Lorraine Cook is the wife and caregiver of Steve, who lives with type II diabetes. She shares with us the struggles of trying to reverse lifestyle habits that brought on the condition. Lorraine lives in North Florida and operates a hand-dyed apparel business at www.tiedyedhippy.com.
My husband, Steve, and I have been together since 1992. We were young back then, and in the best shape ever (nice weight and no health problems) but as we age, that’s changing. We are both great cooks but I’m a fantastic baker, and that’s become a problem. We love good food and baked treats in particular. Add in the fact that we both quit smoking (which notoriously causes weight gain) and we seemed to be buying clothes more often. Not because we liked new clothes but because we were getting bigger.
Several years ago, Steve had his blood glucose checked and it was a little high. We chalked it up to the sweets I was making and decided okay, we’ll stop except at holiday time. That worked great for a while. Because of my husband’s weight, though, his sugar kept creeping higher and higher. Cutting back on baked goods wasn’t enough.
We couldn’t always count on two steady incomes so the budget was tight and it was often difficult to eat well. We couldn’t afford to buy fresh vegetables, chicken, or fish. We compromised by cutting carbs here and there, but without basic healthy foods in our cupboard it was a constant struggle.
Another visit to the doctor only confirmed what we knew already: he was going to have to start taking medication to control his sugar. Although it helped, the fact that we still weren’t eating healthy meant the medicine couldn’t fully do its job.
Besides the hurdle of a tight budget, we’ve also been pressed for time. Since I work mornings outside the home, and Steve works nights, we rarely see each other. We cross paths for a half hour or so in the afternoon to ask each other “What did you eat today? Was it sort of good for you? Did you remember your medicine? What are you eating for supper tonight?”
We had no game plan for how to tackle his diet. Since he would sleep until it was time to go to work, he’d have no time to cook. I’d come home from my job and make myself something to eat but it was hardly ever healthy. It’s a pattern that has been hard to break.
As time went by, Steve eventually became insulin dependent and now has to give himself an injection with every meal. It was overwhelming to think that we had even more to learn–and more to fear!
Finally, I faced the fact that even though Steve’s the one with the diagnosis, I’m not immune to this either. I’m also overweight and, with two siblings who have type II diabetes, maybe I should be concerned for myself. I decided that I should diet and exercise right along with Steve, not only to show him support, but to head off joining him in his insulin dependence. Besides, maybe it would be easier for him to make the right choices if I was trying as well.
We’ve come a long way since then, but we still struggle with issues like finding recipes that are diabetic-friendly or finding room in the budget for fresh fruits and vegetables. We’re trying to learn more about how being a type II diabetic affects your body, what different foods do, and what’s safe to eat.
We’ve had some good fortune along the way as well. The added income from my hand-dyed apparel business has allowed us to buy more expensive (and healthier) foods. And my husband now has a job with excellent health insurance, so he was able to change doctors. His new doctor is more active in his care and is taking time to educate us both about living with type II diabetes.
Taking even the smallest steps toward better health for both of us has turned our lives around. Access to better medical care from a doctor who is really working with us has made us realize how serious type II diabetes can be.
We’re learning all we can, visiting sites like http://www.diabetes.org/ and keeping the conversation going with Steve’s doctor. Because of our good health insurance my husband is able to have regular blood work and other tests, but best of all we’ll be able to consult with a nutritionist in the near future.
Together we have hope and faith that we can win this battle but it’s not going to be easy. When it comes to the effects of lifestyle choices, we’re learning how hard it can be to undo the effects of a lifetime of bad choices.
Thank you, Lorraine for sharing your caregiver story!
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