarantee. Some diabetic’s with excellent control come down with complications and some with very poor control never have a complication. The stakes are high. Diabetes complications should put the fear into the heart of almost anyone. But motivating from that is not a sure thing.

I wish you well. You have a difficult path.

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I’m t2. Have been for 10 years now. I have good and bad days in this fight. I see food as the enemy most days. It’s a tiring battle. When stressed out, a person doesn’t want low carb meals to make them feel better. This runs in my family from my dads side. I hear what your saying. My wife on the other hand, has no diabetes in her family. She isn’t used to reading labels for carbs and fiber.she try’s to help as she knows how. You are trying to support your spouse in every way. Only he can fight this fight. I find daily exercise , even 20 minutes of brisk walking helps. Also resistance training.
I was happy to find this site. It brings encouragement to me daily. Thanks for sharing your story.

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I really appreciate your reply and I know you’re right - you’re all right, it’s totally in his hands.

The hard part for me is that the oatmeal he’s eating is within the range of carbs he was allowed - it’s under…but he doesn’t test often so who knows if it’s ok for him or not?

I also struggle because it is in his hands…but if he becomes disabled or can’t participate in our family as often and as a partner because he’s ill …off work…medical bills…all of these things directly affect me.

He’s never been one to turn a blind eye. And I think most meals he eats are well under the carbs he can - but then sometimes he seems to think he can eat great 80% of the time and horrible 20% of the time and that’s ok…which it was when he wasn’t diabetic and crazy active…but now that he’s diabetic that’s really not ok. He’s on his feet most of the day and he also lifts and works out several times a week.

I’m trying so hard to not come on strong…but when he’s ill it often comes on because he seems to do worse and I wonder how much of his illness can be from diabetes.

That’s the hard part - you don’t know where to attribute things like carpal tunnel, GERD, higher blood pressure, etc…is it genetics, diabetes, age???

I appreciated hearing that some people suffer complications even if they’re managed…it’s true and it sucks!

And I have no idea if an A1C of 7 means he’s doing ok - in spite of some of the eating I know has to be causing spikes. I would assume some spikes are to be expected to have balance and joy in your life…his doctor seems to think 7 is ok - that’s the “goal” for diabetes, but is that really good? Doesn’t he want better for himself?

I can see the veins in the back of his legs…he’s worked out like crazy for decades and he eats lower carb than he was told most of the time…but the cheating that I see seems too often and he seems to be flying blind somewhat.

I eat healthy most of the time and do several hours of cardio a week. I’m at a healthy weight and I’m not ridiculous but I eat balanced. I eat cake and brownies sometimes but I cook stuffed Zucchini and Spaghetti Squash and Tempeh all all kinds of things that are lower carb and higher protein from lean or plant based arenas. We eat white carbs not often…I love pasta but limit it to once a week or so. So this is really hard for me, and it sucks that I feel like I know more about fiber, carbs and protein than the average person - and so does he, but he blantantly disregards it more often than I think he should. I think cheating on a date night, or a birthday or having a cheat day a week is more than fine - I’m not rigid…but he’s doing more than that:( And it’s not my call. If it were I am convinced that I could have him in the low 5s like you Thas. I am jealous of spouses of people who take it seriously. If he did I could be so less resentful and worrisome and be more caring and sympathetic. His management of it really robs him of sympathy from me. It’s hard to feel bad for him when he’s got a cold or virus that’s taking him down when I come home to find he’s eaten 2 packages of pop tarts that day - how is that going to help? And not that I don’t succumb to comfort eating - and not that it isn’t fair that he should feel he can’t…it’s really just a bermuda triangle of unfairness.

His 70 year old mother who smokes, drinks Coke and eats cookies daily doesn’t have diabetes…but he who is on his feet, eats good more than half the time and works out does! Totally sucks!

There is such a lack of knowledge, and so many things tailored to each person and many other things within each person that affect their diabetes…on top of that it’s not my body…and his approach is much different than mine is. It’s soooo frustrating. it’s been so many years and I just hope that I’m doing the right thing and that eventually he comes around before it’s too late. Or maybe 7 is good(?!?) and he won’t have huge complications…don’t I wish I knew that now - I could save myself a ton of wasted time thinking about this.

You’ve all been so helpful.

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So much is written about Type 2 diabetes being brought on by obesity and bad habits, but the reality is often quite different. As I said earlier, I was “doing everything right” and here I am, anyway. It really isn’t a matter of fairness - no illness is fair - but so many factors that play intro it, mostly genetics and other things outside of our control.

As to being good 80% of the time and “cheating” 20% - that might not be a terrible thing. If the “good” is really good, there’s probably no need for perfection. In fact, Dr. Jody Stanislaw who has been interviewed here several times promotes such an idea. (You can watch one of her interviews here: http://www.tudiabetes.org/video/tudiabetes-live-interview-with-dr-jody-stanislaw-the-naturopathic-approach-to-diabetes/).

Again, good luck to you. Hopefully he will come to grips with things and be more involved in his diabetes management.

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If you could get him to adopt one thing and one thing only for you, I would suggest that he check his blood glucose two hours after a few of his meals, including his cheats, at least three times per week. That seems like a reasonable request. At least then you will know he’s consciously aware of the blood sugar cost to his preferred way of eating. If he agrees to do this, I would never press him to reveal any of his numbers to you unless he wants to. That way you don’t become the heavy.

Many people here subscribe to the notion of “eat to your meter.” In other words let your meter be your guide. It’s sensible and flexible to the unique metabolism everyone has. Perhaps he will become motivated once he sees the cause and effect connection between eating and blood glucose levels. And not just the meals that fail, he may be pleasantly surprised that some of his favorite foods do not skyrocket his blood sugar.

Just a thought.

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I love this idea. Especially making sure he knows he doesn’t have to share it with me.

I know that he and I know enough about carbs to know what a high and low carb meal or snack is. And i didn’t know that some people metabolize starches differently.

If he owns his cheats - and checks and it’s his business that would be awesome. I am going to suggest that.

I just might have to count out carbs at dinner, make a plate for him and then if he chooses to eat more that’s on him I guess. And if he wants to see how his body handles pasta versus brown rice he’ll know he can tell me and I can always buy quinoa pasta or whatnot if it works better.

He really likes having something sweet at the end of the night and i can find lower sugar ways to do that - I used to make a mousse with pudding mix and greek yogurt and it was amazing and chock full of protein.

Great suggestion Terry.

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@Frenchie Hi Frenchie. Happy Sunday. For the purposes of self-disclosure, I do not have diabetes. I am a CDE and my academic training focused on behavior change. Professionally, I am an adjunct associate professor at a medical school and I each pre-med students how to facilitate behavior change as it pertains to chronic illness in underserved populations which include diabetes. I do some other stuff to but it isn’t relevant for the purpose of this conversation…

Let me start off by saying (in all due respect), we can’t change people. People must be motivated to change. People must have the (D)esire, the (A)bility, the ®eason and the (N)eed to change.

The desire, ability, reason and need to change are all connected to (what we call in the world of behavior change) universal needs.

If you have time look up Maslow’s Hierarchy of Universal needs. Although there is a bit of criticism concerning the theory, I believe you’ll get the gist.

Most people know what they WANT but don’t know what they NEED. Often these needs masquerade as STRATEGIES. For example. I NEED another pair of red shoes. Most folks don’t need another pair of red shoes. What the person is articulating is strategy to fulfill a want. It is different is the person says, “I need to take my insulin.” Insulin is a need–a physiological need that fulfills a fundamental need of wanting to be alive and healthy. Everybody not only NEEDS insulin but WANTS and desires that it fulfill it’s role from a physiological perspective.

I say all of this to say, listen carefully to your husband to find out what he WANTS and when you determine what he WANTS OR DESIRES, ask him, “When you get what you want, what NEED does it fulfill?” Once you identify the NEED, you can ask questions like "what are you able/willing to do to fulfill that need? What is the reason you ________ need to be fulfilled? From there you can help him set small goals that help him build confidence that he has what it takes to adopt and sustain the behaviors associated with successfully managing his diabetes.

If he expresses what the need is, continue to be as supportive as you have been so that he takes full ownership of his condition.

I wish you all the best and I hope this has been helpful to you.

Jo

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Yes!..Increase testing moments and you learn a lot very fast…These posts are all good support for you. @Terry4 may offer a very good starting point. You build awareness to help him get that A1c lower. But as has been said, he has got to find a personal motivation. As a dancer–it was fear of losing my feet to complications. Is there a specific complication that could provide motivation? I know, fear may not be the most peaceful motivator, but it sounds like you may need to resort to that…

There are also many, many fantastic substitutions and adaptations of recipes that provide lower carb versions of everything we Foodies love. And you’ll find that all family members will probably also be satisfied—sugar substitutes, nut flours, etc!..

Your concern and caring is beautiful. Keep trying, but remember to take care of yourself!..Blessings…

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@Judith_InPortand Thank you for your expressions. I thought I might share from a universal needs based perspective fear of losing autonomy was a huge motivator. Not that I am trying to analyze your experience, however, from a helping perspective when we understand what universal need anyone person is trying to fulfill, it becomes easier for them to be motivated.

Thanks for your post.

Best,

Jo

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@Judith_in_Portland :smiley:

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