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Type 1 Significant Other - Introduction

10938 Views 16 Replies 11 Participants Last post by  Anthill
Hello all! As the significant other of a type 1 diabetic, I am trying to learn all I can about the illness and what I can do to help her. She was diagnosed in her childhood and has been living with it for about 25 years now. I care for her very much but sometimes it can be very difficult to deal with. The testing, healthy eating, and all that stuff that goes into trying to manage he sugar level isn't what is hard, but the way she can change personality-wise during highs and lows. When she is high or low, she can get very angry, defensive, antagonistic, and down right mean, in addition to the common physical issues that come with the sharp changes in her sugar level. She literally just got a pump the other day, so we are hoping that will help her maintain more stable levels and in turn a more stable state of mind.

This is just very hard because I love her very much, and when she gets into one of her extreme mood swings, I know she's not in her right mind and it is the illness talking. But still, it can be hurtful and hard to take when she is being aggressive or mean (this usually comes with the highs), and just as hard when she becomes suddenly saddened and intensely depressed because of it (usually with the lows). In both cases, she often has trouble remembering what happened. With the highs she will usually realize what had happened after I tell her what she did/said. With the lows it's like she blacks out mentally and doesn't remember, even when she doesn't physically lose control of her body.

I have been trying to find information to help me understand the psychological effects more, but am having a hard time finding it. I realize that not everyone who has type 1 goes through as intense mood swings, but I know she's not the only one. Anyway, if anyone has been in a similar situation or knows of any literature on the psychological effects of diabetes, I would greatly appreciate it!

I hope I have made sense in my explanations of the situation, if you want more clarity please ask because I would like to be better able to help and understand her.
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the pump should help. I hope so because if these highs and lows are regular occurrences that is not good for her future outlook. How often is this happening?
It's definitely a frequent occurrence. I've been encouraging her to keep better track of her levels and check them more frequently, but she is very annoyed and often feels defeated by the illness so it is difficult for her to stick to that, ya know?

In the past couple months, there have been at least three or four episodes where she was low enough to where I have almost called emergency services. Most recently I tried waking her up for work but she resisted and mumbled, I thought she was just tired and being stubborn. But then I realized that she wasn't responding to my "I love you"s and that sent me running for her meter and food. I can also tell she is high because she will start contacting me online or through text or phone call basically ranting about all sorts of things. The problem I face is that I am still learning about the disease and how she responds and copes with it.

I know one of the hardest parts for her is feeling like she is a burden on me, so sometimes it is almost worse when she comes out of an episode (either a high or a low) because she will feel guilty for either how she treated me during it, that I had to take care and help her during it, or both.
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The highs and lows could be controlled by tighter carb control in her diet. Is she willing to give that a try after a lifetime of being told she can eat whatever she wants if she just adjusts the insulin accordingly? That would be the most obvious thing, but likely it has NEVER been suggested to her by the professionals.

If she's not willing to do that, has she considered a diabetes service dog? These dogs can sense the changes in BG BEFORE the behavior changes, and it's harder to argue with a dog ;o) That may take some of the pressure off you so you can be a loving spouse instead of a constant caregiver.

You must be under constant pressure, even to the point of having to read and interpret her emails to try to discern what must be happening to her blood sugar. 24/7 is tough. My heart goes out to you.
Thanks for the advice! I'm trying to lead by example. I've been eating a diet with little carbs, more protein and fat rich foods prepared at home. Does anyone have any diabetes dietary cookbook recommendations? Maybe something that has some easy recipes for the day to day kind of meals? I figure if I eat in ways that would benefit her, she's more likely to take them up. Like when I quit smoking, she slowly followed suit (thank goodness) because we are together so much it was easier for her to quit since I wasn't doing it anymore.

I didn't know about service dogs, and while that is not financially/logistically feasible right now, that is definitely something to keep in mind moving forward!
Thanks for the links grammaB! I'm definitely going to peruse the recipes and diet subsections! And the diet doctor stuff seems like it can be helpful too, thanks so much! I know a lot of people think you can just "google" the answers for all of these questions, but it's so much more assuring to get feedback directly from people who deal with these issues on a daily basis.

Really appreciate everyone's feedback so far, and I welcome anymore that you may have to offer. :D
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There is a book called "Using Insulin" by John Walsh that is really helpful in determining the appropriate amount of both basal and bolus insulin. If the insulin to carb ratios are accurate, it should reduce the amount of highs and lows that your friend suffers.
Thanks, I'll definitely check that book out! Thank you everyone for all the words of encouragement and helpful tips, it really means a lot to me and makes me feel a lot better about everything.
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