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My girlfriend has had insulin dependent diabetes since around twelve years of age. She is now twenty four and we have been together almost two years. She takes her insulin as required but takes no interest in monitoring herself or taking any care of what she eats, drinks, or does in general. I have never known her to test her blood sugar levels and her opinions of her diabetes doctor is that she is an annoyance and to be ignored. I know that I don't know much about diabetes, but I have read quite a lot about it over the last year or so. The problem seems to be that she hates her diabetes and as a result almost purposely does not care about her treatment. She knows about the problems and what she should be doing to prevent them, but refuses to even try and gets angry when I try to suggest things.

I would like to know if there is anything I can do to help her or change her thinking about helping herself. I feel that when I say things I really don't have an opinion about them because I am not diabetic and thus it's not my place to tell her what she should be doing. Do both of us need help or am I just trying too hard and becoming an annoyance to her?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.


This is a not uncommon story in a 'young adult' clinic for diabetics. There are a lot of components to this apparently self-destructive attitude, denial, a need to control those around her, and perhaps depression. Beyond being patient, there is not a lot you can do other than trying to get your girlfriend to go to an established diabetes team: that is, a group that not only has a doctor, but also a nurse educator, a nutritionist, and above all, a medical social worker. Patients like this may start by not accepting the medical professional staff; but a good social worker is often seen as being 'on the patient's side.' Quite often the social worker can sort things out; but sometimes it requires more prolonged supervision.

Your job is to find such a clinic and get your girlfriend there. You might start by contacting the nearest office of the American Diabetes Association. Officially they may be reluctant to recommend anyone especially; but there will not be more than one or two such groups within driving distance.


Original posting 2 Dec 96


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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:52
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