I Love Someone with Diabetes: Paul Bryant

Diabetes affects the whole family, whether you’re a parent, sibling, child, grandchild, spouse or friend. This week on the blog, we’ll be featuring stories about loving and caring for someone with diabetes.


Paul Bryant and fianceeName: Paul Bryant, age 36
Location: Nacogdoches, Texas

When I met my fiancée, Ericka, I had no idea she had type 1 diabetes—until one night on a date when she pulled out a syringe. When I asked what she was doing, she said, “I have diabetes. I’m sure I’ve told you.” She hadn’t, but it didn’t matter.

Ericka was diagnosed at four years old on Christmas Day 1996. As I watched her inject herself with insulin and explain how certain foods affect her blood glucose, I knew I needed to learn as much as possible about diabetes. Because of that I have become a true partner with Ericka in her fight against diabetes.

Several months later, we found out she was pregnant. That was a scary moment, as both Ericka’s mother and endocrinologist had warned her she could lose her life and the baby’s if she conceived. Both of them were wrong. Madison Leigh was born on Oct. 19, 2012. She was and still is a happy and healthy baby.

In the past, managing her diabetes was not one of Ericka’s priorities. After I proposed, I told her she needed to take better care of herself—if not for herself, then for me. Soon after, I started seeing an immediate difference in her blood glucose numbers. I still constantly reminded her to check her numbers, questioned her food choices depending on her readings and made sure she would not get too high or low at any given time. She started telling people my persistence regarding her health was making a difference in her life and that she was committed to doing better.

Stress is an area we’ve struggled to control, though. We’ve run the gamut of emotions and have faced many health challenges. Anxiety has significantly raised Ericka’s blood glucose and caused even more health problems at times, including dehydration that required more than one trip to the emergency room.

Right now, Ericka is a stay-at-home mom. After a couple of scares due to dangerously high and low blood glucose levels, I now insist on maintaining regular communication with her while I’m at work. Some might say she can take care of herself, but I feel it’s my responsibility as her caregiver to make sure she isn’t ignoring symptoms that could endanger her life.

Our lifestyles have changed drastically since Ericka’s engagement. I’ve faced fears of losing her, especially during a night in June when she nearly slipped into a coma. I’ve had to cope with insurance difficulties, multiple doctor appointments each month and making sincere efforts to learn and understand as much as I can about type 1 diabetes. Having said that, I have made a new commitment to live a healthy lifestyle myself, including a meal plan, daily exercise and a mental renewal to show Ericka I am there for her. We are in this together. We are a family, and anything good or bad that happens to her happens to me. Not to mention that we have a daughter now; Ericka not only lives for me, but also for Madison.

Your whole heart has to be in it while taking care of someone with diabetes. You truly have to care about your partner or loved one and be dedicated to learning about the disease. I tell other diabetes caregivers this: Be real in your journey. Give yourself to your loved one in their fight, and be prepared to make sacrifices.

Ericka has changed my life, and not just because of diabetes. The disease has made me a better man, but it does not define my fiancée and it does not define me.

Diabetes is a large part of our lives, though, and we accept it. We begin a new journey together on March 23, our wedding day.


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10 Responses to I Love Someone with Diabetes: Paul Bryant

  1. Ralene says:

    I’m happy for you. And love how you made an effort to learn all you can about Diabetes. I have an 8 year old grandson, who was diagnosed on Christmas when he was 6. A Christmas we’ll never foeget, but he is doing great now & seem’s to be more involved every day with helping us keep his numbers in range! Keep up the good work & God Bless.

  2. Signe says:

    Praying my 12 year old Grandson is always surrounded by friends, family and acquaintences who really care and support him and his disease. Love him so much and like the story says…We are family, and anything good or bad that happens to him happens to me also. Love you Zak!

  3. Brandi Diehl says:

    What a wonderful story. Ericka, you are a very lucky women to have such a great guy who cares so much. Paul, what an amazing person you are. I wish you both all the luck as you begin your lives together.

  4. Signe says:

    Praying my 12 year old Grandson is always surrounded by friends, family and acquaintences who really care and support him and his disease. Love him so much and like the story says…We are family, and anything good or bad that happens to him happens to me also. Love you to the moon and back, Zak!

  5. sylvia says:

    This is a beautiful story I’m soo happy for u guys I’m so scared to have a baby of my own right now its so nice to have someone like that 🙂 u guys are doing a great job keep it up 🙂

  6. Tracy Wallace says:

    Paul, you are a good man. I can tell you love Ericka very much. Being in love with someone who has Type 1 diabetes is sometimes a challenge, but I think it also brings you closer. I’ve been with my husband for almost 20 years, and he’s been diabetic about 40 years. In the beginning, I thought I knew a lot about diabetes. I found out I knew very little. Over the years, I’ve gotten to a point where I’ve learned a lot only to come upon a whole new area that I have to learn about. There’s a LOT to know. I’m heartened that your words to Ericka about taking care of herself – for both of you – worked. I’ve tried that and it hasn’t worked too well. It’s just hard but it does definitely take the commitment of both the diabetic and the spouse. I’ve found it’s easier for me to make better menu choices because it helps him too. Sacrifices yes, for sure, but very worth it. LOTS of doctor visits, but in the end, it IS manageable, you just have to keep on it. Best wishes to both of you for your wedding, and your life together. You sound like you’re a great couple!

  7. lucia says:

    My son has type 1 diabetes and all the family shares his care. He is a happy 7 years old boy

  8. Kit Finley says:

    Hmm…I do not agree with him taking on the role of being her ‘caregiver’ (unless the person is a child). She does need to be responsible for herself. By allowing him to take on that role, she avoids her responsibility and is putting an unnecessary burden on him. I alone am responsible for my asthma, not Gregg or Mom/Dad. However, that said I believe family members are part of the team and should be supportive and not make it more difficult for the one with a disease.

  9. Chris says:

    As I read your story it brought tears to my eyes because I remember those days when I first met my husband. I was 15 and he was 17. I’d heard he was diabetic but when I asked him he denied it and said it was his brother who did. (his brother actually did have it also) But as we got more serious the truth came out. We married when I was 18 and I’m now 53. 35 years of marriage and I’m still learning about diabetes. Every single day is different when living with a diabetic. We’ve had many frightening moments throughout the years and an ambulance has had to be called several times but for the most part he’s been a trooper. I’ve never really had anyone to talk to about being a caregiver of a diabetic and I wish I did. Someone who understands what I go through. It saddens me to hear of how many children are being diagnosed every day with type 1. I pray our grandchildren never get it. Way to go on educating yourself and helping your fiancé every day. You’re awesome. And thanks for sharing your story.

  10. Anonymous says:

    i am so very happy for you guysim only a kid and i was diagnosed when i was 9 years old so i know how hard it can be to always have to take a shot for everything u eat

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