Diabetes & Its Emotional & Financial Effects on a Family
Diabetes Runs in the Family
When a friend was diagnosed with diabetes type 2, he wasn't surprised as it runs in the family. His father had diabetes and so was his eldest brother.
The news, however, affected the wife. Although she was depressed initially, she later learned to adjust, and came out stronger.
Find out how diabetes affected the Wong family, and how they cope and seek support.
Living with Diabetes
Wong's father died of diabetes and is eldest brother lost a toe, due to diabetes. So it was understandable for Wong's wife, Anna, to be worried and have negative thoughts.
They say that diabetes T2 is a disease for life and there is no cure for it. This is another reason for Anna to feel depressed.
(Note: There are reports, however, that claimed to have a cure for diabetes, through natural remedies and through stem-cell treatment. Talk to your doctor on these alternative treatments)
Types of Diabetes
There are three types: Type 1, which is insulin-dependent diabetes; Type 2, which is non-insulin dependent diabetes; and Gestational diabetes, which is carbohydrate intolerance.
Diabetes Type 1
The body's insulin-producing cells in the pancreas are destroyed and patients have to inject themselves with insulin daily. Occur mostly in children, but can also occur to people of any age.
Diabetes Type 2
T2 is the most common diabetes and is generally genetic in origin. This can also occur due to poor lifestyle. Caused by the inability of cells to use insulin properly.
Develop during pregnancy and generally occur in women with a family history of diabetes that are obese and of a late maternal age. It can increase problems for both mothers and babies.
Diagnosed with Diabetes
Anna had seen both her father-in-law and brother-in-law taking medications and changing diets and lifestyle. These exposures had in some way given her a bit of knowledge on diabetes.
This came in handy when diabetes struck her own husband. However, her initial reaction was whether she can cope up with this unnecessary burden.
Diabetes and Family Support
She is, however, lucky to have her own parents to turn to for help as initially she could not discuss her fear of diabetes with her husband.
Religion and Support
Although born a Buddhist, she was not practicing it. Her parents encouraged her to turn to religion for comfort and guidance.
It was here that she finally found peace. It gave her the courage to talk and discuss her anxiety with her husband. She also slowly opens up to friends and relatives.
She also learns to accept her family's fate and learn to make adjustments.
Diabetes and Stress
Wong 'I don't care' attitude also make it difficult for Anna. She had to monitor his medication, encourage him to adapt to a new lifestyle, change his diet, and go for frequent brisk walk.
These added additional pressures on her, and it can be quite challenging. Quitting her job is out of the question, they both need the additional income. They have also started to save, for future medical bills!
Saving for Future Medical Cost
For now, medical cost is through Wong’s company medical coverage. He did not take up any medical insurance and will have to save for future expenses during his retirement days.
Products with Phthalates
Products that we used daily such as deodorants and colognes may have an ingredient, phthalates. As reported in the journal, Environmental Health Perspectives, this can give you higher chances of developing diabetes.
To reduce this exposure, buy fragrance-free products, which have lower level of this life-threatening ingredient. If you cannot help it, then eat plenty of fresh vegetables and fruits.
During the initial months of the diagnosis, there were frequent doctor's appointments. Anna was determined to know more and took leave to attend with her husband for the doctor's appointment.
The time spent on these doctor's appointments, additional time spent with the kids and time spent to learn more on the needs of a diabetic patient, are some of the sacrifices a family member has to make.
Diabetes is a Full Time Job
She is committed and determined to give support to Wong. In addition, she also had to attend to the needs of their two boys and to her own emotional needs. These challenges had turned Anna into a stronger woman.
They say that diabetes is a full time job. It is, and you got to be strong to handle it.
Diabetic Diet and Other Changes in Lifestyle
Wong and the family started to adjust to the new lifestyle and the things that they do are:
- Anna learnt to buy and cook diabetic friendly food
- She joined Wong in his brisk morning walk. Sometimes, even the two boys will tag along
These changes and adjustments to the new lifestyle were not easy initially, but they preserver.
Diabetes and Marriage
Despite the pressure and the pain that they went through, their marriage relationship remains strong.
Some relationships may not be so lucky. They may need a counselor that specializes in illness such as diabetes to come in and help. Coping with the pressures and knowing how to handle every situation may be tough. A counselor can help them deal with all these situations.
Economic Impact of Diabetes
About 24 million Americans have diabetes and this number keep increasing. America spent $116 billion in 2012 for medication and it costs the country about $58 billion due to lost in productivity, disability, and death.
If a diabetic patient and their family members know more about the disease, and what to expect, it will be easier to manage a situation.
For example, emotional stress can release hormones that may neutralize the effect of insulin. This can disrupt blood sugar level. This can make a diabetic patient irritable or have strong mood swing. Hence, it can affect relationship with their spouse, children, friends, and other family members.
There are free seminars, talk, or counselling services that all family members can attend. Ask your doctor for more information on these. All these information and knowing more about diabetes will help you understand the emotional and mental stress that your loved one will go through. This in turn, will help you too.
The following are links to a few of the Diabetes Associations in the world. Some of these associations offer support and counseling services to patients and family of diabetic patients. You may want to check their websites for more information.
Some families are able to cope with the pressure of having a diabetic patient in their family, whilst some, may not. Whichever is the situation, seek help and support early.
Your parents, friends, and doctors are avenues to get support and encouragement. It is recommended that you go beyond these networks.
Join a diabetes support group, online or at your local centers. You will gain invaluable information on how others are coping and adjusting to the effects of diabetes on their family. Share and connect with them. They understand the difficulties and emotions that you are experiencing.
References and Resources
- Healthdirect Australia - Types of Diabetes
- American Diabetes Association: Living With Diabetes
- Mayo Clinic - Type 2 Diabetes
- WebMD - Diabetes Health Center