Help, my partner won't talk about his diabetes (type 1)

By KAA13 Latest Reply 2013-03-10 18:46:56 -0500
Started 2013-03-06 15:14:11 -0600

I am hoping to gain some understanding on this site. My partner of 5 years has type 1 diabetes… I only found out by accident when he passed out while I was feeding our 5-month old son, and ended up calling an ambulance in a state of panic.
He has lived with diabetes for 20 years, but he absolutely refuses to talk to me about it.

I am forever worried that he will have another episode of low or high BS… but I don't know enough about it all.

Do diabetics see their GP regularly to ensure they are on track with their insulin dosage? How do I know what is a high or a low? And what - if anything - can I do if this happens again?

Also, one more question - is it common to get tired out easily and to be quite moody?

Apologies if the questions are too simple… or offensive - I am just trying to understand…

Thank you!

16 replies

Nick1962 2013-03-10 18:46:56 -0500 Report

Something to consider, and I’ll have to slightly disagree with JustJoyce just this once (sorry Joyce, it doesn’t happen often), but at this point he really does have a responsibility to tell you. This affects both your lives and it’s very serious. I’m not sure how one manages to hide T1 for 5 years successfully, but now that you have a child together, he has some responsibility to be able to support him, maybe not legally, but morally. For whatever reasons he chooses to not deal with it, at this point can’t hide anymore. The fact that he’s had to seek medical attention for a low, in some states puts a restriction on your driver’s license, and really, now that you know it can happen again, I’d be afraid to be in a moving vehicle with him behind the wheel.
My opinion (and mine only for what it’s worth), he now has to be looking out for his family’s safety above his own reasons or pride. Hopefully this was a wake-up call and he will open up, and all these years you hadn’t taken notice he has been doing all the right things to keep himself healthy. I’m all for giving him the benefit of the doubt. For peace of mind though, I’d sure ask him if this has been the case, because I’d need to know I’m not risking my life just going to the grocery store together.

KAA13 2013-03-10 13:22:37 -0500 Report

Thanks JustJoyce - it doesn't look like he'll ever be ready, but I shall continue to support quietly and maybe try asking him to help me understand some time from now… I am starting to see patterns that I simply didn't look out for before (which indicate him checking his BS)…
Just have to stop worrying about him going too low again…
I hope he has the courage and responsibility to tell his children…
Thank you for providing a different viewpoint, even though it's a hard one to accept :)

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-08 11:47:57 -0600 Report

I think he has a right to tell you or not tell you. Diabetes has always been stigmatized. He may have had to deal with this in the past. Sometimes telling a person something can cause them to run away. He possibly felt this would happen if he told you. He also has the right to refuse to talk to you about his diabetes. He also may not know what to say or may think you won't listen. This is a two way street. You cannot make him talk to you about it. Even after 20 years he could still be in denial and not taking proper care of himself.

Most diabetics sees there medical team on a regular basis based on how well they are doing. As for his highs and lows, you would have to know what his numbers are and the only way to find that out is to be with him if and when he tests his blood sugar and if he tells you the results. Highs and lows can vary in diabetics. You can pass out if you blood sugar is too high or too low. Depends on how high or low it is.

You can change the foods you eat and how they are prepared. You don't want to become the food police but you can control the foods he consumes based on what you prepare for meals.

What you can do is get some books about diabetes. My favorites were the Everything You Need to Know About Diabetes series that included meal planning and healthy living. You can also sign up for and get their daily emails that contain tons of information. You have to educate yourself to help him.

KAA13 2013-03-08 17:27:50 -0600 Report

Thank you, JustJoyce. Although emotionally I disagree that he has the right to keep his condition to me, it was nice to have confirmed what I thought he may be feeling.
I don't want him to bare everything in his life, but I want to protect my family… that means reading any potential warning signs… or deal with moods…
Should I keep it secret from our children as they grow up?? (what does that teach them about D?)
Anyway, I guess I can't answer it all in one go…
Will check the sources you mentioned, thank you!!

Stuart, etc., I felt all those emotions when the incident happened… the lone wolf… and fear (not always rational, right?) of being imperfect, etc.
I cannot force him to share ('it is my health/illness'!! and he is right, I am not a PWD).. so am trying to equip myself with knowledge to nurture and preempt any potential repeats of him passing out (which, according to him never happened before).

From what I can tell, he has seen his GP and had some kind of vitamin screening… if he had any other appointments, I don't know… but it looks as if he is addressing things medically.

Thanks again, everyone!!

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-09 20:09:01 -0600 Report

K I just thought of this. He may not want you to worry. If he has been diabetic for 20 years odds are good he may know what to do. We all have lows and highs. People don't always want anyone to know they have an illness irregardless of the relationship they are in. Now that it is out in the open, don't show anger or let him know that you are upset because you were not told.

I think when the kids are old enough to understand, they should be told by him. He can best tell them what it is, how it effects him and things he has to do on a daily basis. A non diabetic really isn't good at this because they really don't know what the person goes through on a daily basis emotionally or physically.

I really think the best thing for you to do is educate yourself. Let your partner know that you are supportive of him and that when he is ready to talk you are willing to listen. Don't become a helicopter and hover over him. If he doesn't have a medical alert bracelet or necklace get him one as a gift. The ones they have now are really nice looking and come in gold, silver, platinum, stainless steel and titanium. You can also ask him if you can go to his GP with him and ask questions. If he says no, don't be upset. He may not be ready for this.

By the way this site has great recipes. You can also subscribe to Diabetic Living magazine. It has great articles and recipes the entire family can enjoy. Good luck to you and your family. You have my blessings.

Stuart1966 2013-03-09 00:30:13 -0600 Report

Your description breaks my heart, though I surely wish you well!!! Last time I checked, that PARTNER business, mother of his child entitled you to exactly that information and more, in fact.

Actual relationships require massive sharing, secrets, deep fears, silliness… but I don't hear the smallest whisper of that… Hope you can convince him to tell you his NAME… someday (::::

Stuart1966 2013-03-08 10:13:46 -0600 Report

Hello K:

The question becomes a very simple one. Do you want him, in your life period. There is a SERIOUS breech of trust HE MUST repair, grovel, and prove to you… and re-earn. In your place, -massive shrug-

This is not some blessed speeding ticket, some ding in the car door, he managed to "OMIT". He deliberately refused to tell you he has a life threatening, chronic illness. Not for a day or two, but for five PLUS years!

As a diabetic I understand well the need to compartmentalize, to omit a thing or two from those I love… I even accept and comprehend the diabetic "lone wolf routine". Know several who keep entirely private their "diabetic dragon" Extended family do not know, co workers apparently, not on any level!

I can even understand keeping ones insulin dosages, or testing routines, results completely to myself. The I'm the one with the disease, not you idea. As a "big boy", its fundamentally my burden idea.

But to never tell you I was diabetic, the mother of my child… that is a severe problem. Gotta get to the bottom of that immediately. Sounds like your partner has locked himself behind proverbial missile silo doors (diabetes wise)…

As his partner, the mother of his child, you are entitled to a key, you have EARNED the right to sit at that table. Because you love him, whether he wants it or not, you aren't going anywhere (???)… so he better cut the *(#@*@#&@ crap!

Righteous anger seems entirely appropriate tool. Myself, I'd plain kill him (Don't know the man, and I want to throttle him). But loving him, you need a much straighter answer than "ooopsey".

KAA13 2013-03-08 08:58:17 -0600 Report

Thank you everyone who has replied so far - some good information… and yes, criticism is welcome too. Without protecting my partner, he seems to feel less strong and manly maybe if he admits to his illness? I do not know, but I guess 20 years ago (when he was diagnosed), there was some stigma attached???? Jayabee, have asked myself these very tough questions and decided to take leap of faith… it is just very frustrating and frightening in case this happens again… How do I know whether it happened from high or low without reading his BS?
What is a pump?

I'll also revisit our diet, good thinking! I think we are pretty 'healthy', lots of fruit, veg, etc. - but might not be helpful for him… He loves bread + baked potato but not keen on rice + pasta most times (unless he is tired and prefers stodgy food… it's all coming together now… Guess that means he's in a low and needs carbs?).
I read coconut is good to keep BS in check - is that true?

Thank you so much again… for being so open and willing to educate!


jayabee52 2013-03-08 11:15:00 -0600 Report

I am wondering if he is in denial of his diabetes?

Regarding meal planning if I were in you shoes would radically restructure my meal planning. I thought when first Dx'd in 1995 that I was eating "healthy" when I started trying to eat right for diabetes. I understood Dr telling me to eat "healthy" being equal to eating "light" and I thought nothing would be better for eating light than rice cakes. I learned too late that I needed to avoid carbohydrates as much as possible to have an effect on my Blood Glucose (BG) levels. (Today I avoid most products made with grain as a way of managing my BG without diabetes meds. {I am T 2} - but I was too late in coming to that understanding and I have alot of damaging complictations. )

I would take advantage of nutritional counseling to learn about the best meal plans for combating diabetes. Know that he will probably complain about your new way of cooking. He may even complain about the serving sizes, if he is used to supersized portions.

There is a lot more that could write but this will need to do for now.

Please keep coming back here to DC to try to learn better ways to help him manage his T I.

jayabee52 2013-03-07 16:34:20 -0600 Report

Howdy "KAA"

I am sorry to say this KAA, but I wonder if you have much of a future with this man.

To be physicaly intimate with someone who refuses to be open with you about some VERY basic and bedrock parts of your lives together suggests that there is something that he feels he needs to hide, or that he is not mentally stable. (and because you care for {love} him, his T1 is a part of your life now too)

I mean if he can hide his T1 diabetes, for the length of time you two have been together what else is he hiding?

Sorry for the harsh assessment, but partnership through life has some rather some basic necessities or that partnership will break down and fall apart eventually.

Or he may leave your son without a father sooner rather than later. That would be a shame.

To answer your questions posed in the original posting:

People with diabetes (PWDs), if following the best practices of care, will test their Blood Glucose (BG) levels frequently. ( I test mine a minimum of 3 times per day but some test up to 7 times a day) that will ensure that the BG levels are in a safe range (between 80 and 120 mg/dl).

Also PWDs who follow best practices will go to a MD, and preferably as a T 1 would go to one who was a Diabetes specilaist like an Endocrinologist.

Moodiness and being tired are symptoms of having Diabetes (of any type)

It is likely he passed out due to a low and that is a danger we face. But Type 1's especially face the danger of having high BG levels and having a DKA (Diabetic KetoAcidosis) where one could lose consciousness, go into a coma and in some cases die. So going too low, it is possible to die, as well as going too high.

But he needs to care enough about you to share what to do in such cases, for his own safety and that of your family.

I pray he wakes up and starts being more open with you so you may have a better future with him.

In the mean time, keep coming here and learning all you can about his disease. There are a lot of resources here on this site and also a lot of folks who are willing to answer any questions you may have. In fact, the only foolish or stupid question here IMO is an honest question which is not asked!

James Baker

JENNIFERJO 2013-03-07 18:18:31 -0600 Report

You are so right! My boyfriend knows all about my health issues and he is able to help me in time of crisis.

Lentyl 2013-03-07 15:36:40 -0600 Report

How absolutely frustrating for you! I'd suggest looking at the diet that you have. Do you have a lot of white foods, e.g. potatoes, pasta, white flour and flour products, sugar/sugary foods like cake and cookies. All of these will make BG's more difficult to keep in check. Perhaps you might talk with a dietitian to get some help This is a marvellous place to seek help. Since he doesn't want to discuss his health concerns and they are concerns you would be wise to learn as much as you can both for yourself and for him. How does he manage to take insulin without you knowing? Diabetes isn''t his fault and he certainly didn't do anything to "get" it.

Don't be concerned about your questions. You won't learn if you don't ask questions. Go for it!!! You'll find lots of help and wonderful support and help here.

KG66 2013-03-07 15:17:53 -0600 Report

I myself don't always understand why people wont talk to others about their diabetes. I guess everyone is different about it though! I'm very open about mine. I use a pump and when I'm in public and someone ask I will explain. I don't know about everyone but I carry glucose tabs or skittles in case my sugar gets low and when I feel it I eat some. Also I try and carry a glucogone with me. It's pretty much a shot of glucose! So when I pass out someone gives me the shot and it should make me come to, someone still has to call an ambulance though. I had to teach family members and friends how to use it. It is very simple to use. I know when my BS is high I get VERY moody. So bad that nobody can stand me. When I'm low I feel tired and I tend to look tired too, that's when I know to eat something. Hope this helps a little. I am still a little new to diabetes myself but I try as best I can to educate others! :)

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2013-03-09 20:15:59 -0600 Report

KG people don't talk to others about being diabetic because people feel it is no ones business, they don't want people to worry and they don't want the stigma that has been associated with it. I really don't care who knows. There is nothing they can do about it and because I am always out and about with friends, they need to know if something happens to me.

I got 3 free samples of Level Life fast acting glucose that comes in a little pouch that fits in the case with my meter perfectly and it is flavored. There have been times I have forgotten my candy. I never leave home without my meter so now I know I have the level life.

There are times I feel like I am packing a diaper bag for a baby. I vend at fairs during the summer so I have to pack a bag with foods that I know I can eat instead of having to find something at the venue that I might not be able to eat without a problem. I also carry crystal light packs for water.

KAA13 2013-03-06 20:07:20 -0600 Report

Thank you so much for taking the time to reply!! Quite a list - wish he'd let me in on these things… but at least I have a slightly better idea now. Re mood swings - guess there is not much he can do when his BS is on a high? And, does that mean he had too many carbs or sugar (sorry if these are basic questions…).
Guess I should draw the wrath of the titans and try again to talk about it with him…

Thank you again!!!

raccoon mana
raccoon mana 2013-03-06 17:50:09 -0600 Report

mood swings can be part of diabetes. my ex boyfriend got very very moody. when his levels were too high. ( thus why hes my ex) and sleepy when low. he should be seeing his GP. plus an endocrinoloist as they soecialize in diabetes. he should be watching his carbs, and sugar use. he needs regular foot cgecks for nueropathy, infections and other issues plus regular eye exams to check for retinopathy. these are a few of a long list of thing both of you should be aware of.
good luck and dont take no for an answer. your the mother of his child, so he needs to open up