Wednesday, June 9, 2010

A dirty little secret

Got your attention with the title, didn't I?  Everyone loves salacious information and gossip, no matter how much they tell you that they don't!  But honestly, this post is not headed in that direction.  This is another one of those topics that I've been thinking about for quite some time and have noticed that very few people talk about this area of having a child with a chronic illness, like diabetes.  Or any other prolonged illness, for that matter.  So, here it is...the dirty little secret....

Chronic illness of a child takes a huge toll on your marriage.

Seriously, it can be so incredibly hard.  My husband and I were still recovering from the trauma of having a second child.  Leo was born in January and I felt like it took a good 6 months for us to recover and get back to something that resembled normal, whatever that might be.  Just as we were finding a new groove and figuring out how to make time for each other in between caring for the two beasties, Lily got sick.  I'll have to share the story one of these days of how she was diagnosed.  Probably not quite the typical scenario for diagnosis.  It threw me for quite a loop, to be honest.  I've been diabetic for so long myself, but the chances of one of my children being diagnosed was supposedly only 5%.  In those early days after a child is diagnosed, you go through so much and are so focused on taking care of your child and trying to deal with your own shock, anger, and denial, that it's easy to overlook the fact that your spouse is going through the same things.  You get so caught up in just getting through the day that it can be easy to lose sight of each other.  It's so ironic.  In times when we should turn to each other and lean on each other the most, we forget that we have that other person to give us support and to support in return.

In the hopes of at least letting other families out there with similar situations know that they are not alone, I'm going to open up a bit about our specific problems.  One of the most frustrating things about diabetes as you get older is that it often goes hand-in-hand with depression.  No one knows why.  I have my theories.  Considering how much extra stress and strain can be added into our dailies lives by blood glucose checks and insulin dosing and weighing every bit of food you eat, is no wonder diabetics become depressed.  I've dealt with chronic depression most of my adult life.  After giving birth each time, I was left with a pretty severe case of postpartum depression.  It took quite a while to find the right medication for me.  My husband has always had a problem with anxiety.  He uses his anxiety as a motivating force and it drives him to strive for perfection.  As our marriage counselor says, put the two together and it's like adding gas to the flames.  Jump ahead in our lives to post-diagnosis.  Many of you with very small children with diabetes realize just how hard it is to keep those numbers in check.  I'm a stay-home mom.  It's my job to keep Lily's numbers where they should be during the day.  My husband would come home from work, look at the logbook and see how badly her blood sugars jumped around and would get upset with me for not doing my job.  It took him a little while to realize that things just weren't that cut-and-dried.  So, we started seeing a marriage counselor.  I can honestly tell is the best decision we have made!  We've both become more aware of how we choose to react to things, what our own weaknesses and short-comings are and how all of those things can affect the other.  Amazing what a difference actually listening to each other and looking at our own part in issues can make!

So there's my dirty little secret for tonight.  My husband and I have not dealt well with Lily's diagnosis in the past and have sought counseling in order to help us learn how to work together.  Things aren't perfect, by any means.  But they're better and we're both happier.  We've figured out how to keep our love and devotion to each other at the front and that has made all the difference!


  1. Thanks for being so open and honest about something most people just want to sweep under the rug. Elise's dx has taken a big toll on our marriage too, but we're fighting through. Things are better now, but it's still hard. I'm a huge believer in counseling, and think EVERYONE can benefit from it.

  2. Babies are hard enough on their own...add diabetes into the mix and shazam! Not a good mix for a marraige. For years, I had to reassure my husband that it would not be like this forever. That I wouldn't constantly cry forever...that eventually we would spend quality time together. I'm not sure he fully believed me, but we have finally reached that place. He told me just the other day that I was right. I always knew without a shadow of a doubt...that if we just endured the chaos for the first 10 years of babies...and 3 diagnosis...that eventually things would become "normal." It wasn't easy...but it was oh so worth it!

    Thanks for talking about what everyone thinks about. :)

  3. Great post! Thanks for sharing this with us, I know that many of us are facing similar struggles in our relationships. I know that for me, having two young daughters under the age of 5 and both of them having type 1 diabetes has caused me to focus more on my kids with little left over for my husband at the end of the day. This is something that I am working on, but it's nice to know that I am not the only one.

    Thanks for sharing!