Welcome back to our periodic Partner Follies series here at the 'Mine, in which we feature guest posts by spouses, romantic partners and loved ones about their POVs on diabetes. And as today's Valentine's Day, we thought it was a perfect time to share a very special story from our D-Community.
We're proud to welcome Mike Norton, who's married to well-known DOC friend Anna Norton who lives with type 1 and heads up DiabetesSisters. This Chicago-land couple's been together since 1993 and their son Patrick was born a decade ago in 2007.
While Anna leads the non-profit organization for women, Mike works as a government agency analyst, but of course he also helps out as a handyman, package-lifter, and facilitator at various diabetes events -- including this year's joint DiabetesSisters-Diabetes UnConference in the Washington D.C. area planned for October.
With that, please welcome Mike here at the 'Mine, as he shares their story.
Partner's POV from Type Awesome Hubby Mike Norton
My experience having a wife with type 1 diabetes is not so different from any other marriage, with the exception of having a a complicated, treacherous sidekick along for the ride. Yes, I’m talking diabetes.
My wife, Anna, was up front with me regarding her type 1 diabetes from early on in our relationship. I realized right away what a burden it is to tell a boyfriend that you have a serious, life-altering issue, knowing full well that it might scare off a lot of guys.
A silver lining could be that it might help point out the wrong kind of man to date. I was worried that Anna wouldn't like my receding hairline; she was worried I wouldn't like her life-sustaining insulin pump, not quite the same level of seriousness.
Anna's aunt vetted me by asking her, "Did you tell that boy about your machine?" Maybe something is lost in the Spanish-English translation, but it asks much more than it seems: “Can he handle it? Is he the right kind of guy to date?”
A few years after we met, we decided to get married and had a long conversation about starting a family. Anna was determined to be a mother and together, we forged ahead. Still, this choice to have a child was a major source of worry and of reward for Anna and I as a couple.
Anna worked long and hard at preparing to get pregnant, knowing full well that she needed to have her A1C below a target number that she’d decided on with her endocrinologist. So basically, for months, Anna had a part-time job as her own A1C mechanic, doing her best to ensure that when the test was taken, her numbers would be the very best they could be.
The process itself is a sobering one, as it presents an awareness of how type 1 has a stranglehold on the life of one's wife as well as the health of your unborn child. Usually the only concerns about when to try and get pregnant are related to money or careers, but when the quality of life of the unborn is the main factor, it makes all other considerations pale in comparison.
I still recall Anna getting the good news and the green light from her endocrinologist; for us it was the best news we had received to that point. From that point forward, all I needed to worry about was being handsome and having appropriate mood music at the ready.
It’s been nearly a decade since we started a family and over 15 years since she told me about “her machine.” My hairline is still receding and Anna still has diabetes. Despite that, it’s the years we’ve spent building a life together that matter most. Yes, a receding hairline and diabetes can put a damper on things. But they also teach you dedication, adaptability, and unconditional love for one another.
While it’s more than just diabetes, I am excited to help facilitate both the DiabetesSisters’ conference Partners’ Perspective Program and the upcoming Diabetes UnConferences in the PLU (People Who Love Us) sessions.
The shared moments of a partnership – a successful one – are the ones most cherished. I am excited that we can share a life together. On Valentine’s Day, and every day, I am lucky to love Anna.
Thanks for sharing your story, Mike! We love hearing how you two have made it work, even with diabetes on board. Happy Valentine's Day to you both, and of course... to everyone in the Diabetes Community!