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December 21, 2000


Question from El Paso, Texas, USA:

My husband has diabetes and drinks a six-twelve pack of beer every day. Sometimes, after drinking a twelve pack, he spends the next day lay around with little or no energy. His sight is failing and he has infections and pain in his genital area. He refuses to go back to the doctor. His kidneys and liver were functioning at about 50% five years ago. His regular doctor recommended that he see an gastroenterologist, but he refuses to go. The doctor told my husband that he needs to get under control. My husband also has very sugar/fruity breath. How can a lay person tell how bad his condition is and what to expect? I can’t get any information from my husband’s doctor because of confidentiality issues.


From: DTeam Staff

I would urge you to have your husband get medical attention as soon as possible. You have highlighted those pieces of history and symptoms which are quite bothersome. Although it is not clear whether your husband has type�1 or type�2 diabetes, it is important for him to stop drinking. If he has type 1 diabetes, an interruption in his insulin therapy could result in diabetic ketoacidosis. This is made worse by the alcohol because the alcohol can cause a form of ketoacidosis and impair his ability for self-care. If he has type 2 diabetes, there are a number of problems associated with taking oral medications for diabetes and alcohol at the same time.


[Editor’s comment: Your husband clearly has alcoholism (based on his refusal to stop drinking despite health problems that can be traced to the use of alcohol), and is probably very depressed. He needs to see more than one specialist, and soon.

And you have to start attending Al-Anon meetings, starting immediately. Look in the phone book under AA. Also check out: How It Works – Alcoholics Anonymous.