Families Affected By Diabetes and Why I Do What I Do

Here is where my heart cries out. As a type 1 diabetic, I can feel sorry for myself for having this 24/7-365 debilitating disease where everything affects my blood sugar. The disease can and often does lead to blindness, heart disease, or amputations. But what hurts the most is how the disease affects the ones closest to me. 

Diagnosed at the age of 22 and not having any family history of diabetes, it was new to me. After diagnosis, I remember walking away yelling in a fun way thinking, “I have a condition.” I didn’t realize this so-called condition was one of the fastest-growing diseases. I also remember thinking that I was happy to get it rather than someone else; I figured it was something I could endure. I have always been headstrong. In saying this, I didn’t know the trials and tribulations that would come from it and how it would impact those around me. 

I was fortunate to have my wife when I was diagnosed. My wife, Paula, took it in stride and lovingly said, “we will defeat this. God is bigger than a disease.” Not long later, we had our first child. Healthy as could be he brought new life and joy to us as people and as parents. Two years later, we had our second child, completing our family with a love never felt before. Being a husband and father is truly the greatest gift God has given me, something I wish everyone could experience and enjoy. I would take my family over $100 million dollars any day.

During these years, learning and growing with diabetes, my wife would tell me in her soft loving voice, “I think your blood sugar is getting low.” She picked up on my slurred or slowed speech, she picked up on me fumbling my words, she picked up on my wanting to nap (which wasn’t normal). I would argue and get defensive that she was wrong. This line in itself has probably been said to me 1000 times over the years, from both her and the kids. I am not an overly aggressive person, but as I would sneak away and test my blood sugar or drink a juice, I would come back as if nothing happened. My voice would rise like no other time. This is just one small example of what family members go through, living with a diabetic.

Forget about the road trips, when my blood sugar dropped while driving. Forget about when 911 had to be called in the middle of the night while camping in the woods. Forget about losing a job because of low blood sugar and now working a job with half the pay. Forget about losing friends because one is too afraid to inject insulin (didn’t want to look like a drug addict), or get low blood sugar around them, causing an “embarrassment” of yourself and your family. Forget about trying to hide the fact you’re a diabetic because you don’t want to be labeled. Forget about all the sheets she had to wash because of all the night sweats from nocturnal hypoglycemia. Forget about all the medical appointments and health care costs. Forget about your normal 90% of the time, but the 10% of the time that brings the social awkwardness to the diabetic and my family. It’s the 90% of the time that people don’t see the debilitating disease.

These “forget” moments don’t just hurt a diabetic. They hurt the family that lives with the diabetic just as much if not more than the diabetic. The family becomes used to it, but in my life, they are the true heroes and warriors. For the number of times I have yelled at my wife or kids because of the mental instability, or depreciating cognitive thinking, I want to say I am so sorry. You have endured unnecessary and unfair treatment you didn’t deserve. Thank you for your love and standing by during those oddball moments and especially for not giving up. David, I am sorry I argue with you as much as I do. You absolutely are a winner! Josh, you have a heart of gold. Paula, you are beautiful, God sent, and are the answer. 

The disease sucks, and I wish it could be figured out, but for now, I choose to do something about it. I have waited almost 20 years for a miracle to come and get this disease healed, but I now realize the disease doesn’t need to be in control.

I am bringing this glucose gel medical alert necklace to help with those forget moments. For the diabetic and for the family. Always within reach and never to get lost. It holds the same solution we use as EMT’s to help with the most common problem diabetics face hypoglycemia/low blood sugar. We now have the help for ourselves when a minor low blood sugar arises and my wife or kids have the help when I can’t give it to myself, during a severe low blood sugar. This necklace contains the fastest over the counter product to raise low blood sugar.

Paula, for the time you met me at mile marker number seven during the Bloomsday road race to give me a juice, you are a lifesaver. You are my angel. I don’t want families to endure the pain I brought to my family.

God is bigger than the disease, I just became lost in my journey and now want to help all those affected by diabetes.