It’s mine, and I’m not sharing
When we ask people for their impressions of the Diabetes Online Community, there are certain phrases that come up all the time: Emotional and moral support. They understand me. Learning new techniques. Knowing that’m not alone.
For the most part, I agree with those — but there is something about that last one, the feeling-alone one, that the DOC has a way of reinforcing. Something that makes my diabetes, or more accurately: my life with diabetes, different than everyone else’s.
(No, it has nothing to do with the fact that I don’t have cats, don’t want cats, and don’t particularly like cats, though that is also a difference that I notice all the time).
I consider myself a family guy. I enjoy the company of my wife and kids, and I would do pretty much anything for them – as I expect they would for me. I’ll change my son’s dirty diaper. I’ll buy tampons at the pharmacy. There was never any conscious decision about it; it’s just what families do for each other.
When it comes to my diabetes care though, it’s all mine and nobody else’s. I treat all my own low (or high) blood sugars, I manage all my own prescriptions*, and I make all my own treatment decisions. The decision to give an insulin pump a try in 2006 was mine and mine alone. The choice to begin a CGM in 2011 was also mine.
* My insurance coverage is courtesy of my wife’s employer, so I will yield some credit for that.
When I wake up in the middle of the night with a blood sugar of 45, I reach to my nightstand on my side of the bed and reach for my bottle of glucose tablets, which I purchased during my trip to the store.
Oftentimes I read about relationships where the spouse will spring out of bed and fetch a juice-box for the hypoglycemic sleeper. Or where families sit down together and discuss their blood sugars, lab results, or meal choices.
My wife knows that there’s a test they have to see how I’ve been doing lately (“That A-C-three thingy?“). She knows what types of food work well for me and which are more challenging. She knows how I feel about “specially-prepared desserts”, as we immediately and instinctively roll our eyes in sync when they are proudly presented.
Although she doesn’t know how to check it, she knows what a good blood sugar is. In fact, in the early days of our relationship, we were presented with a Newlywed-Game-like question which asked what three-word phrase she said to me the most often. (Answer: “How’s your sugar?“).
But when it comes to the specifics, she’s an outside observer. She doesn’t know about the operation of the pump or how the pieces fit together. She doesn’t know what kind of insulin I use or what it means to “bolus”. She hasn’t a clue what my carb ratio is or how many units of insulin I use in a day.
I like it that way. Many will disagree, and many will say that diabetes affects and involves the whole family. If it doesn’t, you’re doing it wrong. But I believe I’m doing fine on my own, thankyouverymuch. I also believe I’m alone in thinking this way.
Perhaps it’s a manifestation of the shy, private side of my personality. Maybe it’s because I feel an obligation, as the man of the family, to protect them from the burdens of diabetes, as well as other aspects of life.
Or maybe I’m over-analyzing this. Maybe it’s just because I know that my diabetes is mine. It’s been a part of my life longer than my wife and kids have. It’s my body, my life, and my responsibility.
I know my wife would do anything I asked to help me, and I love her tremendously for that. I also love her for letting me take control of this by myself, and knowing exactly how, and how much, to get involved.
Yet, I feel this relationship is far from typical. Am I the only one?