Women with Diabetes and their Spouses

sisterSTAFF Blog

Women with Diabetes and their Spouses

September 6, 2010

Hi All!  I hope everyone enjoyed Labor Day and didn’t “labor” too much over the holiday!  After sending out our newsletter on Friday, I received an email from Ingrid Straugh, the Editor of Diabetes Self-Management saying that DiabetesSisters is also going to be featured in their Sept/Oct 2010 issue with an article about support programs for people with diabetes.  Yay!  The Sisterhood is growing on a daily basis!  I’m so excited to be a part of it and I hope you are too!  We are also in the midst of launching our first five PODS Meetups outside the Raleigh, NC area.  Start-up packets were sent out this week, so I can’t wait to see things kick-off with the first meetings in October!  More information about dates/locations to come soon!  If you are interested in hosting or attending a monthly PODS Meetup in your area, please contact me at bbarnes@diabetesSisters.org or Kelli Turner at kelli@diabetessisters.org.

Tanya Varanelli, DS Volunteer Coordinator
and Brandy Barnes at PF Chang's

On Friday, I ate lunch with Tanya Varanelli, DiabetesSisters’ Volunteer Coordinator (tanya@diabetessisters.org).  One of our lunch topics related to a conversation that occurred at our last PODS Meetup in August.  To provide a little background-- At our last PODS Meetup, the topic arose about spouses and their involvement in our diabetes management.  Luckily, my husband is the laid-back person in our relationship, so he has never been the “food police” or “diabetes police” type.  One of the ladies at the PODS Meetup discussed how her husband and (adult) daughter are a bit more anxious and tend to ask her what her blood sugar is every time she checks it.  I immediately piped up and said that my husband knew better than to ask me about my blood sugars.  My comment was met with a few comments such as, “What do you mean? How do you stop him from asking?”  The lively conversation that ensued (from those who had spouses that ask what their blood sugar level is and those who didn’t) told me that this is a topic of interest for most women with diabetes.

I recall someone once saying that Type A personalities make the best “diabetics” (not my word choice, but theirs!) because they are task- and goal-oriented; high achievers; and detail-oriented.  Type A personalities are also more likely to seek perfection.  I guess it makes sense, especially when you look at the dynamics of married life.  If the spouse with diabetes has a Type B personality (‘laid-back’), he/she is more likely to let diabetes management fall to the wayside, while his/her Type A spouse tries to achieve the goal of good blood sugar management by competing tasks such as reminding/asking about blood sugar monitoring.  I’m sure there are lots of couples who exist with a Type B person with diabetes and a Type A person without diabetes, but it doesn’t sound like an ideal combination.  In fact, I could see a tendency for ‘diabetes burn out’ in the spouse who doesn’t have diabetes.  On the other hand, if the person with diabetes has a Type A personality, he/she will be the one on top of their diabetes management, checking their blood sugars frequently and scheduling regular check-ups in order to meet his/her own blood sugar management goals.  The Type B spouse can then live in their normal “laid back” lifestyle allowing his/her spouse to discuss diabetes when desired. 

During our lunch, Tanya brought up a good point.  What happens when two Type  A personalities or two Type B personalities marry and one of them has diabetes?  I’m sure there are some of you out there who are in this exact situation.  How do you handle the diabetes management aspect with two Type A personalities?  Does it work well because both of you are working together on a goal of tight blood sugar management or do your goals contradict each other?  Do you have certain measures in place to ease your Type A spouse’s anxiety and concerns?  If you are both Type B personalities, how is your diabetes managed?  Do you find it harder or easier to be with a person who also has a Type B personality? I am interested to hear from you on this topic.  Based on the conversation our last PODS Meetup, I am certain there are many women who want to hear about your experiences and learn from them.

Not sure whether you are a Type A or Type B personality?….take this brief quiz on Discovery Health:  http://discoveryhealth.queendom.com/type_a_personality_access.html  You may want to ask your spouse to take it as well!  I’m sure it would be a great conversation starter!