How can I cope with my partner's diabetes?

Coping with news that someone you love has type 2 diabetes can be difficult, especially if you are this person's caregiver. Your loved one will likely go through some of the normal stages of grief after receiving a diabetes diagnosis: denial, guilt, anger and acceptance. It may be a long time before they get to this last stage, but take comfort in knowing that it will come.

If the person you are caring for expresses denial about their state of health, you may want to give him or her some time to adjust. Denying that something is wrong may be his or her way of protecting him- or herself from the bad news. However, if denial leads your loved one to continue a lifestyle that may exacerbate his or her blood sugar disorder, it may be time to step in and offer some stern yet supportive guidance. Feel free to contact your loved one's healthcare provider for advice or assistance.

When feelings of guilt or anger arise, you should be there to provide comfort and let the person know that you are there to help him or her make the necessary adjustments. Diabetes is a chronic yet manageable disease. Often, a change of perspective can help people accept their condition and deal with it.

In fact, sometimes it helps to make light of the situation. Joking and laughing are great for the mind and body, so try not to let the mood get too heavy. Consider keeping DVDs of favorite movies around for some comic relief when needed.

Most importantly, you will need to encourage the person with diabetes to live a healthy lifestyle. This means restricting sweets and other unhealthy foods, as well as encouraging regular exercise and medical visits. Blood glucose testing will become a regular part of the person's daily routine, so be sure to speak with your loved one's healthcare provider about the best way to conduct these and what to do if a reading is too high or too low.

Mr. Eliot LeBow, CDE, LCSW

When a diabetic is involved in a relationship, the focus can become the diabetes. It affects the diabetic partner’s behavior and mood and, at times, things can get very intense between the couple. This same behavior can also affect the entire family, close friends and even coworkers.

Low, fluctuating and high blood sugars are not intentional. They are more akin to stubbing your toe on the corner of a table. An accident! They are the result of an uncontrollable variable that the person/diabetic didn’t see, causing sugars to be at one level or another and out of control.

Every day, every moment, every second is different than the last. The diabetic never knows when it may happen, just like stubbing your toe. You do your best to control it, but it still happens.

Low, fluctuating and high blood sugars are part of even a very stable and well-controlled diabetic’s daily life. They are part of the package and come with the person you love.

If they could, you, your husband or wife would make everything that goes with diabetes—feeling ill often, sudden visits to the hospitals, turning around because they forgot to bring the shot/meter/Glucophage injection, the depression from the highs, the distracted moments of the lows and a lot more BS than you could ever imagine—just go away.

So you have a choice: You can let the diabetes destroy a perfectly good and loving relationship or you can get help.

You can accept the diabetes with patience or fight the reality that your husband or wife is a diabetic and that plans will always be subject to change. This fight will cause continued frustration and anger. If you fight the reality, diabetes will become the elephant in the room and you both will lose.

For right now, let me offer a pointer and a simple change that may be very hard for many people. It takes a lot of practice to do but it can make a world of difference.

When something happens with a diabetic that changes your plans, whether it is a sudden trip to the hospital or just taking a few moments to sit on a bench while your diabetic friend or significant other tests his/her blood sugar and then rests while recovering from low blood sugar, don’t get frustrated. Be patient.

This stuff happens all the time. No matter how in control of your blood sugar you are or your significant other is, these things will happen and they’ll continue to happen.

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Important: This content reflects information from various individuals and organizations and may offer alternative or opposing points of view. It should not be used for medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. As always, you should consult with your healthcare provider about your specific health needs.