So I've lived with Type 1 diabetes for 27 years now and have known my husband for seven of those 27 years. With no prior knowledge of Type 1, he has had a big learning curve over the years. And for the most part... he's done fairly well understanding the ins and outs of this constant and challenging balancing act and the tight rope between life and death those of us with Type 1 walk each day. There was that instance last summer while I was on a bike ride with a low blood sugar and couldn't reach him... But we worked through that.
Much of our life revolves around my health. Maybe sad. But true... My frequent and regular healthcare appointments, a large part of our finances being occupied and swallowed up (my holistic lifestyle adds tremendously to the burden we experience financially -- but it is worth it in how I feel!! Just costly...), our schedules and how we plan things (sometimes needing to cancel plans, schedule our days and weeks more lightly or push plans back a few minutes or a few hours).
These are all ways my health plays a part in our marriage. And a big one at that. He handles it all so gracefully, never making me feel like a burden. And often telling me that his top priority is my health. I know I am very blessed.
We all know living with diabetes, whether Type 1 or Type 2, requires immense care through our daily lifestyle choices -- nutrition, regular exercise, proper sleep, limiting stress, keeping up with regular medical appointments. How well we balance all of these and the effort we put in equates to our quality of life. Not only the quality of life we experience now but the rest of our days. This is important!
We have a big responsibility on our hands that can at times feel daunting and exhausting. But we carry on and persevere, knowing it is all worth it. The fears and concerns of blindness, amputation, stroke, kidney failure (these are unfortunately just a few) are on the other end waiting for us if we do not take care of ourselves... (and sometimes even if we do).
Thus the reason my health comes front and center in our marriage. We both want me around a long time -- healthy and happy! I love my family and have a lot to live for. There are many people whose lives I want to touch and help by sharing my story and leading others to holistic wellness and joy despite the hardships one or more serious chronic health conditions can often bring.
Well... last night we had a little snafu. As some of you know, I live with multiple food sensitivities in addition to Type 1 diabetes and other chronic health conditions. It's a full load that wears me very thin on some days. My food sensitivities mean I cannot eat food from a majority of the major food groups (gluten, corn, dairy, nuts etc).
I hadn't eaten a lot of calories yesterday. I woke up tired with plans to go to my Sunday morning yoga class. After waking up way too early and finally getting sleepy again, I set an alarm for a 30 minute nap after being awake a few hours. I then realized fairly quickly that I was just way too tired and 30 minutes would not be enough time to rest. I shut off my alarm, missing yoga, and fell asleep another two hours.
As we had a memorial end of life celebration to attend, my focus once I woke up was on getting ready as quickly as possible to get there. I had some leftover healthy smoothie in the fridge from the morning prior, so I poured myself the last glass. After curling my hair and putting on my make-up, I put together a makeshift lunch to eat when I got to the reception. As any of you who also live with food sensitivities knows, any kind of family or public event does not offer much room for nourishment that falls within our strict dietary guidelines.
I packed an organic smoked turkey breast sandwich on gluten free bread, baby carrots, green grapes, some baked potato chips and a can of unsweetened sparking water. I enjoyed my lunch shortly after arriving. My husband meanwhile ate a plethora of calorie rich hot dishes, a meat and cheese sandwich, beer, desserts including cake and cookies/bars. You see where I am going. He was nourished with dense calorie-filling foods. I became full with my healthy lunch too.
Flash forward to several hours later. We left the gathering with heavy hearts, feeling so much empathy and grief for the loved one who passed and the family members and friends who lost their beloved. We arrived a few minutes late to a 5:00 pm church service that we often attend. It's a progressive kind of liberal church that offers a more casual service and live music performed by area musicians.
I decided to bring in my insulated lunch bag as it was a warm evening and I didn't want my leftover food to get overheated in the car. Plus I had just started feeling a little hungry. After an extremely busy week and weekend with lots of events and socializing, I was exhausted.
There was a lot of standing for the first portion of the service and it was hard for me to find the energy to stand. And my hunger was increasing. I decided to sit down and test my blood sugar. Not low but realizing my body needed more nourishment and calories after not eating enough so far that day, as well as feeling weak and tired, I decided to take a small amount of insulin through my insulin pen and eat a few of the snacks in my bag. With a little nutrition, I was bound to feel my energy level pick up a bit.
I reached into my bag and the only food I had on me was a small baggie of leftover baby carrots and the green grapes I hadn't eaten earlier. I ate the rest of the baby carrots before moving on and eating a small amount of green grapes (making sure not to eat too many and get a high blood sugar). As the service continued on, my immense hunger diminished and I think the nourishment helped my energy level just a little too.
We walked back to the car after church. Once hopping in, by husband brought up the snack I had consumed while in church. Pointing out it was not "socially acceptable" for me to have eaten the baby carrots during church. They were crunchy and it was embarrassing for him.
He didn't think church was an okay place to eat a snack. I let him know all of what I just shared with you, that I was weak after not eating enough and really needed the nourishment. In his mind, if I was not high or low, then I needed to plan better, eating before church or waiting until after. I was taken back and felt hurt by what he was sharing.
Would he rather have me grow weaker and more exhausted just to be more socially acceptable to others?
We didn't have too much of a chance to talk more last evening after we got home. Although I did ask him before he went to sleep, "What good is a church if I cannot take care of the body God has given me while there??"
Still upset this morning, I talked to him before he started work. Through tears, I let him know that it takes a LOT of courage for me to wear my health publicly in the many ways I am forced to. The bruises on my skin from needle pokes (and most recently from an acupuncture treatment), the fatigue that is often shown as dark bags under my eyes, the extra weight that is sometimes lurking -- made more challenging to lose by the way my body now functions with several endocrine system conditions and finally the often frequent need I have to test my blood sugar, take shots with my insulin pens, and eat, whether just a snack or a full meal.
The courage I need to wake up with each day to take care of myself in the best way I know how, now felt bruised. I felt hurt by his feelings but of course could see his side too. I reached out to another close Type 1 friend to inquire with her about what happened. Was I being an insensitive jerk here?
She has lived with diabetes a similar amount of time, since she was a little girl. Her response was similar to mine: "Yea, no way. You needed to eat. You did the right thing. You couldn't wait, you hadn't eaten all damn day. No way. You totally did the right thing!! I would have done the same damn thing!!!"
A huge sense of relief washed over me. After he shared his feelings with me, I felt so concerned all of a sudden that I was in the wrong... even though I have worked so hard to push all vanity aside to be healthy over the years. Maybe it was wrong I do this?!?
I do not want to feel awkward or self-conscious doing any of the number of things I need to that keep me alive, healthy and well. I want to continue to take care of my health in the best way I know how while in the comfort of my own home or public.
He of course said he was sorry and that he did not mean to hurt my feelings. I told him that what happened with me in church is far different from a healthy man with no health concerns opening up and eating a bag of nacho cheese Doritos while in church. That would not be very respectful. But my reason for eating felt far from that.
I don't think he had any idea the impact his words would have on me. He was just sharing his feelings about a situation that has actually never happened while we are together in church in over six years of marriage. It would be his preference in the future that I plan ahead rather than eat in places that silence is most appropriate.
I on the other hand will work hard to continue to act courageously in the many public places that my health demands attention. If the people around me have a problem, they can try living in my body just for a week and see how they handle it. My health does have to come first! I will not change my stance on that, crunchy carrots that keep my blood sugars in line or not. I will also continue to plan to the best of my ability in taking care of my health. But we all know how challenging our health can be. We just do the best job we can some days...
I'm wondering where you stand on the subject. Do you make every effort to keep your health private? Or do you listen to your body, taking care of it in the ways it requires when it lets you know it needs your attention? Does this change if you are in public?
I would really love to hear your thoughts on the situation. Thanks for reading!
In Peace & Wellness,
I welcome you to join my Facebook blog community where I share stories, pictures and inspiration for the body, mind and spirit daily! You can also connect with me on Twitter or sign up below to receive an email in your inbox when I post a new article. Thanks for reading and hope to see you around soon!