Friday, June 1, 2012

The Spouse's Role... Lights Camera Action

I was thinking this week about the spouses of diabetics and the role they play in the life of the diabetic.  So much of the role depends on the diabetic.  Do they recognize that they have the disease and try and manage it or are they caught in denial?

In any case, the spouse is walking a tightrope.  They need to be supportive but what exactly does that entail?  Do you go to every doctor appointment?  Do you check on what they have eaten?  Do you ask what their level is when they check it? Do you remind them to check their levels?

How can you be supportive but not be over zealous?

I think that it depends on the person.  Silent Sam was fine with me going to the first rounds of appointments but after that he was ready to be on his own.  He shares the information that he learns and we talk about his appointments.  I think that there are others that might want  their spouse to go to the appointments with them - to show their support and also to listen to what the doctor has to say. Some people really want/need to have someone there to help absorb the information. 

I do ask Silent Sam about his levels.  I don't interrogate him, I ask him just as part of  conversation.  I think that if he were having a lot of control issues that it would  either feel like an interrogation or it could feel judgmental.  It is part of that tightrope walk. 

If you don't have or live with someone with diabetes, you may not know that there can be mood swings with the disease.  When the levels are off - extreme in either direction, your spouse can have surprising behavior.  If you can gently ask about their levels or when they ate last, you may find that they need to eat something. Needless to say, this is more quick sand than tightrope. It is a time that a spouse needs to toughen up and be understanding.  Much easier said then done......

One of the things that I did when Silent Sam was diagnosed was that I ordered some (what I considered to be ) masculine diabetic medic alert bracelets.  I was concerned that if he were traveling for business or commuting to work that he could have a problem. They have yet to see the light of day.  While my intentions were good, I think that I may have overstepped what he needed from me.  He did not get upset with me (at least I didn't know that he was) but I think that I pushed him. Chalk one up for the overzealous spouse. ( or the spouse that spends too much money!)

Part of the spousal support also includes encouraging exercise.  Silent Sam works really long hours.  When he gets home, he changes and gets on the treadmill for awhile.  This means that dinner should usually be ready around 6:45 - 7 p.m.  I know that it is better if we eat earlier but  he needs the time to exercise and I am happy that he is doing it.  (Okay, the treadmill is broken again.  I thought that people usually got rid of them because they weren't used not because they broke!)  I think that if your spouse doesn't want to exercise that you might be able to entice them if you do it with them or find a way for them to get involved in something they would like.  If they need some push and are open to it, set a goal for the two of you - say walking a 5K.  There are probably some in your area that you can sign up for and do it together. 

Do you have any tips for me or others as a diabetic spouse or caretaker?  I am certainly always open to the suggestions.  Please leave a comment!

Thanks for reading!