It’s hard to believe that our family has been adjusting to life with diabetes for over a decade now, and yet we still learn something new every. single. day. The day of my husband’s diagnosis marks a hard shift in the way this family operates, apart from the obvious medically-discharged-military-family that returned from life abroad to adjust to civilian life. This condition effects every intended plan, right down to day-to-day functions and parenting tactics. I know it can be strange to consider that a disease that plagues one member of a family can have that much of an impact, but it’s a harsh reality.
You see, diabetes has removed my husband’s ability to produce insulin naturally for his body to break down sugar into much needed energy. He relies on very expensive manufactured insulin that is delivered by a pump that is literally connected to his side. It’s not as simple as staying away from donuts and candy; carbs factor into the equation as they convert to sugar, which means everything he eats must be accounted for. The slightest miscalculation or the body’s unwillingness to absorb the faux insulin can create unanticipated reactions, mood swings, and even scares that incite post-midnight hospital runs. These incidences are scarcer as we fine tune our approach, but there is an anticipation of being at the ready for, well, basically anything.
Though there is a routine to living with Diabetes Mellitus Type 1, like healthy eating, exercise, and monitoring sugar levels, they don’t warn you of all the ways it will alter every decision you make. Best intentions set aside, you cannot always plan for how the body will react to certain triggers and shift what you had set for the day. Believe it or not, even the weather or the moon phases can wreak havoc on neuropathy flair-ups and reactions. Promises are exchanged with “we will try” and spontaneity is almost obsolete. If you knew my husband personally, this plays entirely against his nature, which only enhances the struggle.
Is diabetes a hard condition to live with? Most definitely! Yet, it’s displayed human resilience in the most unexpected way, as I bear witness daily to our family making the best of a difficult situation. With a little empathy and a whole lot of support, this chronic disease can be bearable.