When you and your partner disagree on your treatment plan.

Dr Gary
By Dr GaryCA Latest Reply 2012-10-18 21:16:16 -0500
Started 2012-10-09 21:30:25 -0500

Your treatment and self-care regimen.

You and your doctor. You and your partner.

Is everybody on the same page? Yes? No? Not sure?

I often talk to individuals who have been diagnosed with a chronic condition about the disagreements they have with their partners regarding their treatment plan – medications, ongoing monitoring, diet, lifestyle… The person being treated and their physician are comfortable with the treatment regimen, but their partner may have some concerns – choice of medication or side effects, for example. Sometimes they bring their partner in so that the three of us can talk together.

In these situations, I often feel like I am the mediator between two people who have two different views of treatment, sometimes polar opposite views. But the same goal – for the individual with the chronic condition to be as healthy, and with as much quality of life, as possible. So how do we get to an “our way” somewhere between the two sides?

How are you and your partner feeling about your treatment? Have you had disagreements? If so, have you come to an agreement? A compromise? Or have you agreed to disagree?

You may be able to find a path that you can travel together. Check out my article in Living with Diabetes:

I would really like to hear about your experiences!


36 replies

Graylin Bee
Graylin Bee 2012-10-15 22:52:17 -0500 Report

Hubby is usually supportive of me and I of him. However much we try to understand you still can't be 100% in the same place. At work this happens as well. As caregivers some of my fellow staff and family members and myself sometimes fail in being as supportive as we each could be. Although I spent several weeks not sure if I would make it out of the hospital alive I still do not know what is going on inside emotionally with my hospice residents. When they have lost the ability to communicate verbally the nights of caring for them can be very long.

Ms. DAT 2012-10-17 01:25:17 -0500 Report

I understand exactly what you mean and how you feel because I have been in that same position of caring for hospice clients and not feeling the best but yet you can not show it. Continue to do what you do and trust that even though the can not respond verbally but they know that you are their by your touch and care that you provide. I believed that when I worked actively with hospice clients for years and it helped me get through the quiet times.

Ms. DAT 2012-10-17 01:22:46 -0500 Report

Hello Dr. Gary! I really liked the suggestion given in the article because I can identify with many of them and I can see where even more areas of support is needed.

My partner and I are doing better at supporting one another even though we are both T2 but we have different results where my blood sugar tends to run on the high side whereas his tends to drop low too low so there have to be a balance for both of us.

Oh yeah we have disagreed on a few points but since a couple of hospital admissions we have come to a better terms of support for one another.

We both determine to live a healthier lifestyle by walking more and eating less on a plate of food, increase fresh fruits/vegetable.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-16 21:24:06 -0500 Report

Hi there!

Great to hear from you. It's been awhile. I am always interested in your insights that you gather at your job.

Very interesting comment about your husband. I agree, people are still people, and 100% is a lot to ask for. Maybe the 80/20 rule fits here.

And I can only imagine what it must be like to be in your role, with people who are at the end of their lives and can't talk about their feelings. I am sure that they appreciate your tender loving care.


MAYS 2012-10-11 09:40:26 -0500 Report

Being single now, but once having a partner who was diabetic made for a very pleasing, yet somewhat interesting relationship at times.
It really illuminated the point of diabetes being an individuals disease due to the fact that what affected her sometimes did not affect me blood sugar wise and vice versa, (treatments and methods of approach) so it was a very educational experience for us both, there were some very interesting discussions between us, not to mention attitudes and facial expressions!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-15 17:01:24 -0500 Report


Thanks for checking in here. Nice to hear from you!

Your reply was very interesting to read. I can imagine that it must have been a learning experience to be with someone who was also diabetic, to experience the differences in how this condition affected each one of you, and what you needed to do to take care of yourselves. I supect lots of patience reqired at times.

Hope all is well!


pontufex 2012-10-11 06:33:01 -0500 Report

Being single I don't have to worry about a partner/spousal disagreement about my healthcare plan, and even if I were married, or had a girlfriend their opinion about my health would be ignored. Yes that's a pretty blunt statement, but it's true. It's my life, my health, and only my doctor and I can decide what's best for me. A third voice would only muddy the waters and cause confusion and conflict. I really couldn't care less how upset they would get with me, and if they were to choose to make something of it that would be their problem.
My desire for a straight forward, no nonsense, practical approach to my health is no reflection on them. It simply means I desire the best for them, and the less confusion there is the better.

When I was married I didn't appoint my wife as my healthcare proxy…why? Simple, she would have acted out of sentimentality and emotion instead of logic (no I don't think all women are like that), so I appointed that position to my brother who I knew/know would act in my best interest, not his. Thankfully the issue never had to be exercised during my tour of duty (marriage).

As for end of life issues, only I have that decision, and it's clearly and methodically explained in my living will. In this case I know my brother wouldn't act with a clear mind, seeing as he would be responsible for either deciding to extend my life via artificial means or checking me into the underground motel. In this case I know beyond doubt emotion would override logic every time.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-15 17:23:05 -0500 Report

Hey pontufex,

I really appreciate your honesty here.

I understand your point. IT seems to me that diabetics are especially aware of the need to maintain their self care every second of the day, that's what you need to do to manage diabetes. And so much of diabetic self care involves watching your diet, which affects everyone else in the household. Diet changes alone can lead to conflict, as well as encouragement to ignore diet restrictions from time to time, or often.

This is another reason why it's important for partners to meet with the patient and the physician, so that everyone hears the same information.

And I understand your concerns about healthcare proxies. The person who is closest to you may not be the best person to make hard decisions. So by choosing an objective person, you can be saving your loved one difficult decions and heartache.

Sounds like you have your bases covered well. We can all learn from your example.

Thanks for adding your voice here!


Set apart
Set apart 2012-10-11 05:59:27 -0500 Report

Hi Dr. Gary it's strange you bring this up. My husband and I are going through some difficult trials now. I was diagnosed a T1 August 2011, since then my A1c has been great! The bad news is that itbseems that I may be facing something else maybe another autoimmune disease, my kidneys are now being attacked by something new causing a high amount if protein to drop into the urine! My husband and I went to the nephrologist together, lots of bloodwork, medication, no supplements, etc. My husband now says whatever it is will go away, were we in two different rooms when the nephrologist told us about the possibilities and the worst scenario!!!! It's been a long haul Dr. Gary, maybe he is in denial and wants me not to have anything else! Not sure now he seems yo be irritable, finding excuses not to go with me to Dr. And all this tests! I need support and hope he comes around, I know I was really healthy before all this, and he may want the old me back! I'm still here, just facing some new things! Thanks for this!

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-15 16:49:38 -0500 Report

Hello Set apart.

It's been awhile since we have been in touch. Thanks for jumping in here.

I am really sorry to hear about this new diagnosis. I knows someone who also has this condition, or a similar one.

It's hard to receive a new diagnosis. Hard for you and hard for the people who love you. It sounds like you are stepping up to the plate and seeing what this is going to mean, and what you need to do to take care of yourself. Life on life's terms.

It also sounds like your husband might not quite be there yet. As you said, he may be experiencing some denial -- hoping that if you don't make a big dieal out of this, and even ignore it, it might just give up and go away on its own. In my experience, denial comes from feeling helpless. He may want to help, but not be sure what to do. And he may be fearful about the future.

First, I hope that you are getting some support, that you have people in your life, friends or other family members, that you can talk to, who will listen without trying to fix you or tell you what to do.

It may take time for your husband to come around. Infiting him to future dostor visits can help. He may need time to process this information. But you might also offer to be his listening ear. Let him know that you know this is hard for him, too, and that you want to be a team with him, supporting each other on the road ahead.

Again, I am sorry to hear about this new diagnosis. You are managing your diabetes well. And you will do what you need to do to take the best possible care of yourself.

You have a lot of support right here. I hope that you will keep in touch with us. don't go through this alone.


eristar 2012-10-11 05:46:14 -0500 Report

My husband of 37 years is sweet, and totally clueless. I have been T2 for the past 2 years, and for my birthday this year he bought me (brace yourself) a small shopping bag filled with various candy bars he knows I like. Sigh…

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-15 16:25:42 -0500 Report

Hey eristar, wow, what a story. You think people get it and then they show that you don't get it. Or maybe he is hoping that you will appreciate the thought and then give them back to him to eat. Either way, sounds like another opportunity to educate your husband. I heard that sigh...

Mrs.Sweet 2012-10-13 06:05:07 -0500 Report

I'm glad my hubby is the only one that thinks like that. I'll tell him when he going to the store — I need a small snack to keep my levels up at night. And he comes back with a bag of sweet stuff.

gbc43 2012-10-13 06:53:59 -0500 Report

If they don't know you must teach them.They must know what your world is like and understand why . Sweet tea is nasty but I drink lots of tea hot over ice .
Eat right and live long .

GabbyPA 2012-10-11 09:24:35 -0500 Report

Mine is kind of like that. Won't let me drink sweet tea, but doesn't get the french fry or pasta connection. You gotta love 'em.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-10-10 12:49:59 -0500 Report

Dr. Gary, I believe the health plan the patient follows is the plan the patient and the doctor discussed and how the plan works for the patient. A lot of the time, spouses, significant others or partners do not go to the doctors with their loved ones and if they go they don't talk to the doctor with their loved one. They end up being "arm chair" health coaches.

My sister and I live together. We don't go to the doctors with each other unless we are going somewhere after the doctors visit. She had a small heart attack and I have diabetes. We both eat the same things only she taunts me with a cinnamon roll, cake or cookies. I taunt her with no sugar added red grapefruit. If she is in the supermarket she will bring me something new she has seen that is sugar free. I will get her low sodium items.

My health plan works for me and hers works for her and we don't interfere. She knows what to do if my blood sugar is low and I know what to do if she ever says she has chest pain. We do remind each other to take our meds.

If your partner does not go to the doctors with you, doesn't listen to reports from the doctors or is involved with your chronic disease treatment and health plan then I don't think they have a right to interfere. No matter how it goes it is still my chronic disease. I am not going to allow anyone spouse, family member or friend interfere if my health care plan is working for me.

GabbyPA 2012-10-11 09:22:41 -0500 Report

But what about those of us who do? I go to every single one of my husband's visits. He doesn't do the same with me. So I do understand your point. He also doesn't get involved in my diabetes, unfortunately. I do wish he would be more involved.

But I am very involved in his treatments. I ask most of the questions at the doctor's office. I want him to live as long and healthy as possible. I never force my issues, but I do voice my concerns and try to find a happy medium between doctor, hubby and self.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-15 16:23:27 -0500 Report

Hi Gabby! Thanks for adding your perspective here, as always. I often hear that wives are very involved in their husband's healthcare -- often more than they are themselves. But unfortunately, I also often hear that this involvement is not mutual. I suspect that you hear this a lot, too.

GabbyPA 2012-10-15 20:57:22 -0500 Report

Yeah, you are right about that. It does kind of hurt in a way. But guys tend to not "care" about their health, so it stand to reason we step in. And since we are taking care of them, we must, by some osmosis, be also taking care of ourselves. I am no so great at that. But I try to do what I can. It is a hard road to travel some days. But love makes it worth while and ultimately, what we do here is temporary. It will all get us in the end.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-16 21:56:07 -0500 Report

Hi Gabby, you have a great positive attitude, but also realistic. We can all learn by your example. You're right, women tend to be much more active medical consumers than men are, taking care of their loved ones, and hopefully taking care of themselves as well. But it has to be a lonely road at times. The caregiver needs TLC, too. When we love someone, we learn to live with the ways in which they are short-sighted.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-10 16:22:41 -0500 Report

Hi Joyce,

Thanks a lot for checking in and sharing your experience and insight.

Armchair health coach is a good term. It is like support, but from a great distance, and not close enough to even begin to understand what it's like for their loved one to have that diagnosis.

It sounds like you and your sister have a great routine worked out to help each other stay compliant, and even have some fun with along the way.

And I understand what you mean about wanting to have the final decision on your healthcare. It sounds like you are way ahead of the curve on your self-care!


Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2012-10-10 19:30:24 -0500 Report

Thanks Dr. Gary, I have to stay ahead of the curve. This is my health and even though I don't focus on it, I stay on top of my daily routine. I must admit the past two days have been rough. I am in a toe to toe battle with City Hall and today I won. I missed lunch both days and dinner was later than usual.

I would never trust my health to a spouse or anyone outside of my medical team if that person is not with me when I am in my doctors exam room. The spouse who does not go with the doctor may not have a full understanding of what my medical condition is and if they have expressed no interest they are not educated as to what I should or should not be doing.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-15 16:21:04 -0500 Report

Wow, a battle with city hall. That can't have been an easy one. As the saying goes, you can't fight city hall. But apparently you can. I hope that you won!

I agree with you on this. Diabetes has to be a team effort. And to be really knowledgeable about what's going on, partners need to hear the same information. That includes the doctor's visit.


Mrs.Sweet 2012-10-10 07:32:40 -0500 Report

Well I was told in my local ER then a week stay at the hop. That I was T2. My hubby trust to be supportive but he is really not much help. When the Dr tells me of diabetic stuff, he will help me look up infr on the internet. But other then that he will not talk about diabetes, even when I try to talk to him. If I want to eat something special ( once a week) he always tells me I'm going to die. My sugar is controled 79-200 most days I don't go over 180. I only take a meal time shot when I'm over 130. So I'm taking a shot avg once a day.

Dr Gary
Dr GaryCA 2012-10-10 16:12:30 -0500 Report

Sounds like your husband is supportive to a point. He is aware of your diabetes, and wants to see you take care of yourself. But he may be too worried to talk about it, or maybe just not much of a talker when it comes to things things that might worry him too much. You are certainly not alone. A lot of partners are supportive but kind of from a distance.

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