Doubling the Challenge
By Rachel Baumgartel
Neither of us expected he would have a hypoglycemic reaction leading to a seizure in the middle of a grocery store, despite his nearly 20-year history with type 1 diabetes.
Neither of us expected I would be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes shortly before my twenty-ninth birthday.
But there we were.
In the early years of our relationship, Greg’s diabetes was not an issue we often talked about. Insulin injections and blood sugar testing were routine to him by then and they quickly became routine to me. Greg was in good control, with A1c tests consistently returning results of under 7.0%. He only needed my assistance with “bad” lows a handful of times, so I didn’t think twice about traveling for work or visiting my family for a weekend by myself.
After Greg’s seizure eight years into our relationship, I realized I needed to be less passive when it came to his health. The idea of leaving for a weekend worried me; what if another debilitating low hit while he was home alone?
Four months later, I received my type 2 diagnosis, thanks to a body mass index (BMI) indicating borderline obesity. I was at least thirty years younger than anyone in my family history, which was full of type 2. Though it was not surprising – I had been told that I was insulin resistant only four years earlier. Back then, I ate better and exercised to lose the necessary weight for several months. After awhile, the good habits stopped and the bad ones began again in the year leading up to my diagnosis.
The night I was diagnosed, Greg’s infectious sense of humor lightened the conversation. He told our cats that they had better not develop diabetes because there was already enough of it in the house.
It is that sense of humor that helps us through the darker days – when blood sugars run high and motivation to exercise runs low. We know the differences between type 1 and type 2 all too well, but we face the same uncertain future. Will changes in Greg’s insulin regimen be enough to lower his A1C to pre-seizure levels…and will it be enough to avoid complications? Is diet and exercise the right prescription for me …and is it enough to avoid complications? See, we need Greg’s sense of humor when the going gets rough.
We also need each other. Without Greg’s encouragement, I’m not sure I would have been strong enough to limit my food portions or walk 28 miles in two days for charity. Without my encouragement, he might still be afraid of hypoglycemia and not exercise at all.
If we had the chance to take diabetes out of our relationship, we would. There’s no doubt about that. But it is here to stay with all of its frustrations, whether we like it or not. We might as well support each other through encouragement and laughter.
dLife's Daily Living columnists are not medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team to find out what will work best for you.
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