Help with understanding a diabetic boyfriend

By KimSteve Latest Reply 2014-02-13 22:56:48 -0600
Started 2014-02-07 12:46:34 -0600

I have never had a close contact with a diabetic before and now I'm dating one who gets very combative, irritable, lethargic at times… It gets extremely hard to deal with and I'm a very patient person who is trying hard to understand. Can someone give me some understanding and possibly from someone who isn't a diabetic - someone who is a spouse of one or dating someone could give me some insight. Thank you

23 replies

Stuart1966 2014-02-13 22:56:48 -0600 Report

Hello KimSteve:

On occasion we are just whatever that mood(s) might be, diabetic does not start every breath, every action, every sentence. On occasion we are silly, lethargic, stupid, angry, dopey, whatever the case might be, AND also, also diabetic too.

Be aware… ; D its a possibility to consider.

Nick1962 2014-02-08 19:46:00 -0600 Report

Lots of great responses so far, but I approach it from a little different angle (I’m known for that here a little).

You use the word boyfriend – can I assume that this isn’t a long-term relationship? Less than 15 years?
I know I was much the same when I was diagnosed, mood swings, untreated highs and lows, really an ugly person most times.

While patience is a virtue (which I hope he appreciates), it isn’t limitless. Had it not been for the fact that I was married when I was dx’d, and my wife was (is) a patient God-fearing woman (your same age), I’d definitely be single right now. Those cranky, high induced outbursts often lead to days of not speaking to one another, and that fear of lows becoming potentially dangerous would certainly have sent her packing for her own sanity and safety before long. I wasn’t that great a catch that she’d risk an auto accident, especially with a 14-year-old daughter in the car. Not to mention that time spent “sleeping it off” unnecessarily sucks precious time from each other.

Haven’t seen whether he’s T1 or T2, but looking at him he’s certainly healthy enough to gain some sort of control. This is a relationship, and he’s got a responsibility to provide his best. This is not behavior most girlfriends I know would put up with for long. I think I’d gently work at/with him (as my wife did me) letting him know that this, to some degree is within his grasp and manageable, and life would be easier if he took the burden off you to “deal with” his condition by making it his issue to manage. OK, I’ll come out and say man up and deal with it already. Won’t lie, it might take some conniving and manipulation on your part, but now when my wife says “I want to go to the beach”, my response is “Caribbean work for you?”. I learned my life, as well as my relationships can easily be cut short. No sense in forcing it if I can help it.

KimSteve 2014-02-08 20:08:36 -0600 Report

My boyfriend and I will be together two years in June and we have talked about moving to one state or the other as he lives in Missouri and I live in Wisconsin. He is T1. We've had some times when I've had to walk away, but he's a very special man and the times he's of regular levels we have a wonderful time and he makes me feel very loved. I feel like I have purchased a item without directions and I feel lost as to how to help. I talked to my local hospital about finding a group to go to but budget cuts and lack of participation caused the one they had to stop functioning. He doesn't work due in part to his diabetes. Sometimes I think that bothers him. Nick1962 I admire your wife and I'm sure I could learn a great deal from her.

Nick1962 2014-02-09 11:18:39 -0600 Report

Always nice to meet a fellow Wisconsinite. I grew up on Lake Michigan, (but moved south about 14 years ago) so I know the Midwest mindset has a little to do with it.
Two years is still honeymoon phase, and I’m thinking you’re both still trying to discover each other, and of course at our age, certain patterns are pretty engrained. This will probably end up being one of those compromises that eventually work out like a lot of my bachelor behavior had to when I got married the second time.

My wife likes fish – not to eat, but as pets and entertainment. She put up with me through that dark period, so to make up for it I decided we’d take up snorkeling where she can actually get in with the fish (added benefit, she got rid of the smelly 20 gallon tank). We’ve gotten good enough at it that we can go out unsupervised and in some pretty rough but beautiful settings. We often get separated – I usually wander off into the coral, she watches the sea turtles in the grassy areas. Now I know my body, and there is no way I’m getting in the water with numbers lower than 95. I also know what happens when I exercise for a few hours without food. I’m not a strong swimmer to begin with, but I really doubt my wife would enjoy herself if she had to worry about finding my body washed ashore and cut up by coral. I owe her that peace of mind, so I go through the rituals needed. She doesn't need to take care of me - just sit back and enjoy herself. She's long since stopped asking did I test, do I need to eat, and it's been a long while since we've gotten into any type of heated disagreement.

Give it some time, but be firm in impressing on him that he’s not just living for himself anymore. Ultimately this is something he’ll need to reign in, not just for his own health, but the health of the relationship. He’s been living with it long enough and knows what to do. Groups probably won’t be of any good because in the end, like me, it’s a big personal step he has to take. Right now, having you in his life is the best incentive he has, and quite possibly he’ll get that and turn it around and get back to work even.

KimSteve 2014-02-09 18:42:51 -0600 Report

I have known this area of Wisconsin for all my life but have only just returned in 2001. I moved around a lot and that's how I knew my boyfriend. We just reconnected at our class reunion (All Class Reunion) he's 3 years older then myself and we've both been divorced. We both have grown kids as well. I have spent all my life in the Midwest as has he. I'm surprised he would be willing to move up here. My youngest daughter still lives with me; she's 24 and just graduated college. I'm on the west side of Wisconsin but have visited Door County and love the scenery there and all over. Steve and I absolutely love to travel and have been up to Bayfield and Duluth and along Lake Superior and the Mississippi/St. Croix Rivers. We have plans for a lot more traveling. I don't want to push him too hard but I want him to understand I can't worry about him all the time - not that I'll ever stop, but I would love to be assured that he is doing what he needs to live. I wonder if his ex-wives (2) never had the will to try to understand him or the disease. I also have been married twice so we relate to bad relationships. I was married 9 years the first and 23 years the second. His first wife left him for someone else and his second didn't want a relationship in the end and they lived separately for years at the end. He, like me had long term relationships that didn't last the sands of time, but both of us want that. We are both very religious and family oriented and we have grown to enjoy spending time with each of our families as they enjoy spending time with us. I see a promising future for us - hence would be why I want to understand this thing called Diabetes as best as I can and while he tries to give me his insight into it getting a little information and knowledge from someone on the outside is most helpful as well.

Thank you so much for your life history and any continued knowledge you may share. I appreciate it more then you know. I've said it before on here but anything your wife may want to add would be appreciated as well.

Thank you,

Nick1962 2014-02-09 19:43:29 -0600 Report

Ain’t past life baggage a wonderful thing? I’m sure we could swap some pretty hair-raising stories. I’m sure diabetes has probably been the least of his worries until now.
The right woman can make all the difference, and now that much of that baggage is safely stowed behind him (or about old enough to live on their own), this would be a good chapter in his life to focus on the future. You’re both adults so have the talk and map out what you want the coming years to be like. Travel for us in the beginning meant a long anniversary weekend up in Egg Harbor. But being the crab I was, the memories are bittersweet. Sitting in the car eating banana splits we snagged from the local ice cream shop just before closing at 10:00 at night, overlooking the harbor is certainly one of them. Of course 4 days alone with each other was the limit at the time. Now, after two weeks in Hawaii, we both managed to hold it together until the last leg of the 12 hour flight home, and even that 2:00 a.m. spat in the Dallas airport was mild compared to the early days. Our last “outing”, major sunburn and all was nothing less than spectacular.

You both want to travel, but there are certain requirements of a T1 to make that happen as you say to make it enjoyable for both. I think once you both agree on what you want to accomplish, he’ll get on-board to make it happen. I bet at that point all this discussion will be water under the bridge. Let me know, I know a great little place on St. Thomas.

GabbyPA 2014-02-08 18:13:33 -0600 Report

The issues you describe in your post could be red flags to me of poor glucose control unless that is just his character. When we have sugar spikes, we often can get irritable and if it happens a lot, it can just become habit. How well is he controlling his levels? Also the lethargic is a symptom of high sugar or also could be a low, but usually comes with sweats, shakes or slurred speech.

I would take some time to learn with him or from him how he takes care of himself. You may find your keys in that.

KimSteve 2014-02-08 19:41:57 -0600 Report

I've been with over a year now but we live 500 miles apart so I'm not with him every day, but we talk every day. He's been a diabetic for 42 years and I'm not sure if it's poor control, just his character or both. He's pretty good about what he eats when he does eat and for the most part he's good about eating at 6 a.m. - noon and 6 p.m. regularly. But sometimes I've called him at noon and he doesn't answer and then find out he's fallen asleep because he got sleep/low and just went to sleep. I've called his parents who are in their late 70's and they've run over panicked which he wasn't happy about and asked me not to do that, but short of calling 911 I feel helpless being so far away when I can't see what's going on. He's 57 years old so he's not a kid. He's had low blood sugars when we've been together too and I can't put a finger on what triggered it. Maybe we did more physically like walking then he thought we were going to or who knows. I have so much to learn and feel I need to do it quickly for his sake and mine.

GabbyPA 2014-02-09 13:06:39 -0600 Report

Well you are in a good place here to learn about things. It's hard to do all of that long distance and after 42 years of diabetes, it may just be his character. He is a grown up, you are right there, but if he has issues that are that much of a burden on you, you have to look at what you hope to give and get out of the relationship. It can't be a one way street.

Just Joyce
Just Joyce 2014-02-08 13:26:27 -0600 Report

If he doesn't want to help himself, there is nothing you can do. You can't force the help on him. If he is in that kind of shape his problem is his blood sugar level. If his blood sugar is that low, he needs to see a doctor.

Find a diabetic education class and try to get him to go with you. Do not nag him or become the food police. Don't monitor every thing he does. Talk to him about being diabetic but don't make it a daily conversation and if he tells you to mind your business do so.

Odds are he knows what he should be doing, he simply isn't doing it. He may be depressed, gone into denial because he is simply tired of doing what he has to do or he no longer cares.

The one thing you can do is call 911 if he gets to the point he passes out. Then he will get the help he needs and a trip to the ER might open his eyes to all that can go wrong with him if he isn't taking care of himself.

kimfing 2014-02-08 13:20:10 -0600 Report

I think u have come to the right place. I've been married to t1 20+ yrs and last year i was dx t1. When he gets irritable or tired, ask him to check bs. He may be hi or low. Most off all don't nag :-) i can tell when my man is low just by the color in his face, butbthat has taken yrs of involvement in his care. We are a team. We go to local support meetings together.

Keep being patient, the more involved u are, the better things should get. Try finding education classes u can go to. Check out the info on this site, may give you some insight.

KimSteve 2014-02-08 13:29:32 -0600 Report

THANK YOU THANK YOU - the hardest part is trying not to panic - I learned to be a little more calmer about it because my first instinct was to get him some type of sugar to get it up. I have learned to see the signs of his speech being slurred or his getting tired when he's low but I look for the ability to notice it a little sooner. It seems it's something you just can't predict and very hard to keep regulated. He's a wonderful man and that's why I'm here to try to understand it better. Thank you so much Kimfing

KimSteve 2014-02-08 08:33:27 -0600 Report

I guess I'm at a loss for who to ask and I've talked to one other diabetic and thought maybe someone on here with diabetes had significant others that may want to voice their knowledge. Or maybe someone on here that has it can give me their view point on how to help someone that has it. I'm at a loss and I want to help him but sometimes maybe it's just best to leave him alone when he's as low as a blood sugar of 40. He doesn't want the pump or a monitor so he goes completely on when he wants to check it and that's IF he wants to check it. He's a 42 year diabetic and he's currently 58 years old. My profile photo is him. Jigsaw, I guess it isn't as easy as I'd like to think and in many ways it's no different in a relationship without diabetes - we're two different people; men and women, we just added a medical issue. I just want to help rather then hinder and thought maybe someone else could give me some advice. Thanks

jigsaw 2014-02-08 15:27:50 -0600 Report

I think much of what Just Joyce said in her reply, is the hard core truth. I know that I am the main player, when it comes to managing my diabetes. No one else can do it for me. My wife can be helpful, by not eating a bowl of rocky road in my face, and maybe by e-mailing me some good info about diabetes. She can if she chooses, to be understanding if I get irritable, and blame my diabetes. Fortunately, for both of us, I manage my diabetes very effectively, so when I get irritable, or not in the best of moods, I doubt if it has anything to do with diabetes most of the time. Just don't tell my wife that!

There is quite a bit to learn about managing diabetes. If avoiding serious complications, and maintaining ones health is not a major motivator for someone with diabetes, then there are possibly other issues at hand also.

I'll tell you what I really believe. If you love your boyfriend enough, then it's most likely you that will have to make some changes. He looks like a big boy ( meaning a grown adult ), and either you accept him the way he is , or you don't. I would guess that he has the ability to take care of himself, and l the potential to manage his diabetes. Hopefully, he will do so before a major complication happens.

So, here is what I think the best thing you can do is, even if it seems too basic. Accept him, love him, and why not simply let him know that you are disappointed, that he does not take care of his diabetes properly. Offer encouragement when he does! Just don't become a critic.

dagger1234 2014-02-07 15:29:38 -0600 Report

Why would you need above from non diabetics? Isn't better to hear it from those who have it, what they want you to hell them with? First off, I applaud you for being patient. I advise you to cook/eat/Maintain his blood sugar wit him, if he sees you trying, he'll change. Say that you are with him in it for the better.

I can say honestly for myself. I am only very combative etc when my blood sugar is low. Try carrying glucose tablets with u or make him a small snack to get his sugars to normal. Guarantee you he won't be as aggressive anymore.

KimSteve 2014-02-08 08:37:06 -0600 Report

Thank you so much. We do cook together and I have learned to eat a lot better through him and I love it. I do carry glucose tablets in my purse and in my car along with him carrying items with him; such as orange juice and candy bars (small ones). He seems to like that better. Is it better to just leave him alone when he gets combative? I always worry I need to get him to eat something quick and he just wants me to let him sleep it off. That scares me.

jaydoubleyou23 2014-02-07 15:48:07 -0600 Report

Well I think you came to the wrong site if you are really looking for someone who is non diabetic to give you advice, but all I can say is be there for him. You will never be able to understand fully and his attitude probably will always be like that because that's what diabetes does to you sometimes. You just got to make sure he's taking care of himself right and make sure you're doing your very best to be supportive.

KimSteve 2014-02-08 08:45:04 -0600 Report

I couldn't find a site that was strictly for spouses or significant others of diabetics - that's why I came here hoping someone with diabetes had something from knowing what their mates were doing to help them or their mates could make a comment to my request. I'm 55 years old and he's 58 and has had diabetes for 42 years. I guess I'm looking for someone closer to my age that has had it for a much longer period of time. No offense to you. Communication with people about something, no matter what it is, that they have experience with is always a plus. Thank you for your comments.

KimSteve 2014-02-08 12:47:19 -0600 Report

Thank you - I appreciate that. I'm talking with another person I found on here - if I need more I'll send you a note. Again thank you I appreciate any help I can get. I wish they had a support group here that I could go to. I've checked all over and they don't have enough people to come to warrant having a meeting so I'm checking out websites.

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