Family Support is Key to Manage Diabetes


The Diabetes Health team highlights the important supportive role the family plays in helping people manage their Diabetes.

Our near and dear ones also play an important role to successfully tackle the menace of Diabetes. Here the Diabetes Health team showcases two such success stories where family support proved invaluable. The first story is of Mrs Anupriya Sharma whose young daughter Prateeksha has Type 1 Diabetes. Anupriya has spoken in-depth about the emotional rollercoaster she and her husband Alankar underwent when faced with her daughter's diagnosis. But their family rallying around them helped Anupriya and Alankar to successfully manage Prateeksha's Diabetes. The second story is of Mr Shailendra Bartakke whose wife Mrs Dheeraja Bartakke has Type 2 Diabetes. They have successfully tackled Diabetes as a team and lead a happy life with their two young children.

Anupriya Sharma

Profession: Fashion designer

Age: 37 years

My 10-year-old daughter Prateeksha has Type 1 Diabetes. My husband Alankar and I first suspected something was wrong when 7-year-old Prateeksha started eating three large meals every day but kept insisting she was hungry. She then started to lose weight and would be constantly thirsty. She started becoming tired and lethargic. Worried, we took her to a family physician who first suspected Diabetes. The blood work showed my daughter's fasting sugar to be 220 mg/dL and her post-meal sugar to be 370 mg/dL. The family physician referred us to an endocrinologist who told us my daughter has Type 1 Diabetes.

Both my husband and I have a family history of Diabetes. But neither of us had it. Guilt, panic, confusion and fear – these were the strongest emotions I felt as the parent of a five year old newly diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes. Both my husband and I wondered if our family history was responsible for our daughter having Diabetes.

Prateeksha's pediatric endocrinologist was God-sent. The endocrinologist wasn't just friendly but also very helpful and knowledgeable. It was an extremely tough time for us, but she made it as good as it possibly could be. She literally held our hand while we learnt about insulin, glucose meters, shots, lancets and counting carbs. She helped us create a detailed step by step instruction sheet for checking Prateeksha's blood sugar, counting the carbs she ate and calculating the amount of insulin to be given to her.

Both our families stepped in to help care for Prateeksha. Alankar's mother would measure and count the carbs for each of Prateeksha's meals. Alankar's father would ensure that snacks, juice boxes and insulin were stocked up. My parents who often cared for Prateeksha ensured that their house was also stocked with essentials. My mother and mother-in-law made sure that there were plenty of home-made healthy snacks available for Prateeksha to avoid low blood sugar episodes. Her diagnosis hadshaken everyone but in a nurturing, loving environment we all looked out for each other. Their tremendous support helped Alankar and me cope with the diagnosis.

Once we were all proficient with managing her blood sugar levels, Prateeksha started using an insulin pump. That made life much easier for her as it allows her to have more flexibility with eating. Today, Prateeksha is a healthy 10-year-old girl who loves swimming and karate. Prateeksha is now a well-adjusted, happy girl who does not let Diabetes stop her from fun activities. I thank God every day for being blessed with a supportive family.

Shailendra Bartakke

Profession: Investment Banker

Age: 45 years

My wife Dheeraja has Type 2 Diabetes. She was diagnosed at the age of 24 years old. Before our marriage was arranged, she told me about her diagnosis. She explained that she took a medicine called metformin but did not need insulin. Her honesty impressed me and her having Diabetes did not hamper my decision to marry her. She encouraged me to read about Diabetes and its related complications. After reading about Diabetes, I realised that it could be managed well with lifestyle changes. She insisted that we undergo pre-marriage counselling. We also met her diabetologist and dietician so that I would understand how Diabetes would affect our lives. I am happy to say that marrying my wife was the best decision I ever took. We have been married for 15 years and are blessed with two children.

Dheeraja's dietician and diabetologist have been invaluable companions in our life. The dietician chalks out a healthy and interesting diet plan, taking her likes and dislikes into consideration. Interestingly I eat the same diet and all those foods which I never thought would interest me, are now my best friends.

I am now a disciplined individual. Our day starts with a cup of tea and biscuits/toasted brown bread slices at 6.30 am, followed by some almonds at the gym. Dheeraja's first medication is at 8:00 am, lined up with a breakfast that comprises sprouts, fruits, whole wheat flakes with the treat of egg whites on Sundays. Both my wife and I eat a snack at 11:30 am and have lunch around 1:30 pm which includes two chapattis, two vegetable curries, lentils and salads. We have tea around 4:30 pm is the time for my evening tea. Between 7:30 to 8:30 pm we eat dinner that again comprises two chapattis, two vegetable curries and lots of salads. We go for a 30-minute walk around 9:00 pm and then my wife drinks a glass of milk by 10.00 pm. We have found that an early dinner has helped Dheeraja maintain her fasting blood sugar levels below 120 mg/dL most of the time. Her post meal blood sugar values do not go above 150-160 mg/dL. In fact, her dietician has also enlightened us with the concept of 'portion control' and the importance of maintaining a food and fitness diary. It has given both of us the understanding of how to correct our food regime.

Dheeraja and I motivate each other towards healthy living. I have asthma. But for the past 15 years, it is under control. This has been an eye-opener to all my family members. My parents and children also want to live healthily and enjoy the food, which was earlier exclusively cooked for my wife. Since my wife's blood sugar levels are under control, she feels happier now. We have a nice exercise schedule where besides going to the gym for 60 minutes a day, we walk a lot. Both of us have maintained our body weight and feel more energetic and enthusiastic about things.

As seen in both these stories, the family was the basis of the support system which helped Dheeraja and Prateeksha manage their respective conditions. We encourage our readers to discuss facts about Diabetes with their family. Explain what hypoglycaemia is and how to spot it early. This could be a lifesaver. Discuss your diet and exercise routine openly. Answer their questions and involve them to help you manage your Diabetes. In this case, too many cooks do not spoil the broth.

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