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Partners of young people with diabetes!

Discussion in 'Young People/Adults' started by partnerswithdiabetes, Oct 17, 2018.

  1. partnerswithdiabetes

    partnerswithdiabetes Family member · Member

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    Hi everyone!

    I hope you don't mind I'm not diabetic myself but my partner is. I've found that many partners don't know how to engage with their SO's when it comes to their diabetes and I'd love to change this.
    Were both in our early twenties and both feel that there's not enough support out there to encourage partners or aid partners in being there for the other person. I know that as much as I wanted to learn everything I could when I met him 3 years ago, I had no direct websites or resources which spoke solely about the awkward stuff such as approaching the subject of diabetes with my partner, the issues with sex and diabetes and how us going out to eat or drink might affect his sugars.
    As much as diabetes concerns the person with the condition it's also important for the family, friends and partners to know how to help.

    If anyone is interested or has any questions surrounding looking after and helping your partner with diabetes, I'd love it if you'd get back to me for a chat!

    Thanks!
     
  2. kitedoc

    kitedoc Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @partnerswithdiabetes, Welcome and I am glad to hear from you as I agree there is a lot of unmet need out there.
    As a diabetic on insulin I know how easy it is to strive to be independent and hide any fear, vulnerability or shame behind a wall of super-independence and denial. And well-meant concern from one's partner is (whether I am hyper- or hypo- or normo-glycaemic (sounds techy and superior but basically means whatever the blood sugar level, high, low or normal range) that I can be easily irritated, defensive and upset, although being high or low sugar makes things worse.) And repeated expressions of concern seem like nagging when they are not.
    But having written that and speaking from my diabetes education, experience but not as professional advice or opinion:
    I hope that reading some of the threads on this site might at least give you some answers about things like how us diabetics manage with eating out; what drinking alcohol can do and why best avoided if on insulin (I am going to put in ear plugs to deafen the protests from and gnashing of teeth of the alcohol-inclined amongst us)!!
    Sex is a complex subject as it includes emotions, feelings, physical capability and mental fitness, issues like contraception/ pregnancy and so on . Two things at this stage to say (and you probably know them anyway): trying to perform sexual activity when low in blood sugar is a unmitigated disaster, and the better the diabetes control in the first 10 years or so the less the likelihood of diabetes complications including impotence.(trials can be quoted if need be)
    There may be peer group gatherings of diabetics near your area and that could encourage the formation of a diabetes partners group. As I do not live in the UK I ask those with local knowledge to help in this endevour.
    Regarding hypos, the Home page under Diabetes Type 1 has some information. Discovering over time what changes in behaviour you notice in your partner as your partner is starting to become low in blood sugar (? sweating, shakes, clumsiness, swearing (+++++ than usual)!, pale and quiet, clumsy etc. And often the family dog will know !!
    Finding a way to encourage use of the remedy which is glucose, glucose jelly beans, sweet drinks (nothing low cal or diabetic or low sugar or no sugar content for this) and no chocolate, fatty foods etc.
    For a diabetic and their partner, having a hypo begin as you both pass a lolly shop is the best karma one could have!!
    The second best is having made the mistake of injecting an insulin dose twice near the same time because the first injection was forgotten. You both need to be walking by either an early morning or late night ice-cream parlour to help ward off the likelihood of low BSL over the ensuing hours. But not to be repeated !!!
    But trying to prevent hypos and being part of the think tank which accomplishes that is the best in terms of teamwork between a diabetic and their partner. My wife also compels attention to my hypos and preventing them by issuing black glucose jelly beans as my carry around emergency supply. The black tongue gives me away every time I am asked about whether I had a hypo today?
    And she keeps the glucagon ( an injection remedy for hypos whereby the substance in a powder form is dissolved in the fluid in the syringe kit and injected under skin by the partner or helper, particularly if the diabetic cannot eat or swallow glucose or sugar in some form. (Glucagon is produced by the pancreas gland and released when BSL gets low. It causes the liver to release stored up glucose to combat the low BSL, the injectable glucagon is a booster to help sometimes if other methods are not working)/. A doctor prescribes it for emergency use. And the effect of glucagon from any source can be blocked by alcohol in the blood stream. hence my warning above. (but eating sugar and intravenous glucose still work )!!!
    My wife says she has another syringe with a BIG needle on it to inject glucagon if I should be so foolish as to dip too low in my BSL. Humour is part of what makes life easier. Best Wishes and please keep asking questions.
     
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  3. partnerswithdiabetes

    partnerswithdiabetes Family member · Member

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    Thank you for all the info! Definitely agree with the lollipops while having a hypo, however not so good when he's having hypers it just makes him sad he can't have any!
    Sometimes he will tell me to stop nagging which I completely understand but it is hard sometimes when I'm worried about his hypos in the night. He's had a couple he hasn't woken up for but luckily if he's set a night time alarm after high sugars I'll wake up and sort him out.
    However, I think it's really important for partners to at least understand as much as they can about diabetes on a whole while not trying to control it for the other person.
    I just think it's sad that alot of partners aren't aware of what their condition entails and sometimes I'm not sure if that's down to not enough info being out there catered specifically to partners or maybe they feel like it's not their place to know.
    Still so much to learn for me though!

    Best wishes also
     
  4. kitedoc

    kitedoc Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi again @partnerswithdiabetes, Night hypos can be scary. Trying to be detectives to find the cause (culprit) and "eliminate' it is so important. Sometimes if these hypos are nigh impossible to prevent, then use of an insulin pump is needed. This happened to me at the 45 year mark on insulin. Multiple injections - 4 + per day of short acting plus 2/day of long acting insulin was not enough. 6 and a bit years later on an insulin pump I am still very much night-hypo free.
    Also I was warned by my dentist years ago to try to stick to glucose tabs/liquids as my hypo relievers because other sugars were more likely to cause dental problems later. Yes, the glucose tabs etc are a little more expensive but nothing compared to the cost of dental treatment later!!
    Exercise undertaken say 6 hours beforehand, say at 7 pm can cause hypos at 1 pm onwards as a delayed effect of the exercise. Search threads under 'exercise' or by all means ask about coping with exercise. Also exercising with BSLs > 14 at the start is pretty counter-productive in my experience. My BSL just goes up and up and I feel worse afterwards than before I began and it takes AGES to bring the BSL down safely, without causing a hypo and then a rebound to high BSLs again.
    Also the rise of BSL when exercising with 14 mmol/l + BSL is something to do with the way the liver releases stored glucose as the body thinks it is starving when BSLs get above 14)
    Very glad to hear you have decided to learn all you can about diabetes. It certainly helps (even if the glucose jelly beans are black)!!!
    There are continuous glucose monitors with alarms for low BSLs available. They vary with how well they work, how long they last and how much they cost!! If you search for threads with the terms Libre, Mio Mio, (? spelling), CGM you can see some of the discussions, pros and cons etc.
    The other thing to do is perhaps ask your partner to come to the site and post some of his own questions too.
    An English person was hurrying along the streets of New York. She had tickets to a concert clutched in her hand. Several times she asked for directions. Finally she saw a man dressed in a suit and carrying a violin case walking up some steps. "Please . sir," she cried out, "How do I get to Cranegie Hall" ?.
    The gentleman stopped and turned to her and said " Practice, madam, practice, practice and more practice".
    We all learn, even from our mistakes, and over time with practice we get better and better at what we need to do and know!!
     
  5. partnerswithdiabetes

    partnerswithdiabetes Family member · Member

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    Night hypos scare me more than him I think! He's so lucky as he got placed on a insulin pump around half a year after being diagnosed however he still faces hypo's through the night. They're less frequent now as he's fine tuned his basal and bolus rates but hypos and hypers still occur depending on what he eats or of course, the frequency of exercise he does. He's very active, going to the gym around 4 times a week and playing football one night a week too but he now deals well with this compared to a year or so after I first met him.
    He uses a libre freestyle quite frequently but we are looking into ones with low BSL alarms on. Luckily he's not hypo unaware so generally he does wake up but its always those few times he hasn't that stick in my mind! He is on here somewhere but I think he's more of an observer than a poster!
    I can't thank you enough for your advice, I wish you well!
     
  6. kitedoc

    kitedoc Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Thank you @partnerswithdiabetes, He is lucky to have you! I wonder whether there is a way to further tune things like is management of exercise. AS I mentioned above late afternoon exercise can cause night hypos in me if I am not careful and if one exercises regularly then insulin sensitivity improves and that can make hypos more likely. The night time football is a potential case in point.
    My way of dealing with admittedly less severe exercise is to lower my basal rate at the end of exercise by 20 to 30% so that the effect in fact lasts a bit beyond the 6 hour mark. That is with the fact that exercise sends my BSL up initially. He may have a different pattern of BSL response.
    From my football-playing days I know the game may be easy one week and tougher the next so variability is either built in by anticipating a tougher match if the opponents' form is known. or by eating a larger supper and ensuring by trial and error that the reduction in basal and any bolus that goes with a supper etc afterwards are reduced ? 30% plus (at least in my football-playing days)!
    Best Wishes and please keep asking those questions.
     
  7. sweetbloodsher

    sweetbloodsher Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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