Happy Valentine’s Day, All!
Today is a special day where the sweet sound of love is in the air, and couples across the globe are marking the occasion. The Diabetes Community is, too!
As we all know, there’s nothing like having the support of a partner in dealing with diabetes every day. It’s not all always pretty, but these people are in for the long haul and we couldn’t do what we do without them. Of course, that’s not a surprise to most in the Diabetes Community… because we say it so often!
There are a few resources out there directed at our loved ones, like WebMD’s tip sheet on 6 ways to support a spouse with diabetes, and the Behavioral Diabetes Institute’s Just for Partners program. But mostly our D-spouses and partners are going it on their own, and we don’t often get to hear directly from them on the challenges they face.
That’s why we created our Diabetes Partner Follies series, to allow partners to share their stories.
Today, we’re delighted to introduce you to a trio of husbands who are part of a new Partner’s Perspective Program within Diabetes Sisters, which is now in its second year and has become an established track at each of this organization’s conferences.
But first, we’d like to share this special video about D-Spouse Love that some friends in the Diabetes Community members helped us put together:
We can’t even express how much these special “Type Awesomes” mean in our lives!
One way that D-Spouses are being recognized is through a new partner-focused program of the DiabetesSisters organization. The DiabetesSisters’ 2013 Weekend for Women event takes place on May 3-5 in Raleigh, NC, and October 4-6 in San Francisco, CA. We told you about the inaugural year in 2012, but now Chris Barnes (husband of Diabetes Sisters founder Brandy Barnes) has been working hard to expand the program.
Want to know more about exactly who these partners are and what their program’s all about? Look no further! Today we bring you some perspective directly from Chris and two other D-husbands who are involved:
Chris Barnes, husband of DiabetesSister’s Founder Brandy, diagnosed in 1990:
My story with Brandy as it relates to diabetes started in 1996 when we met at the University of North Carolina. At the time, I knew nothing at all about diabetes. However that did not deter me from wanting to get to know Brandy better and we have not been apart since that day. We will be celebrating 11 years of marriage in September 2013.
Brandy has inspired me by witnessing her daily management of diabetes and not allowing it to keep her from accomplishing her goals. I was in full support of her starting DiabetesSisters back in 2008 as she felt that just being a pharmaceutical sales representative who promoted diabetes medication was not enough of a contribution to giving back. In addition to being faced with many obstacles, including social isolation, she was amazed how little information about or services for women with diabetes were available and how the issue seemed invisible within the women’s health community. Her high-risk pregnancy further illuminated the limited number of resources available to women with diabetes during important life stages, such as puberty, pregnancy, and menopause. All of her experiences culminated in the formation of DiabetesSisters, 501(c)3 nonprofit organization whose mission is to improve the health and quality of life of women with diabetes, and to advocate on their behalf.
The Partner’s Perspective Program was started in 2012 and was attended by 30 husbands, whose wives with diabetes were attending the Weekend for Women Conference here in Raleigh, NC. It was started as a suggestion by one of the attendees as the 2011 conference came to a close. The program is open to partners, spouses, and significant others of women attending the conference. The goal of the program is to better equip partners of women with diabetes to fully engage in their partner’s disease management.
As partners of women with diabetes, we really do want to better understand their disease and how to best support them so that they can live full lives with diabetes for many years to come. The success of the program in its first year illustrated that this valuable program is filling a large void that has been overlooked for many years. We plan to duplicate the program at the 2013 Weekend for Women conference in San Francisco in October 2013. We’re very excited about this expansion, but how much it will help more men be able to understand and help their wives with diabetes!
David “Dink” Warren, married to Keena Bartley, diagnosed more than three decades ago:
Diagnosed with type 1 as an infant, Keena had been diabetic almost 35 years when our relationship began and my first exposure to diabetes came with a low blood-sugar that she experienced on our first date. Even from that very first episode, we’ve worked together on the daily management of Keena’s diabetes.
I’ve seen her compete competitively in sports, excel in her professional career, travel, and party like a rock star! She just does it differently, and I wasn’t always aware of the special steps she takes to accomplish her short-term and long-term goals. I’m now far more keenly aware and am amazed at the “double-life” she lives.
As far as Keena’s involvement in DiabetesSisters, I’ve always supported that and I was eager to attend the first Partner’s Perspective session last year hosted in conjunction with the DiabetesSisters Weekend for Women Conference. In the group, I found other DS’s companions sharing the same funny, and sometimes scary, rituals, challenges, and triumphs that I’ve experienced every day with my beautiful bride.
Will Tucker, married for 22 years to Donna, diagnosed in August 2002:
My story about diabetes certainly isn’t a love story suited for Valentines Day, especially after more than 25 years of being set in my ways with my spouse. This was what actually what made her diagnosis that much more difficult. We were used to a lifestyle and eating habits that had to change as a result of her diagnosis, neither of which I was very fond of. Sugar and sweets taste great until you’re faced with diabetes and you realize it’s a life or death choice. The good thing was my wife lost about 40 pounds, very sexy… the bad news was we were both miserable getting there. I didn’t have it, yet I was being forced to eat healthy too. I was raised by a long line of dessert-loving families that believed you should eat your dessert first to ensure you had enough room for it, so not being able to share or enjoy that very crucial part of my meal was devastating and I became almost resentful.
Getting involved with the Diabetes Sisters Partners Perspective allowed me to become more knowledgeable about her disease and showed me my partner’s perspective that I hadn’t yet allowed myself to contemplate. They also taught me life-saving tips that I may need to use in the future to truly continue to enjoy a long life with my spouse. Ultimately, we are both healthier and happier and I attribute much of this to the benefits we’ve both received via this fine charity organization.
Thanks for sharing those insights, gentlemen!
OK, now it’s your turn…
PWDs: have anything you’d want to tell your spouse, partner or significant other this Valentine’s Day? And to those Type Awesomes reading this post, anything you’d want to share for your loved one? Leave a comment and let us know!
Oh, and don’t forget today to Spare a Rose, Save a Child! Thanks!