Diabetes affects the whole family, whether you’re a parent, sibling, child, grandchild, spouse or friend. This week on the blog, we are featuring stories about loving and caring for someone with diabetes.
Location: Port Angeles, Wash.
My husband, James, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when he was 23 and in the United States Coast Guard. This was a huge surprise to him and his family, as no one else had ever been diagnosed with diabetes. He felt the usual symptoms of extreme fatigue and thirst and knew he had to see a doctor when his eyesight began to blur, affecting his everyday tasks in the Coast Guard.
I have taken it upon myself to support him and learn everything I can about diabetes so that we can take care of him together. I want him to be around for our future. If we decide to have children later on, I want him here and healthy for his grandkids!
Here we are a year and a half later, and we are still learning so much! In the time since his diagnosis, I have attended countless classes and appointments—dietitian, endocrinologist, insulin pump educators, diabetes education courses, you name it. His doctors call me a “type 3” person with diabetes, or “guilty by association.”
We’ve have had an especially difficult time recently, as he finally got the call we have been waiting for since his diagnosis. James is going to be officially discharged from the Coast Guard because of his diabetes, which does not affect his job at all now that he is managing it. He has received great marks and has never been disciplined by his command. But although he can do his job better than most perfectly healthy people, the Coast Guard deems him unfit. This has been an extremely emotional struggle for both of us, but especially for James, who has to let go of his lifelong dream. (This Department of Defense policy affects all non-civilian positions in the military. James is considering seeking a waiver to remain in the Coast Guard with the guidance of the American Diabetes Association’s Legal Advocacy services.)
Our next steps will be figuring out where to go from here. James is going to fight for more benefits, but we’re concerned about how we are going to be able to afford all of his supplies and insulin. We’re hopeful that things will work out. We are both strong and will get through this together.
My biggest struggle as a caregiver has been helping him while at his lowest. Negative emotions have gotten the best of him sometimes. He is the strongest man I know, with so much perseverance, and it is very hard for me to see him down. As his wife I try to support him and do whatever I can to help, even if it is the smallest thing to make him smile.
The love and support that you can give to any person with diabetes is so important. They definitely cannot do it by themselves. It is your job as a caregiver to show them zero frustration with diabetes. Show the love!