How to Be a Supportive Partner: Advice from a Type 1’s Wife

8/14/17
WRITTEN BY: Katrina Pilkington
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Every relationship has its highs and lows (no pun intended!), and in order to be a positive partner of someone with diabetes, we have to remember that love means giving the benefit of the doubt and always seeing the best in our other half no matter what.

Be open and communicate

I met this handsome, bald stud in the gym. During our dating years, we opened up about a lot to one another. I shared all of my struggles with G, and G opened up to me about his own struggles—but I always saw that there was something off. Any time we would eat, he would run to the restroom or to his car “to check on something” without telling me exactly what that was. I became suspicious and finally confronted him about it. Reluctantly, G told me that he had diabetes and was leaving to check his blood sugar and take his shot.

G, now my husband, was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes when he was 23 years old, a little over 10 years before he met me. I figured since he’d had it for so long, that it was something I didn’t have to know a whole lot about. This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Don’t take it personally or overreact

In the beginning, I was a bit naïve. I didn’t understand that sometimes G would have high or low blood sugars for no apparent reason. I thought that he was in control of it all. We would get into many arguments whenever he had an extreme high or low because I felt that it was ‘his fault’ that it happened.

One of our biggest fights came early in our dating life. G used to work overtime while we shared a vehicle. I came to pick him up one day and noticed that he seemed lethargic and was slurring his speech a bit. I immediately became upset, thinking that he hadn’t eaten while being focused on work and so his blood sugar was tanking. My attitude only spurred him to become defensive and we got into a shouting match.

Remember, it’s not about you!

It only took me five years to get my crap together.

When someone has a low or high blood sugar, it can impact his or her mood. Looking back on that argument, I could’ve been the one to handle the situation differently. I could have asked G if he was hungry or needed something to eat. Even if a high or low happens because of a missed meal or over- or under-correction, I can be encouraging and offer support.

Have your partner’s back

I now carry quick sugars and snacks with me wherever we go. If I even sense that his sugar is erring on the side of low, I offer a snack to him in a kind way so he knows I’m just looking out for him.

I realized that I couldn’t depend on Google to solve all of my problems or to teach me anything about what it was like to have Type 1. I had to learn about my husband’s Type 1 to be a better partner. I decided to take my experience as a fitness trainer and instructor to the next level and become a certified AADE Diabetes Paraprofessional through a continued education course. There, I learned how his body operated and that sometimes his highs or lows were to no fault of his own. I made friends who were Type 1, and they gave me insight I didn’t have before.

Life as a Type 1 Wife Today

Looking back, I don’t regret anything that my husband and I have been through together in relation to Type 1 diabetes. Anything we’ve been through has made us into the people we are today. Now, my goal is to empower other partners who love someone with diabetes. The biggest lessons I learned came from truly understanding how diabetes impacts my husband, and that I can only control the actions of one person. And that’s me.

 




Katrina Pilkington

Katrina is a Type 1 Wife, Girl Mom, NASM Certified Personal Trainer, AFAA + ACE Group Fitness Instructor, Beachbody LIVE Master Trainer, AADE Diabetes Paraprofessional and Fitness Coach at FittyKat.com. Her goal is to help others turn their trials into triumph to live life to the fullest. Her husband was diagnosed in 1998, and health and fitness are a priority in their lives so that they can set an example for their daughter and inspire others to do the same! Follow her on Instagram @fittykat_ or Twitter @fittykat