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?”
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.