Posted by on Monday 15 July 2013

All supporters need support.

Mine is a supporters voice. As Mike's wife I would like to say I am there to support him in all that he needs. I try; though I freely admit to getting as fed up of diabetes as everyone else, I am not a particularly patient person. Anyway, I think the point is that I try. I'm pretty sure we all want to try, all us supporters; but it is not straight forward.

I recently met with a friend who was diagnosed with diabetes over ten years ago. I visited him in hospital, he had pneumonia along with a heap of complications which sounded suspiciously diabetes related. I asked him whether he had type 1 or type 2. He said, "I don't know." I'm not sure how well I hid my shock, I was pretty much lost for words. My friend lives with his mother. He was diagnosed when he was thirty. He is not adept at communication.

I also know his mother, who I am sure has all the feelings that any mother has when they find out their son has diabetes. I know from Mike's mum that that can include guilt, fear, and the desire to wrap in cotton wool and never let out of her sight ever again. My friend, unlike Mike, did not talk to his mother, and his mother, unlike Mike's, did not like to push for answers to the thousand questions simultaneously forming in her head. She has had to cope alone. She hasn't felt able to admit that her son's inability to communicate has left her at a loss as to how to support him. So what she does is try to look after him. She makes sure he always has a good big bowl of cereal for breakfast, and that there is always a choice of puddings on hand after his evening meal. He happily tucks in. The only piece of advice from a dietitian she has ever been present to hear is that a combination of grapes and banana is a really bad idea.

As the mother of a diabetic diagnosed in adulthood, she has never received any support. Mike's mum was in the same position, but blessed with Mike and then of course I came along and took him off her hands, again with no support and it is scary, but Mike helped me through. I am aware that Mike and my friend are at opposite ends of the communicative spectrum, most people must be somewhere in the middle. Mike is on his way to a long, healthy life, I wouldn't be surprised if he outlived me (my family have a history of heart disease). My friend is on his way to dialysis, losing his sight, losing his feet and dying before his mother. I believe his control would be greatly improved if his mother had been offered support. My guess is that most adult diabetics don't live alone, that many don't cook their own meals, so the responsibility for the control of their condition does not fall entirely in their hands. It can and should be shared.

All supporters need support.