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June 18, 2003

Other Illnesses

Question from Benzonia, Michigan, USA:

My husband, who has had diabetes for approximately 13 years, was first diagnosed with type 2, and since then they say it is type 1. They claim he got it due to stress since no one in his family has it to their knowledge. For about six years, he has had problems with amnesia which we first learned about it when he drove about 80 miles to my dad's without remembering it. When he realized this, he pulled over and got some assistance for directions. He went to the doctor who thought it was a mild case and wanted him to make sure he ate properly. He has been on a pretty good diet for all of these years, not perfect, and it was better in the beginning. Since then, the amnesia is getting worse. He argues a lot with me at this time, he is getting very sensitive, and he is starting to blame me for things. I know he doesn't mean what he says or does, but I am at a loss as to how to help him during this time. I can't get him to eat or drink without arguing, I try and leave him alone which I know that is wrong, but I don't know what to do. The spells seem to happen at no particular time. It can one to four hours after he eats or never. It doesn't matter what he eats either; an excellent meal or a bad meal, a meal with snacks in between, there is no rhyme or reason. He is on Humalog three times per day and NPH at night. His hemoglobin A1c levels are in the good range; only once has it been above 7%. I am looking for some help as to what we need to do. He has been through $4000 worth of medical tests, from heart to brain to physical. Can someone help us with knowing what we need to do? I am getting very frustrated and am afraid of what could happen.


Your husband’s condition has to be very concerning for both of you. I would say that his condition needs to be classified in terms of whether the symptoms are related to diabetes or to other non-diabetes problems. Diabetes problems also include low blood sugars. Has his blood sugar ever been checked when he has a spell? Insulin can induce lows when he doesn’t eat appropriately or on time.

If there is not any low blood sugar, I would suggest that he needs the aid of a neurologist to classify his condition. Does he have a form of dementia or other neurologic condition to explain his symptoms? I am afraid I cannot determine the cause of his problems as this is a rather complicated problem to work through. I would suggest you consult your husband’s physician and request consultation if the problem is not clear.