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July 26, 1999

Behavior, Daily Care

Question from New Jersey, USA:

My fiance has had type 1 diabetes since age 4; he is now 36. He works a 7 day swing shift and often overtime. Because of this, he has no regular meal pattern and often only eats once a day. He smokes and has 2 or more beers a day. I think he uses the beer for quick carbs when he doesn't have time to eat. He's lived with diabetes for 32 years and has been to school for it also. We've only been together 8 months and this is all new to me but I've been reading a lot and studying hard on the subject. Right now I am very scared, he seemed fine and under control for the first 6 months, but the last 2 months his sugar seems to be bouncing around wildly. He's gone very low on a number of occasions, twice requiring paramedics. I'm after him constantly to eat more regularly, as I feel that's the main problem, but I know he knows how to regulate his insulin for what he plans on eating or not eating. Please send me your advice.

Answer:

My main suggestion is to offer support and understanding for your fiance. Diabetes can be a real challenge. Try not to nag or be overbearing, but also tell him that you love him and would like to be of help. Ask him how you could help. Could you go with him to his medical appointments or take a class on diabetes, or read an up-to-date reference on diabetes? Tell him you would like to learn how to help him when his blood sugar is low, etc.

Some people with diabetes are tired of “well-wishers” telling them what to do, being the “food police” with statements such as “Are you supposed to be eating that candy bar?” They may also be very hurt by previous medical and nursing professionals who may have approached them with a judgmental attitude or condescending attitude. He has had many years to get to the point he is at. A loving relationship can make all the difference for him.

LM