The Other Side

Back when Tom had his surgery I wrote a little about his diabetes and how it hadn’t seemed like a big deal for most of our marriage. Tonight I started thinking about that.

A few years ago Tom had a severe insulin reaction where his blood sugar levels were so low that he finally lost consciousness, despite all the sugar he and I were trying to get into him. I could feel this low level panic as I debated what I should do. I think we didn’t have a current glucagon pen in the house because I finally called 911. As I looked at Tom, half lying on the couch and unresponsive, I was so scared. Even though I knew it would be ok, he looked like he was gone.

After that incident, I got kind of annoying about asking how his blood sugars were. Any time it seemed he was acting a little funny or tired I’d be right there with “have you checked?” Tom was gracious and didn’t roll his eyes, though I’m sure there were times when it was only through the exercise of great amounts of self control!

But as can be common with long time diabetics, Tom’s ability to detect low blood sugars by his symptoms got worse with the years, particularly if the drop was slow. I remember one drive home from Utah when I realized something was off. I suggested maybe he should pull over and let me drive. But he was low enough that he couldn’t really process what I was saying (and yes, that was a little terrifying). After multiple clear and calm instructions to “slow down” and “stop the car” he finally pulled over. But I did have this mental image of a terrible accident that I pushed firmly away.

As I look back now, I think that the past few years I’ve lived with a more immediate sense of fear that something would happen to Tom. But I tried not to think about it, or to remind myself that what would happen, would happen and I couldn’t fix it by worrying. I had to trust Tom and the doctors and hope for the best.

When I was a little girl I had a fear of someone breaking into our house and the way I coped with that fear was to imagine the worst thing and what I would do. It’s how I coped with the fear of Tom dying – what if the worst happened and he died? What would I do? For the first time I’m having to live out those plans. It really kind of sucks. But I think maybe that coping skill has been a blessing too, because I have had a plan of sorts to fall back on that I haven’t had to really think about.

And now the fear is gone. It isn’t lurking in the back of my mind. I don’t have to be resolute about resisting the urge to worry. The thing that I feared has happened and now I’m living on the other side of it.

31. January 2015 by tjsjohanna
Categories: Family | Tags: , | 3 comments

Comments (3)

  1. There is something relieving and empowering about experiencing that which you feared most. I have experienced it twice in my short life. Thank you for bringing clarity and giving voice to what we have both learned.

  2. I do this a lot. I imagine what would happen if my husband passed away. What do you wish you would have done prior, had you known what was coming?

    • I don’t have a lot of wishes, fortunately. When Tom was recovering from heart surgery I wish we had talked more about my fear of his dying. But we did get to share some things about each other because he was having surgery, which was a blessing. I wish I had come home from Utah a day earlier so I could have been home when he died.

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