Recipes For Type 1

Home
About Us
Recipes
Helpful Items
Support Now
For Loved Ones
Carb Card
Food Blog

Things to know:

For Loved Ones

Type 1 Diabetes
Type 2 Diabetes
Gestational Diabetes
Phases of Grief
Tips for Caregivers
Ways to Help

 

   If someone close to you has diabetes you find yourself wanting to help in every way possible. When I first met Rob, he had been diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes two years earlier. Apparently, he had it the majority of his life only no one caught it. Unfortunately, by the time he was aware, he had nerve and kidney damage. When he was faced with this reality, it was a shock and like many people, he went through various phases of dealing with it. He was angry and depressed. Rob refused to accept this was his fate and eventually he settled on pretending this disease wasn't as bad as people made it out to be. He began drinking excessively and taking shots only when his high blood sugar was high enough to make him sick.

   At first, I really didn’t understand this disease. I wasn’t aware how to spot the signs of high or low blood sugar, and I definitely didn’t know the damage it could do. I figured, because he is the diabetic, he should know how to manage it and would only ask my help if he needed it. The issue was that Rob didn’t know how to handle it. His typical response to sugary foods put in front of him was, “Its ok, I have insulin.” He also doesn’t like inconveniencing people or asking others to change their plans on his account. 90% of the time, he went with it knowing full well the sickness that awaited him.

   I can’t even explain the frustrations we both went through when I’d ask him if he wanted Chinese for dinner and instead of saying maybe I shouldn’t, he’d say yes. Afterwards he’d be sick all night because he ate too many carbs laced with msg. Part of it was him not wanting me to alter my dinner plans and the other was the idea swirling that I should have known better than to offer the passive diabetic a terrible food choice. He never said that to me but the conversations we had afterwards led me to feel that way and he was correct. I should have known better than to tempt him with food he shouldn’t eat…for the 4th time that week.

   It was clear that he couldn’t do this alone. He needed help on two fronts. First someone had to speak up for him. He’s a shy, quiet man who doesn’t want people not to like him. I don’t care if people don’t like me. So, with his permission, I took it upon myself to tell people we had to get no salt chips and that Rob couldn’t eat a huge piece of chocolate cake or drink sugary mixed beverages. I started sharing foods like that with him so he could still taste it. It was hard for people at first but in the end, they were more frustrated with me than with him, which is fine in my book. Nowadays, I don't even think about saying something. He's so on top of it and feels much more comfortable speaking up. The second, and probably most important thing he needed, was emotional support. He always thought people were judging him and were angry. My friends and I spent a lot of time making him feel welcome and helping him to understand that we’re here to help and make his life easier, not harder.

   After some time, Rob started to feel like a normal person again. All the mental caution tape that once been put up was being cut down. We found cooling wallets so that he could carry his insulin with him anywhere he went without needing ice. With that we were able to go on a 4 day camping trips without him having to stress all the time. I noticed that he wasn't as depressed as he use to be. He stopped spending so much time talking about how life was unfair and how people didn’t like him.

   As someone who has watched the person they love start at the bottom and work their way up, my advice to someone else experiencing the same, is to listen. Try to understand what they are going through and what their wants and desires are. Remember that although this is a serious condition that needs to be addressed immediately, this is a shock for some people who has discovered it later on in life. They will most likely go through the various phases of grief and they need your loving support, not your scolding finger. Positive support is always the best solution. You both know (s)he shouldn’t be eating that snickers bar. It’s likely though that they are beating themselves up for it, they don’t need negativity coming from their support team. Try helping them find a healthier alternative to the sugary snack they are craving.

   You should also start trying to recognize when they are experiencing high or low blood sugar. Sometimes, it sneaks up on them. For example, when Rob's sugar is high, his hands get sweaty and he's a little goofy. When it's low, he is irritable and gets frustrated over things that normally wouldn't bother him. Out of respect for his opinions and feelings, I try to avoid saying things like "You're being unreasonable, test your sugar". Many times I'll say something like, "I don't want to argue while I'm hungry, let's go eat" or "Are you thirsty? Want some grapefruit juice?" After 5 min he'll start to calm down and he'll figure out his sugar was low.

   If you’re dealing with nerve damage you’ll want to make sure they check their feet. That seems weird I know, but Rob walked around for a good minute with a piece of glass sticking out of his foot and he didn’t know it was there until our friend noticed the blood. Rob never felt it and actually thought it was a little funny. I, on the other hand, was freaking out because it could have gotten infected.

   It’s important to understand the differences between type 1 and type 2 diabetes. If you truly want to help this special person in your life, you have to learn as much as you can not only about the medical facts but the emotional and psychological aspects as well.