One evening last week, I found myself really frustrated with the diabetic in my life. He was short with me for no apparent reason, and was acting annoyed by every one and every thing. I hadn’t done anything wrong, so I found myself getting angry and pulling back (ignoring and avoiding him). Finally I blurted out “Why are you mad at me? What did I do?” He looked completely stunned. “What? I’m not mad at you!” he answered. “Then why are you being such a grump and complaining about everything?” I asked. “It’s a long story, ” he answered. “Well, try me,” I responded.
What he shared was something I should have recognized. He had a long and stressful day at work, but the worst part of his day was that his blood sugar was uncontrollably high, and he had done nothing “wrong” to have caused it. He didn’t eat anything out of the ordinary, he didn’t skip any part of his normal routine. But for whatever reason, his body wasn’t responding to the insulin from his pump like it normally does. Maybe his insertion site needed to be changed, maybe his insulin had been compromised and wasn’t as effective as normal, maybe he was coming down with something that his body was busy fighting, maybe the stress of the day was keeping him high. Maybe it was all of the above.
I interpreted his stress and frustrations as having something to do with me. When in fact, it was 100% blood sugar and diabetes related. He is normally so positive, proactive, on top of his management, that I simply didn’t think about the root cause of his mood. Here’s a friendly reminder to all the support team members out there— parents, siblings, kids, spouses, friends, co-workers, yes, YOU. Just ask. When there doesn’t seem to be any obvious explanation for a bad mood swing, just ask about how the diabetes management is going. Find out if it’s a blood sugar issue. Be supportive, and be encouraging. The struggle is real. And if you are diabetic yourself, share your struggles. We want to know. The explanation for your behavior and attitude is really helpful. We’ll step up, or back off, whatever helps. But you have to tell us what’s going on.