A blood sugar reading of 380 is not what I planned to see before lunch. I had been watching my sensor all morning and it was holding steady under 200, so a reading over 300 was a shock and instantly launched me into a furious frenzy.
Unfortunately, my children and my husband usually take the brunt of this storm and this was a prime example. I stomped around the house, threw things on the counter, slammed doors, and basically made as much noise as humanly possible.
Finally, I announced, “I’m taking the dog for a walk!”
As I walked out the door I said “I’ll be back!”
The response from my husband at the kitchen table was “Good! Get out of here!”
Before you think that my husband is completely uncaring and horrible at caring for his diabetic wife, let me explain.
Life With A Realist
My husband is what I would classify as a realist. For a long time he would use the phrase “it is what it is” so often I began to question his ability to give me any other form of advice. His realism has always served as my speed bump on the road to full blown overreaction and I would say that has been his greatest role in helping me through my diabetic journey.
Why? Because he knows exactly what I truly need. When my anxiety, worries and doubts reach mach speed I do not want a hug. I feel like I could fight a bear with one hand while lifting a car over my head with the other. Please don’t give me a hug!!
What I need is someone to jolt me out of the world of fear and doubt I have created and into the present moment. This needs to be done efficiently and effectively because Tim knows that if my spiraling continues I will inevitability haul out the ever popular, “This disease is going to get me. I’m not doing enough, I can’t control it and it’s going to kill me.” Morbid and irrational right?
As I type this I am amazed at my own ability to free fall into the dramatic, but in the heat of the moment it feels so right to just jump into that pool of emotion and splash around.
My Emotional Wall
In these moments he does not play the role of a sweet gentle man who covers me with a soft blankie and whispers “I will make it all better.”
In our house when my load of diabetes crazy is in the spin cycle, and I’m spewing random blood sugar readings, insulin dose amounts, and threatening my insulin pump with physical harm, my 215lb, all muscle husband booms in his low voice “Enough! You’ve been here before, in a day or two you always figure it out! Call your doctor if it doesn’t work, but right now you are doing your best! Relax! Oh, and did you change your pump site?” (For the record, he admits that “change your pump site” is the highest level of medical advice he has to give.)
His response is all part of an unwritten method we have developed to bring me back into the moment and out of my head. Hearing my thoughts out loud is the first step, as my thoughts become words rather than emotions.
Next, I need these words to smash into the big, loud wall of my husband where they instantly crash to the floor and look tiny and defeated as I begin to come back to the moment.
Only then can we have an actual conversation where I can tell him what is really happening, he can really listen, and together we can discuss a solution. Oh and yes, once I no longer resemble a cactus he does offer a hug or even more importantly he makes me laugh.
I am not saying this is the best method for every diabetic. The dance we do in our house when my sugars go crazy is unique to us and most certainly is not one size fits all situations.
When I am having a low in the middle of the night it is my husband who stumbles into the kitchen to find me a juice box and then stays awake with me until I feel better. When an infusion site bleeds he is the one who runs into the kitchen and instinctively grabs paper towel. He works his tail off every day which ensures that we have excellent (albeit, expensive) health insurance and he has never once made me feel guilty for the huge amount of money required to keep me alive every day. He is also the one that can perfectly imitate my pump alarms and tastes all my root beer to ensure it is in fact diet. Our wedding vows never mentioned the lifeline he would become over the last 14 years.
Help Others Help
When dealing with something that you know will inevitably come with a fair share of frustrations it is so important to tell those closest to you what you really need from them. They may be walking this path alongside you but they don’t truly know what it means to be in your shoes.
Most times, the ones we love are merely trying their best to help in the best way they know how, but sometimes this form of help is not what we really need. Sometimes we need to be alone, to scream, to get outside, or take a walk, and it is our responsibility to communicate these needs to others.
Assuming that our friends and families can read our minds is unfair and we are setting the stage for more frustration.
Even if it is a very brief discussion, telling your friends and family what you really need in moments of frustration can open volumes of understanding. You can lay the groundwork for getting the support you truly need while allowing your friends and family to feel helpful. Most importantly you lessen the chance of the people closest to you getting caught in the crossfire.
Living with a chronic condition is a family affair. I cannot shield my kids from the things that I deal with on a daily basis but I can talk to them. I can use my experiences to give them tools to deal with their frustrations. I can show them that it is ok to get upset but it is equally important to work through it and talk about it when the storm is over.
I am so thankful every day for a family that supports me regardless of the insulin pump alarms, the low blood sugar food demands, and my inevitable moments of pure frustration. They are there to celebrate the successes and they are there to listen when I feel buried. I could not imagine walking this path without their support.
Help others help you because we are not meant to walk the path of life alone.