A Husband's Tale - What I Have Learned About Diabetes
October 1, 2013
I have learned so much about diabetes since Brandy and I met back in 1996. I was completely clueless when we met, even asking her, “Are you so important that you need a pager?”. Little did I know at the time that it was her pancreas (insulin pump). Brandy’s outlook on having diabetes has always been positive from the moment that I met her, so I never saw it as an obstacle in our relationship.
Over the 17 years total that we have been together there have certainly been ups and downs with our permanent family member known as diabetes. Diabetes has taught me to be more observant than normal. I am comfortable in what I would need to do if there was a low blood sugar—we’ve experienced it more than I could ever count. But I feel most helpless when Brandy is experiencing an abnormally high blood sugar. I can tell she feels really bad because she lays down and doesn’t want to talk to anyone.
Most recently, I felt this helplessness over Labor Day Weekend 2013. Brandy had trouble with a bottle of insulin not working, and at the same time, her CGM was not reading her blood sugars correctly. After a nice dinner out with family, Brandy woke up after midnight with a “HIGH” reading, feeling worse ever. It was alarming for me to watch her feeling so bad-- lying in bed, clutching her stomach, not wanting to talk, and not wanting to move out of fear that any movement would cause her to vomit. First, she changed her Omnipod, thinking that maybe it was not delivering her insulin. Her blood sugar did eventually come down to about 220, but she couldn’t get it any lower. As soon as the pharmacy opened on Sunday morning, she was waiting to buy a new vial of insulin. She also changed her CGM site that morning and calibrated it.
Once she took a shot of the new insulin, she almost immediately began feeling better. I was amazed. The lack of potency in the first vial of insulin was what caused this entire problem. Yet, she had to go through a lot of feeling bad, problem-solving, quick decision-making, and inconvenience to finally get to a resolution. She also had to change her Omnipod again to fill it with the new insulin. She vaguely mentioned that she was on the last Omnipod that she had packed, but I didn’t realize what a big deal that was her Omnipod began to peel off (something she has never experienced before) at the pool later that day. Again, she had to improvise (and think quickly) by getting band-aids and tape from the pool’s first aid kit until we got home on Monday afternoon. This is just one of the troublesome, challenging situations that Brandy has experienced with her diabetes. I’m sure there are many, many more that I am completely unaware of. Yet, she manages all of this quietly while juggling all of the regular challenges of motherhood, adulthood, family, and career. Rarely complaining, always “MacGyver-esque” in her quick-thinking and problem-solving.
Brandy is the love of my life and a wonderful wife and mother to Summer. She inspires me every day with her mission of providing an avenue for women to feel supported and live healthy successful lives with diabetes.
As comedian Martin Lawrence would say, “YOU GO GIRL”!
Submitted by Chris Barnes. His wife, Brandy, has lived with type 1 diabetes since 1990. They have a daughter, Summer, and live in Durham, NC.