Mr. Rockefeller has type 1 diabetes. He handles his diabetes really well and I am so proud of him for the ways that he deals with it. Type 1 diabetes, or juvenile diabetes, is a condition where a person’s pancreas stops producing insulin. Insulin is a hormone that regulates glucose (sugar) levels. If a type 1 diabetic’s sugar goes too low or too high, he could have all kinds of symptoms. Diabetics regulate their glucose levels by injecting insulin to keep their sugar levels from going too high and consuming glucose when the injected insulin causes their levels to go too low. For more on type 1 diabetes, check out this link.
My hubby injects insulin using an insulin pump, controlled by his tester. The pump sticks to his body and has a tiny needle that sticks into him to deliver the insulin. He pushes some buttons on his tester to tell his pump how much insulin to put into his body. He changes the pump about once a week. It is a hundred times better than injecting insulin with shots throughout the day. He also tests his sugar with the tester. He pokes his finger and puts a blood sample on a little piece of paper and the tester tells him what his sugar is. His sugar is supposed to be between about 70 and 130, but it is not easy to keep levels in this range. Mr. Rockefeller also has a sensor on his body that constantly tests his sugar and sends the information to a handheld device. The sensor is super helpful, but does not always work and is not always correct. He still has to test his sugar with a finger prick often. We hate when the sensor stops working!!
Mr. Rockefeller is really fortunate in that he wakes up at night if his sugar is too low and he can usually feel how his glucose levels are throughout the day. He checks his sugar when he feels a little off. Some people can’t feel how their levels are and they don’t wake up, so this can be really dangerous. I know other people like this and it takes a toll on their spouses. They wake up during the night and test their spouses’ sugar. They could wake up to their spouse being unresponsive. How scary! Some people actually don’t even control their sugar. They do the bare minimum to keep their sugar from reaching extreme levels, but these people will have a lot of health problems later in life. I can’t imagine not caring!
Obviously, Mr. Rockefeller being a diabetic is not about me at all, but I can’t speak to how life with diabetes is for him. So, this post is about living with a diabetic. For me, being married to a diabetic means doing a lot of worrying. I love my husband. I don’t want him to go too low or too high and be uncomfortable or for his sugar to get out of control. If his sugar is out of control too often, it can affect his overall health. And, like I said, if it goes too low or too high, he could go into a coma or the levels could be fatal. Plus.. he gets a little cranky when his sugar gets low (his cranky is everyone else’s good mood!).
Surprisingly, Mr. Rockefeller forgets to put insulin in after eating, so I do a lot of reminding. I also have to remind him to take his tester with him. He forgets that thing everywhere he goes! You’d think he’d remember something that keeps him alive!
I ask him what his sugar is over and over again throughout the day. I’ve been able to see his sugar on an app on my phone lately, which is awesome! It beeps when his sugar is out of a range that I set. It just doesn’t always work (bummer).
Our children are unlikely to have diabetes. It is a genetic disorder, but it is believed that it needs to be in both sides of the family and it usually skips a generation (Mr. Rockefeller’s grandpa is a diabetic). We have discussed it and we will have our children tested when we have them. We worry that are grandchildren could be diabetics. But we know that life can still be great with type 1 diabetes and we’re hoping that more research will be done by then to improve the tools used to control diabetes. There is a bionic pancreas being developed that we are extremely excited about! It would involve very little work for a diabetic and would keep levels much more consistent.
One of the most difficult things about living with someone with diabetes is watching them deal with the frustration that comes with it. His sugar might start out high in the morning, so he puts some insulin in and it goes low, so he eats something, but it’s too much, so it goes high again. It’s high, but he’s hungry so he puts more insulin in and eats his meal, but he’s estimating how much to put in, so it goes low again. Sometimes it won’t come up and sometimes it won’t go down. It’s an ongoing battle. It stays within range sometimes, and sometimes it doesn’t. It gets upsetting to watch him get so frustrated with his sugar. I wish that I could help him, but there is nothing that I can do. I get him juice or fruit snacks when he needs them and try to be empathetic, but that’s about all I can do for him.
I am still learning how his pump works. He lets me practice putting insulin in and I know how to test his sugar. I know what to do if his sugar goes too low and he has taught me how to use a glucose pen for emergencies. I still have so much to learn. I understand how it works, but I don’t know the calculations for carbohydrates in foods or how many units of insulin he needs or how to adjust his basal rates. I hope to learn more because I know that I could have to do this for him or help him with it someday when he gets older. I wish that I knew more, but it’s difficult to understand. It’s easier for him to just do everything quickly on his own. I know that he is in control of it, but I will learn as time goes on!
Beeps wake us up in the night. I find test strips literally everywhere: the floor, our bed, in the vents, in my car, even stuck to my skin! I worry about my husband every day. I watch him get frustrated because of his sugar. I know that it is an extra stressor for him. I know that diabetes could lead to other health issues down the road that will affect both of our lives. But Mr. Rockefeller is an amazing man and I love him just the way he is! I will take care of him in any way that I can and I am so proud of him for taking good care of himself.
If someone you know has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, know that it will take a lot of hard work and it’ll take over your life in some ways, but your loved one can still live a fulfilling life! I met Mr. Rockefeller several years after he was diagnosed, so I did not see how difficult his first few years were, but since I met him, he has lived a normal life. He plays baseball and hockey, he works, he even eats pretty much whatever he wants! He is currently going through an academy to be a conservation officer (the same level police officer as a state trooper, but dealing mostly with environmental crime). His training is like a boot camp. We were a little bit worried about his sugar, but he is able to do whatever anyone else at the academy can do! He needs to check his sugar every once in a while or replace his pump, but it doesn’t keep him from doing anything. He is doing extremely well in the academy (and I don’t mean he’s “doing well for a diabetic”) and I am confident that he can overcome any barrier that his diabetes brings!
My biggest hope for his diabetes is that he can help others who have it and that he will bring glory to God in the way that he deals with the frustrations and obstacles that come with the condition.
Featured photo from myfertilitychoices.com.