Q&A: A Wife’s Perspective on Diabetes


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Today we continue in our Q&A series with a conversation with a personal friend of mine named Amanda whose husband has type 1. She shares her insights on his diagnosis, complications, and faith. Let’s take a look: 

Q: Let’s start off by you describing your connection with diabetes. You are the first person I’ve interviewed who doesn’t have diabetes themselves, but is married to someone with diabetes. So before you married someone with type 1, did you have any family or friends you knew with diabetes, or was your husband your first experience with it?

A: My husband’s diagnosis was my first real experience being close to someone with T1D. The very little I knew about it actually came from a brief hospital stay in college where I was so ill and weak that I was taken to the ER. My nurse in triage had a nursing student with him and I heard him ask the student if she noticed that my blood smelled like acetone, which scared me! I was in the ICU for two days due to being on insulin, was told I had type 1 diabetes, and started receiving educational materials from hospital staff. Shockingly, on the third day there, I was told it was a misdiagnosis and it was probably caused by severe dehydration. It was such a strange situation that I haven’t even thought about in years.

Q: What were your first thoughts about dating and marrying someone with a chronic illness like diabetes?

A: My husband wasn’t diagnosed until he was 25 and we had been married for 2 years already, so we were both shocked together and had to learn together. We are coming up on 8 years since he was diagnosed now.

Q: As someone who has diabetes (and without anyone else in my family with it), all I know is my firsthand experience of what it’s like to deal with my own illness. But what is it like to be married to someone with diabetes?

A: It took a while for the seriousness to sink in for a few reasons. First, he was diagnosed by complete accident—or more likely divine intervention. There was no precipitating incident where his health seemed to be in danger. He simply went in for his annual health screening for work in order to get the small insurance incentive they provide for doing so. Part of the screening is a finger prick, and the medical assistant tried a few different times to make sure it was accurate because his blood sugar was higher than the meter would read. Secondly, I had my own fluke of a personal experience where I was misdiagnosed, so we thought maybe it wasn’t real! 

Once the diagnosis was confirmed, I was overwhelmed. I attended education classes at a local hospital with him and I thought there was no way we’d be able to learn everything we needed to know to keep him healthy and safe. It was a stressful adjustment in life and in our marriage. I had to learn to be encouraging without micromanaging, and he had to learn that part of taking care of your family is taking care of your own health. 

Q: In terms of starting a family, were there any concerns of diabetes in that regard?

A: Our oldest was born almost exactly one year after his diagnosis, and the anxiety about him possibly having diabetes or an autoimmune disorder didn’t hit me hard until after he was born. If you choose to donate cord blood after birth like I did, you get a follow up phone call with 8 million questions about your family health history so they can determine risks associated with that blood. Jeremy’s mom passed away when he was in elementary school from cancer, his sister was very sick at the time (and eventually passed away a few years later), and there are other health issues in his family history. Considering all those risk factors in one sitting overwhelmed me with fear for my baby boy, and having fear for your child’s well-being is just a different level of fear than you have in any other relationship. I’m sure other parents can relate. Fortunately, both our boys have been pretty healthy, and I think we know what symptoms to look for so that we could catch it early on. 

Q: Have you walked with your husband through any challenges or complications due to diabetes?

A: Yes. Honestly, the first several years were a cakewalk compared to many people’s experiences. Jeremy’s blood sugar was always on the high side, but manageable. He didn’t experience any extreme effects until one year ago. On May 25, 2022 (our 9th wedding anniversary, which is why it’s so memorable!), he was at home from work on his final day of quarantining from COVID per school rules (he’s a teacher). It was his first time testing positive for COVID and his symptoms were quite mild. Our boys (5 and 18 months old at the time) were home with him. 

I had been at work for about an hour and a half, and I was in a meeting when Jeremy began calling me repeatedly. I stepped out to answer the phone, and he was not making any sense. I asked him where the kids were and all he could say was, “I don’t know what’s happening.” I raced home in the pouring rain while my coworkers called 911 and sent an ambulance to the house. He was extremely confused and disoriented for our first 3 hours in the hospital and our conversations were much like speaking to a loved one with Alzheimer’s. He kept asking the same questions over and over again, and he didn’t understand where we were or why. Once he stabilized, he had no memory of the previous several hours. 

All the tests run at the hospital over the next few days were clear, and his blood sugar seemed well-controlled, so we didn’t know what happened. He got a fancy new insulin pump and was advised not to drive until we had more tests done in a couple of weeks. He seemed well until 10 days later when he had a grand mal seizure in front of me, our neighbors, and our terrified toddler. It was the most fear and helplessness I have ever felt, and the memory of it is burned in my brain. The EMTs found his blood sugar to be dangerously low… like below 20 low. Our world was turned upside down with more medical appointments and six months of him being unable to drive a car (which is quite a challenge when we have to drop off kids at two different locations in the morning and we work at schools on opposite ends of Kansas City, 30 miles apart). 

Ultimately, the best the doctors could determine was that COVID completely changed Jeremy’s blood sugar patterns to include sudden lows, and because they weren’t discovered immediately, he had seizures. 

Q: What was that time like for you as a spouse and mom caring for young kids?

A: Oof. Very difficult. Jeremy is a true partner when it comes to caring for our kids, so the absence of his ability to share in caring for them the way he had previously had a dramatic impact on our day-to-day lives. He could not be alone with them in case he had a seizure again, and we couldn’t both drive to divide-and-conquer errands or activities. I also had great anxiety about our kids witnessing another scary event. 

As a wife, it was difficult to watch him go through the emotions that come with losing independence and freedom. There is anger and resentment to work through with that. And, while dealing with my own overwhelm and anxiety, I’m certain that I often wasn’t as present and comforting as he needed me to be during that time. 

Q: How has your faith had an impact on your experience being married to someone with type 1?

A: Believing that God knows all things—including that this diagnosis and these difficult days would come—and that he works all situations for our good allows me to cling to His promises rather than to a false sense of control. These situations may have been surprising to us, but they were not surprising to the God who goes before us! A mantra I constantly refer to and have meditated on often ever since I read it in one of Lysa Terkeurst’s books is:

God is good.
God is good to me.
God is good at being good.

It is true and it really helps! 

Q: Do you have a specific verse you cling to when your husband is facing hard days, or a certain bible story that inspires you in challenging times?

A: There are many, but I have Psalm 46 tattooed on my body because it grounds me. Verses 1-3:

God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

Psalm 46:1-3

Q: What would you say to the spouse of someone with diabetes that might encourage them today? 

A: God loves your spouse more than you do. It’s great to care for your spouse physically, emotionally, and spiritually, but their well-being in these areas is not solely dependent on you. Rest in the Lord, my friends! 


Amanda Todd

Amanda lives in Lenexa, KS with her husband Jeremy and two boys. She works full time as a school psychologist at a public high school. In her free time, Amanda enjoys cheering on the Chiefs and the Jayhawks, exploring the best food and jazz that Kansas City has to offer, and serving on the worship team at church.


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Kaycee - Devotions on Diabetes


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