Before I met Chris, I didn’t know much about T1D. Taking it a step beyond that, I was terrified of needles and would sometimes even pass out if I had to get one. I was one of those people who had to look away when someone on TV was getting an injection. Imagine my surprise when I met and fell in love with a person who lives with Type 1 diabetes; someone for whom injections, finger pokes, and site insertions are a daily occurrence.
I’ve learned a lot about T1D in the past 6 years, but I still sometimes struggle with how to best support my husband through the daily challenges of living with diabetes. I realize this is a luxury he, and all of our friends living with T1D, will never have, but some days I forget that he has it. Knowing that he’s been living with diabetes for over 25 years, I sometimes assume that he doesn’t want or need my help to manage his diabetes. Recently, I discovered that I was a bit off-track with this thinking. Shortly after ringing in 2020, we had some friends over for dinner. Our friend Julia started eating her dinner, and her partner asked her if she had bolused yet. Chris shot me a look, and asked me why I never remind him to bolus. I told him that I didn’t want to be a nagging wife, and that I assumed he had things under control on his own. His response was that he’d actually really appreciate the extra support and reminders, because sometimes he gets side-tracked (especially when we’re trying to feed our two little girls at the same time!), forgets to bolus, and is stuck dealing with the consequences all night long. I resolved in that moment to make a more concerted effort to give friendly bolus reminders when I think of it. I might not remember every time, but I learned that day that helping to carry some of that mental load might lighten my partner’s pack!
It’s not always easy. As anyone who lives with a person living with T1D knows, there are times when high blood sugars might cause our loved one to snap at us for no reason. It stings sometimes. It’s hard not to feel hurt, not to be frustrated when plans get interrupted by a bad low or a stubborn high. In those moments, I try to remind myself of what he’s dealing with, that whole extra set of responsibilities most of us don’t even have to think about, and find ways to help him, to help us, move forward with our day.
What else can partners of T1D do?
I might not have all the answers, but here are some of the ways I offer my support:
- Help to remember test kit/low supplies (I even carry some emergency supplies with me in my purse, and stash some in my car)
- Tag in on driving or taking care of our kids if he has a low and needs some time to come up
- Help to educate misconceptions about T1D I hear in my daily life (e.g., “Oh, Chris probably can’t eat stuff like this… it has too much sugar”)
- Jump in and join adventures and programs with ICD!
Do you wish someone in your circle would do more to help you with your diabetes? Do you wish they supported you differently? Open up the lines of discussion and let them know how they can help; they might not know the difference they can make for you – I didn’t! – Angie Jarvis