Hello Partners and Loved Ones of Us PWDs (People with Diabetes),
Welcome back to the Diabetic Partner Follies, a series of guest posts about the challenges of living beside someone affected by diabetes. This edition came to me in the form of a long, heartfelt email from a woman in one of the most difficult positions, I imagine -- stuck between a rock and a hard place. Please read:
Hi there. I am pretty new to all this, but I just found this site and think that I may find the help I need if I tell you about my story.
First off, my long-time boyfriend (BF) was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes about 4 weeks ago. Since then I have done all kinds of research and probably know the disease as well as a doctor. My problem lies in that the only info that my BF knows is what myself and his doctor has told him, and I'm not too sure I trust the doctor as his readings are barely on the level of actually having the disease and before the Dr. prescribed diet and exercise, he prescribed pills (which gave my friend constipation and when the more stressed he gets the more backed up he gets, which is why he went to this Dr. the first time around a couple years ago and never solved his problem.)
Oh, and the Dr. tried to get him to go to a dietitian and my BF said no thank you. He didn't realize the insurance would most likely pay for it, but for the most part I think that he realized I'd be here to hand a plate of food paid for/prepared to his needs and he'd have to do no work on his own. (He really is lazy which is part of the issue to begin with. Easier to pick up a phone and write a check than go to the store, analyze it, buy it, prepare it, etc...)
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The most daily exercise he ever got was going up the stairs to his department at work once they moved about 5 years ago. Until then, he rode his bike to work. Once they moved the only exercise is the stairs. He is a graphic artist and a computer geek (by the way he's 45) so he sits at a computer at work and at home (and I've adopted those ways as I do payables and receivables and reception work and become a computer geek because of him). Before I moved here I was a dancer and got great exercise.
Now, he wants to buy a treadmill and is upset that I said that it wasn't a great idea. Yeah, the other exercise equipment is finally in the shed after years of me cleaning it 'cause it sits and he piles stuff on it, and now he wants something that doesn't get used by anything other than the duster. If we're going to walk, why not in a place where you can see sky, and actually feel like your doing something? I truly believe if he does use it, it'll be a half-ass effort so he can watch a movie, TV, or something where he will only give it minimal effort.
I feel so stressed that I'm doing all his work and thinking and he's just following along. As his mom pointed out, to make me feel bad; I should do this for him because it could be life or death for him. How bout he do something for himself because it may him having a heart attack, stroke, amputation, etc.? But because his Dr. says he's doing great (thanks to me more than him), he's OK doing only as much as thinks he has to do. Then expects sympathy because he has this horrible disease.
I have done so much research, I do the grocery shopping and read the labels now, I have even lost 10 lbs myself because I think that if he needs to lose weight and exercise for his health, I might as well look hot in a bathing suit again while trying to help him (he's lost about 4 lbs). I have even been meeting up with a new friend at work to go walk at my level (very fast) during lunch so that I can get some benefit. Honestly, my back hurts when I go his level because my strides aren't big enough and my body knows it. He says it's as much as he can do (he doesn't have any trouble keeping up conversation which is indication of how well you are working to your optimal heart rate according to my research) -- and then he gets upset that I want to go so fast, yet he doesn't want to go on his own. So in order for me to get the health benefit of walking for my level I have to go 2 times a day so that I can make sure he gets his exercise in too. I call it my bonus walk. Real one at lunch, stroll to lose a few extra calories in the evening.
I am even considering going to a psychologist
because his disease has consumed me so much that I spend so much time doing
diabetes research, so much health, diet and exercise research for both of us,
that it is consuming all of my time. He has spent probably about an hour total
to understand and learn about what he has, and I have spent almost the last
month to help him and me do what we can to be healthy. I am about ready to tell
him to find a roommate that can better accommodate his needs because I can only
do so much and he thinks I am bitching at him, not helping him.
Is it wrong to be so obsessed about someone else's problem when they don't seem to care as much? Is it natural for a partner to make themselves sick worrying over the other when someone is first diagnosed and that partner is stressed but doesn't seem to think it's such a big deal? Does it say really bad things about me that I have to feel like I am handling all our health stresses on my own? I'd feel damn lucky to prick my finger 2 times a day and expect everyone else to help me make it read right.
My big question is, should I give it some time and let him realize how serious this could be before I end up with an eating disorder because he just doesn't want to spend the time helping me and I'm getting so obsessed with this? Or should I see someone now because I don't think he'll even think twice about it and I need my own sanity?
Just today, he thought he was doing really good by going to Jack in the Box and getting one of their fruit smoothies. When I opened my mouth and said it was probably full of sugar and carbs he said never mind and wouldn't continue on with what he was telling me because I opened my mouth with an opinion that was other than what he wanted to hear. He didn't even want to hear that something that sounded so healthy (based on a commercial, not research) might not be that way.
Do you have any suggestions for me? I really need help on getting him to figure out what he needs and letting me know those needs, instead of him relying on me to determine it for him. I really want to help, but I don't want to have to be his doctor and mother too. I want to be his girlfriend, not his 1950's wife and mother. I would very much appreciate it if you could help me save my sanity and his life.
Wow, TK, you must really care about this person to stand beside him while he's being so obstinate. The tough part is, motivation really does have to come from within the patient themselves. Any suggestions, Dear Readers?