In His Shoes
Diabetes is no picnic for anyone, but I wouldn't trade my type 2 for my husband's type 1.
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
May 2010 — Shaky, dizzy, disoriented – somehow I manage to find my way to a chair in a large yet empty cafeteria. A friend, a blast from the past, suddenly appears to help me test my blood sugar. 42 mg/dl (2.33 mmol/l) - my first true low blood sugar since starting insulin following another surgery that left me producing very little of my own insulin.
The same friend finds orange juice and a package of those small chocolate chip cookies. I eat and drink; eat and drink some more. The room stops spinning and I am able to stand up straight.
I wake up in a sweat. It was all a dream - for now. It threw me for a loop, though. I have never feared using insulin to control my type 2 diabetes, now suddenly I was thrown into complete aversion for the rest of that sleepless night.
Dreams are one thing; reality is another. I could never truly claim to know what my husband or my many friends of the online diabetes community go through day in and day out with type 1 diabetes. Even if I were to require insulin, those with type 2 diabetes rarely experience the severe hypoglycemia that those with type 1 do. (Or so they say, something to do with the body's own glucagon response still in good working order.)
Severe hyperglycemia has rarely touched me either. If I experience a significant blood sugar spike following a meal, it doesn't often reach 200 mg/dl (11.1 mmol/l) and has never reached 300 mg/dl (16.6 mmol/l). Sometimes I may drink a ton of water to cure a dry mouth followed by the powerful urge to urinate as soon as possible, but nothing like the symptoms that plague my husband upon much higher numbers. And absolutely nothing like the frustration that may show in his eyes and on his face upon soaring blood sugars that happen for no apparent reason.
I only see what happens on the outside during blood sugar swings, what looks like panic and desperation and anger. I only know what help he needs from me in these situations – some food or drink that contains fast-acting carbohydrates for hypoglycemia or a just shoulder to lean on when hyperglycemia hits.
I only know the role that friend played in my dream as well as in reality years ago. You see, this same friend who appeared in my dream a few nights ago just happened to help my husband with hypoglycemia a time or two many years ago.
As his wise mother wrote upon reading a brief description of my dream, we cannot truly experience someone else's reality unless we are truly living it. This can hold true between two people with type 1, two people with type 2, and two people like us living in a dual diabetes household. I simply cannot step inside the shoes meant only for the reality of my husband's type 1 diabetes and he cannot step inside the shoes meant only for the reality that is my type 2 diabetes.
Besides, his feet are just way too big to fit in my shoes…
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dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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