Hi everybody, my name is Richard and I am living with my beautiful wife for almost one and a half years. My wife also happens to have T1D. In those one and a half years I learned a lot about a disease I’ve never had on my radar before. When I look back, it is just crazy that this disease is so misunderstood, even though it massively effects a T1’s life. There are so many people who think there is only one type of diabetes and that the cause of this illness is eating too many sweets. I was one of those ignorant people, but when I met my wife all that changed and I began to understand and learn everything that encompasses this disease.
I remember the first time she was telling me about her diabetes. She showed me this strange little machine, her pump. To be honest, in my ignorant way, I thought she was exaggerating, but of course I didn’t say anything to her. If I thought about life-threatening diseases the first things that always popped up in my mind were cancer or Multiple Sclerosis (MS), but I’ve never thought about T1D. I think you really start understanding this disease when you start living with someone with diabetes. You realize how much this disease rules a persons daily life. From checking blood sugars every few hours, counting carbs, waking up in the middle of the night because of unruly blood sugars, and of course injecting the precise dose of insulin, there is never a break. And all while using a medication that saves their life, but can also kill them. This blows my mind when I think about it. This diseases effects a person physically and mentally. But it is also effects me, and all others who are close to a T1. Don’t get me wrong, this effects me way less in comparison to what my wife goes through. So how is it to live with a T1D?
When I think about it, sometimes it feels like I am living with two different wives combined in one person. There is this loving, carrying and supporting wife and then the “T1D monster” that comes out from time to time and takes over my wife’s emotions. This “T1D monster” is completely different than my wife. It gets angry quite quickly, impatient, and starts criticizing things that my wife would never do. This “monster” gets triggered by dramatically changing blood sugars and changes the emotions of my wife.
I had really big issues in order to distinguish and identify which one I am talking to in the beginning, my wife or the “T1D monster”. And in the beginning I made many mistakes; I accused my wife of how she acted in certain situations, even though there was nothing she could do about it because she wasn’t herself. I think that’s one of the biggest and most important challenges for a partner living with a T1D. It’s realizing when your loving partner gets overwhelmed from his or her “T1D monster” and choosing to react in a right way. Instead of being mad at your partner, you have to be supportive and need to understand his or her situation. I know all too well how hard it is at times, but if I am angry, I try to be angry at the “monster”, not my wife. If I feel like she isn’t herself I try to be patient and understanding, try to wisely use my words and after a while my lovely wife is back. What I also find really helpful, even though diabetes is something really personal for every T1D, is that my wife and I are talking openly about her diabetes. That gives me the opportunity to react in the right way when I know that her blood sugar isn’t cooperative. I feel like it makes things easier and smoother for both of us. Communication is key.
I love my wife with all my heart and I am thankful that she lets me into her diabetes world. That she has the trust in me to share her really personal T1 experiences, good or bad. And I hope that I can be a supportive husband to her, so we can both manage “the monster” that this disease can produce.
How do you guys manage your partner’s “T1D monster”?