I was visiting my daughter and son-in-law the other week and my grandson was giving me a hug goodbye. He whispered into my ear as he gave me a hug and kiss goodbye, “Grandpa, me go with you.” Besides my heart melting it stirred up thoughts about how important a support system is for a type 1 diabetic. So much about this disease isolates and separates you from mainstream life. How you eat, the carb counting, the blood sugar elevator, all of this tends to separate you from ‘normal’ life.
After the initial shock and wash of emotions that come when diagnosed with this disease, the anger and irritation of having to watch what you eat, check your bloodsugars and always carry food with you when you exercise or go anywhere sets in. Initially I was supported by extended family and friends, they did their best but even I didn’t know what was the best course of action for them to support me the way I needed support. It really wasn’t until I got married one who could support me arrived. Early in our marriage, my wife decided she was going to learn about the disease and how it affected me. This is key because diabetes is so different for each person. When I asked her why she was so intent on learning my disease, she stated “I know if I keep you healthy, I will be healthy as well.” I have never felt so loved in my life. Someone actually wanted to know how food affects me, personally, completely blew me away.
The American Diabetes Association published findings in which a solid family support system actually created an environment of healthier management of the disease and quicker adjustment to the regiments of the disease:
“For psychosocial adaptation, when family members behaved in ways that supported the diabetes care regimen (measured by the DFBC), the individual with diabetes was more satisfied with his or her adaptation to the illness and reported less interference in role function due to emotional problems. Family cohesion (measured by the FES) also related to better physical function. Women reported higher levels of diabetes satisfaction. The Appraisal of Diabetes Scale predicted glycemic control and psychosocial adaptation. (Trief, P., Grant, W., Elbert, K., & Weinstock, R., 1998, p. 1).”
As the years have gone by, my family has become more aware of the things I need for good management of my diabetes. When I go to visit my grandchildren, my step daughter is careful to put healthy ingredients in her cooking or will let me know what is put in the food for proper documentation and insulin therapy. I have come to rely, heavily, on my family and it makes the day to day choices much easier. I have come to appreciate and be secure in these expressions of love for me.
As I gave my nearly 3 year old grandson a big hug after his request, I told him, “momma would miss you too much for you to go with me.” And with that I thought, but you go with me everywhere I am little buddy…
Trief, P., Grant, W., Elbert, K., & Weinstock, R., 1998, Family Environment, Glycemic Control, and the Psychosocial Adaptation of Adults With Diabetes, Diabetes Journal, American Diabetes Association, Alexandria, VA. ISSN: 1935-5548