Learning how to be the husband of a diabetic
My name’s David and I’m the Co-Founder & Managing Editor of this website – InDiabetes.
My wife Kritika is the Founder of InDiabetes and a type 1 diabetic.
Our hope with InDiabetes is that it will build a community of diabetics, who can help provide advice, empathy and support to each other. We think a big step to achieving this will be diabetics coming together and sharing their stories, advice and experiences.
So to get started, we thought we’d share ours…
Part 1 – Boy meets girl
When I first met Kritika, I didn’t know she was a diabetic. She didn’t talk about it and diabetes isn’t a disease you can easily ‘see’. She was just a smart, funny girl who I enjoyed spending time with.
I only became aware she was a type 1 diabetic when we started dating. And it was only as I spent more time with her, and learned more about the disease, that I realised she made on average 100+ more decisions per day than I did (covering everything from what to eat to how to exercise) and was in a constant battle to stay healthy.
What impact has this had on our relationship and our lives together?
- Kritika struggles to keep her energy levels up. She often has difficulty sleeping, and even after a long rest will still feel tired.
- Sometimes, if her blood glucose level is too high or too low, it will affect her mood. She can become more easily irritated, sad or angry.
- Her feet are often painful, and if she gets any cuts or injuries they need to be monitored closely because they usually don’t heal as quickly as they should.
The only thing I can really do when any of these things happen is be patient and empathetic – And offer lots of foot rubs.
I also try to support her in other ways. For example:
- I started carrying sweets in my pockets, in case we’re ever out together and her blood glucose level starts to drop.
- I adjusted my diet to be more diabetes-friendly – We cook together and high-carb dishes like pasta, potatoes and white rice are very rarely on the menu.
- I established a regular workout routine that takes into account her needs, so we could exercise together.
And I started learning more about diabetes, so I could better understand what she was going through and how I could help.
Part 2 – Learning and getting in sync
When I first started learning about diabetes, I was very focused on insulin and injections – As a type 1 diabetic, Kritika needs to inject insulin multiple times a day.
In my head, I pictured movie-style scenes in which she would collapse and I’d have to quickly force an injection into her to save her life!
Spoiler: This has never happened, and is absolutely NOT what you should do – What you should do if a diabetic collapses is call an ambulance. If you know their blood glucose level is low, you can maybe rub honey on their gums. DO NOT try to give them an insulin injection, you’ll almost certainly just make things worse.
Now, I know better.
- I understand that living with diabetes is a marathon of small decisions, and for the most part it comes down to simply making smart lifestyle choices – Choices that, if made correctly, can ensure you still live a long and happy life.
- I know that diabetes is a unique and highly subjective disease. Everybody is different, and every diabetic has different struggles. Struggles that change from hour to hour, and day to day. And that what works for some diabetics will not work for others. Or may stop working. Or may only work sometimes.
- I learned that effectively managing diabetes means more than just taking care of your body. It means taking care of your mental health as well. And protecting yourself from diabetes burnout is just as important as measuring your carbohydrates, monitoring your blood glucose level, and taking the correct amount of insulin.
And I learned that connecting with others and receiving emotional and mental support can make a huge difference.
Part 3 – Building a future together
While I can provide support to Kritika, she’s not the only person living with diabetes – Research has shown that more than 77 million people in India have diabetes, and over half the population are at risk of developing diabetes.
So what can we do to support this growing number of diabetics?
When Kritika was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (in Australia at the age of 24), she found that the greatest resources she had available to her were clear information from trusted sources and easy access to communities of diabetics who could share their experiences and support.
This proved invaluable to her as she came to terms with her diagnosis and began to adjust her life around her disease. She was able to connect with others going through similar challenges, share their experiences, listen to their advice, and even begin to offer some of her own.
Sometimes, it was enough to simply extend a hand and let others know they weren’t alone – This may seem like a small gesture, but it can really help.
And we feel these things would help other Indian diabetics too.
This brought us to InDiabetes, and the website you’re visiting today. Our hope is that it will continue to grow, creating a community and a place for diabetics (and their partners and family) where they can connect, share, learn and support one another.
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