Wife of Diabetic

6 years ago

I hear him slip out of bed and I look at the clock.  1:41AM.  The same mysterious capability that would wake me when my babies were rustling in the other room even before they cried out works here too.  I’m attuned to these particular night sounds.  When he’s up like this, I am on guard.

It’s  the usual routine; first a trip into the bathroom where he tests his blood sugar level, then a trip downstairs.

Usually, he moves like a cat.  He can see in the dark and manages to navigate soundlessly through the bedroom and the house at large.

Me?  Just a trip to the bathroom in the dark becomes a scene from a Jerry Lewis movie.  If there is a Lego to be found in this house, I will step on it with my bare foot.  If there is a squeaky floorboard, I manage to never miss it.  I trip over any obstacle, no matter how inconsequential, left on the floor.

If he dies in this bedroom, there is a 50% chance it was his diabetes, but there is an equal chance I bludgeoned him with his own shoe after tripping over it.  “How. Many. Times. Have. I. Asked. You. ..”

But we’ll save the bludgeoning for another day.

Now it is a quarter to two in the morning and I lie in bed listening to him head downstairs for some juice or whatever he gets to bring his blood glucose back to normal.  I wonder “Should I put my pajama pants on, just in case?”

See, my father-in-law lives here so when I have to run through the house at night to perform emergency life-saving procedures, I like to be dressed.  It was the diabetes that was to blame the time my father-in-law saw my boob.  No repeatsies, ya know?

I hear him down there fixing something to eat or drink, and he’s not as quiet as a cat this time – he’s banging things around, much louder than usual.  To me, this is one of those subtle clues.  That must mean lower-than-usual blood-sugar.  Wonder how low he was?  Should I get up?  Or do I wait for the CRASH-THUMP of his body hitting before I go running?  That’s how it usually goes.  Where did I put that emergency glucagon shot after our last trip?  Is it back where it belongs in the medicine cabinet?  Should I put my pants on?

Maybe we shouldn’t have put granite counters in the kitchen.

I mean, the kids are all old enough that I don’t worry so much about them hitting their precious noggins on it – but my husband is a diabetic.

Laminate would have been less deadly.

I hope there’s not a thump.

I’m putting my pants on anyway, just in case.

Fortunately, I hear him coming back up the stairs and he climbs back into bed.

“You OK?” I ask.

“Yeah.  Just low.” he says.

Low is a word that carries a ton of meaning when you’re the wife of a diabetic.  I find myself asking him all the time whether he is low.  If he is sweating when I’m not even the least bit warm, I ask “Are you low?”  When he’s acting goofy about something, “Are you low?”  Sometimes diabetics are just goofy – it doesn’t always mean they’re low.  But I ask.

For awhile there, we were having lots of issues with these lows sneaking up on him, and I would ask a lot.  To him, the question started sounding like an accusation.  To me, I asked it as a sort of verbal warning bell.

Ding. Ding.  Diabetes, Round 8.

We are fortunate in that we rarely have marital spats that get the adrenaline pumping, but when we have, I’ve had to worry about his blood sugar.  Adrenaline will do funny things, and if he drops fast when emotions are already high, he gets aggressive, kind of like a mean drunk.    Fortunately, in 18 years there have only been a couple times where this type of situation has caused him to push things too far.  In the heat of the moment, I just think he’s an asshole but later I blame the disease.

We’ve had some doozies of run-ins with this opponent.

But tonight, he’s back in bed.  “Just a little low.” he says.  “Go back to sleep.” he says.

“I was lying here wondering if your head would hit the granite.” I say.

“You can’t get out of sex that easily.” he replies.

And this is how I know he’s not too low.  He’s not good at smart-assy jokes when he’s really low, so it’s a sign that he’s fine.  For now.

“Go back to sleep.” he says, but I can’t.  My head is swimming with these words you’re reading right now.  “I have to go downstairs and write.” I say.

“Why?” he asks.

“They need to know.  It’s hard being the wife of a diabetic.” I reply.

He laughs.  “I imagine it’s marginally less difficult than being the actual diabetic.”

He’s got a point there.  At least my support group gets cupcakes.

Wife of a Diabetic

If you’re so inclined, go donate to the American Diabetes Association and thank you.

Linda Doty began blogging in 2005. Sometimes, she writes something serious and important, but mostly she writes about things like SpongeBob and red Skittles in an effort to ascertain whether the world thinks she is as funny as she believes herself to be.

fabulously imperfect | Twitter @JustLindaSTL

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