We told her this would happen--Wife in hospital

My wife is diabetic, but refuses to accept or admit it. It took us years of “that’s a symptom” pushing to get her to go to the doctor the first time, and she kept it under control for a couple years with diet and Metformin, then I lost my job and our insurance ran out and she stopped caring. I’d say, “It’s a doctor’s appointment every couple months, Metformin’s on the $4 schedule at Target, and we can scare up the money for the test strips,” but she’d just handwave everything away.

A couple years ago she stopped driving because she couldn’t feel which pedal her foot was on, and she–and I–became limited in the jobs we took by needing to coordinate our commutes. In recent months she’s needed a daughter to take her arm so she could walk to and from the car, but she refuses to use a cane. She recently had a blister on her foot that kept her from walking, but she wouldn’t show it to me.

She has also had three bouts of pneumonia since October, and was supposed to get a chest x-ray, but today she could barely stand and FINALLY got it through her thick skull that maybe she should go to the ER instead. “They’d probably just admit me, anyway.”

I saw why she was hiding that “blister.” The outside third of her foot was that pale yellow of a deep blister, under the thickened skin. In the central part there was a blackened area where the skin was gone, about 70mm x 20mm, which my daughter said smelled so bad it almost triggered a seizure. The doctor called it “pre-gangrenous,” but he wasn’t sure it hadn’t crossed the line. He asked her if she had ever been diagnosed with diabetes, and she said, “I had gestational diabetes with our kids, but they said it would go away.”

“Nothing since then?”

“Oh, no.”

I’m glad I stuck around because I said, “Why are you lying like that? You’ve been under treatment for years, then just stopped doing anything for it. A couple months ago there was a box of sharps on the carport that fell out of the bag when you threw out your insulin.”

“It was old.”

That, at least, may have told the doctors to not trust her, or to check her records because she was first treated there. And that may explain why she went to an unaffiliated Doc-in-a-Box the last couple times she had pneumonia–they didn’t have her medical records.

And yes, Oldest and I diagnosed her untreated and unmentioned depression years ago, and cry on each others shoulders because she responds to any medical suggestion with either a handwave or bullying. “I know more about medicine than you do because I was an x-ray tech 25 years ago.” Yeah, well Oldest and I both know more about treating minor insanity than she, and after getting out of the hospital for breaking my ribs in a fall a couple years ago, I know a lot more tricks to getting up after falling when you really can’t. But I haven’t parroted the, “Don’t help her; she has to do this herself,” and “You have twenty minutes to get up or I call the paramedics,” lines back at her.

Instead, I will be supportive, but no more allowing her to lie to people who want to help. Whatever her thoughts on the matter, she’s not losing that foot on my watch.

Wow. She’s very lucky to have you.
Very lucky.

Seeing someone you love sick is difficult at best.
My thoughts are with you and your family.

Oh hell, dropzone :frowning:

I’m expecting to have similar tales about my mother some day - the lying to doctors (to everybody really) is the reason I prefer to go with her on doctor visits when possible. When she was put on insuline, my brothers’ reaction was “oh hell, Mom’s getting worse”; hers was “hooray, now I can eat anything I want!”

Sucks when the people you care about insist in ignoring the writing on the wall.

OTOH, it means I have to start taking better care of myself. The moral high ground is hard to attain and harder to maintain, and I’ll probably live longer because of this. :wink:

Sorry, I was whistling past the graveyard there. I tried to stay cheerful while we were at the hospital, which she hates because I crack stupid little jokes. When we got home I collapsed. My daughters then went to a friend’s house, but before she left Oldest asked if I was going to be alright, which has come to be her code for, “are you going to get drunk?”

“I’m scared to death of what’s going to happen, but I have 742 days. I can make another.”

This is my father, too. He thinks taking a pill for his diabetes makes it all go away. Despite the fact that his blood work is crap (glucose too high, and recently, RBC way too low). My sister and I are constantly having to ask to see details of the reports, because we don’t trust the filtered “everything’s ok” message we get in e-mail. We’re also the ones that have to point out that the celluitis in is legs isn’t improving, and maybe he should see someone besides his podiatrist about it.

dropzone, best wishes for you and the wife. Pushing someone else through into proper medical care is hard, especially when resources are limited. I hope you have a good support system of your own to lean on, because this can/will be draining.

That sounds enormously goddamn frustrating.

My mom has developed diabetic retinopathy and is half-blind, but never improved her eating habits. At least she goes to doctor’s appointments regularly, but she doesn’t try to fix the problem. I couldn’t deal with it and eventually (gladly) moved halfway across the country. I don’t know how you do it.

Diabetes denial is such a burden not only to the diabetic but also to those around the diabetic - I’m so sorry you’re going through this. I’m afraid I have no magic solutions, either, though I wish I did.

Good luck getting through this. It hurts so much to see someone you love ignore a treatable and controllable medical condition because they just don’t want to deal with it.

My dad is also a diabetic of the “I’ll keep drinking Coke, because now I can just take more insulin to fix my sugar” variety. At least he does check his sugar regularly, so I suppose I should be grateful for that, but he hasn’t even tried to change a single thing about his diet or lifestyle. And he’s got no money set aside for long-term care. I don’t see a bright future here.

I had an assistant whose husband would gauge his insulin according to how much he planned on drinking that night. She often missed work nursing him because he got it wrong. Years later at a different company I saw him interviewing for a job. I shoulda kept my yap shut because he might’ve changed (he was alive, not blind, and with all four limbs), but I mentioned it to the guy who had interviewed him.

Which reminds me of the other part of the story for my family, at least. As mentioned above (and elsewhere), my Dad is full diabetic. I’m pre-diabetic. (A1C consistently 5,7 or 5.8, fasting glucose about 108…although my new doc doesn’t like the term pre-diabetic, so he calls me diabetic.) It’s taken a long time to my parents to provide a diabetic friendly option when I have dinner over there. Too many white potatoes for my taste. And too many unhealthy desserts.

So what comes of all this? My Mom is starting to show high blood sugar too. Hopefully she’ll start making real changes.

dropzone, I’m sorry you and Mrs. drop and your family are going through this - my thoughts are with you!

I have a close relative that was exactly like this. He would eat cake, check his sugar levels and pop insulin to “take care of it”. I saw him last December and he said: “I’ve been doing this for years, get off my back.”

I’m off now, his funeral was last Tuesday. He was 2 years my senior.

I’m very sorry you and your kids are having to deal with your wife’s complete denial of harsh reality, dropzone. I was a medical lab tech about 25 years ago (kind of like your wife!) - I got to see plenty of people who didn’t look after their diabetes (they get their blood drawn many times per day for glucose level checks). Amputations, blindness, serious mental problems, living in a hospital - I am having a very hard time understanding why your wife is choosing that route over making some effort to look after herself.

I’m so sorry. My father was a very compliant and conscientious diabetic, so for most of my life I never knew anyone would ignore it. But now I know different, with people in my husband’s family dying for lack of will to take care of themselves. It’s an awful thing and hard for us to understand. Good luck, and I hope she will come around before it’s too late.

She got her foot debrided today. “Any gangrene?”

“Just a little.”


I feel for you. I’m so sorry you’re dealing with this.

My first husband waffled between super conscientious and completely negligent about his diabetes. One of the difficulties with him was that he was very VERY hard to regulate with insulin, even when he was eating beautifully. His blood sugar would spike and crash, spike and crash. I think he was on three oral meds and two (or three?) types of insulin when he died.

It’s a horrible disease.

Like with other health issues like addiction or weight loss, we can see what’s best for others, but we can’t make them do it. We can love them and try to help, but we can’t actually force them to take good care of themselves. I think this is the hardest thing about love.

That’s the thing–a few years ago, when she was taking care of it, it was beautifully regulated with diet, metformin, and gila monster venom. Now, this.

Ah, yes Byetta.

Noncompliant diabetics are the worst patients. Every hospital has a teenager or young adult, or several, who spend so much time there, they almost have their own personal ICU bay. They seldom see their 25th birthday, in part because they engage in so many other self-destructive behaviors.

There’s a psychotherapist in the St. Louis area who specializes in treating noncompliant diabetics. Now, THAT is an exercise in futility. :frowning:

OP, I’m curious to know how the PPACAA and its implementation are affecting your family’s access to diabetes management tools. If it’s not too personal a question.

Don’t know yet. I just signed up last week. Yeah, I have some mental problems of my own resulting in inexplicable procrastination. Her mental problems include, after 38 years of marriage, still expecting me to do something before well-past the last minute. It’s through BCBS and they have a diabetes management program.

Since she really went in for pneumonia that seems to be doing well. She sounds healthier on the phone (I’m not visiting because I have a cold and don’t want to wipe out the ICU) than she has in ages. Maybe years. She does not take care of herself.

“Did you get your flu and pneumonia shots yet? They’ve been keeping me alive.”

“No, I’m a little sick and you aren’t supposed to get those unless you are healthy.”


OTOH, because I’m regular like clockwork with my shots, this little cold gave me an excuse to cut out of work early while not eventually killing me. Win-win!