NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WTVF) — A Nashville couple both living with Type 1 Diabetes is sharing their daily fight with the disease on an Instagram account where they have dubbed themselves “The Diabetic Duo.”
“Connecting with other diabetics, you know, [being] constantly reminded that we’re not alone. And we’re all in this fight together. And I know that we’re all kind of working toward a goal of finding that cure, and, you know, getting rid of this thing,” explained David Robbins of the Diabetic Duo.
November is Diabetes Awareness Month and according to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF) approximately 730,000 people — or 13.6% of Tennessee’s population — have diabetes. JDRF also estimates about 47,000 people in Tennessee are newly diagnosed each year.
“[It’s a] disease that a lot of people don’t know about. They don’t see,” stated Maddie Robbins of the Diabetic Duo. “There’s really no way to reverse it right now. It’s a life change. It’s learning how to count carbs, workout, not workout too much, balance the highs and lows and everything in between.”
The Robbins’ have pricked their fingers multiple times a day since a very young age as Maddie Robbins was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes at age 9 and David at age 10.
During their first date, Maddie noticed an insulin pump peeking out of David’s pocket. Now a married couple, they take care of each other.
“Our life kind of revolves around numbers. You know, you wake up, ‘What’s your sugar at? What’s my sugar? OK, how should we plan out our meal? All right, did that work? Did that not work? Should we go for a walk? What’s your sugar looking like?’” she said.
Being able to share their daily struggle with the disease with each other has allowed them to be more open about the disease and want to help raise awareness.
“He used to check his blood sugar under the table. So people didn’t know he had diabetes, I used to just not tell anybody, because I didn’t want them to think it would hold me back from doing the same things that everyone else was doing,” explained Maddie.
The couple both have Type 1 Diabetes, which according to JDRF can strike at any age and those diagnosed will be forever dependent on insulin as their bodies just stopped producing it.
“Type 1 is more severe and less common than Type 2 Diabetes. Type 2 is not the ‘adult’ version as many children develop insulin resistance due to poor diet and lack of exercise. Type 2 is a reversible condition and Type 1 is a lifelong battle with zero breaks in management,” the JDRF Tennessee Chapter said.
Maddie and David said they both felt like balancing their sugar levels was more of a guessing game before new technology emerged.
“Fortunatly for Maddie and I, we have Dexcom, which is a continuous glucose monitor, which is attached to our body,” said David. “Technology advancements with our iPhone or any like Android you can, or even just the Dexcom monitor, you can just check it throughout the day, which has been such a helpful thing.”
“It’s kind of like a guardian angel. You know, when you’re sleeping, it can alert you, you know where you’re at,” explained Maddie of her Dexcom monitor.
The couple posts on their Diabetic Duo page about the challenges with food, travel, exercise and also paying their bills.
“Insurance makes a big difference for type one diabetes. If you are buying a vial of insulin with no insurance whatsoever, before they capped it, it could be close to $1,000 for one vial, which it’s different for everybody. But for me, it would last maybe 17-18 days,” explained Maddie. “And so $1,000 for less than a month, is just not even feasible. Fortunately, we both have insurance right now. But the cost of all of my supplies—I usually hit that deductible before April.”
The Diabetic Duo said despite their high deductibles when insurance does not cover everything they need to stay alive, they are left with no choice but to pay out of pocket.
“It’s tough. It’s a big financial burden. But the flip side is not being here. And so we don’t even–we can’t even blink an eye at it, because we know we need it,” Maddie explained.
“Until there’s a cure. We’re pretty much stuck with it. I mean, I don’t see the cost of any of the supplies going down, I think. In fact, it’ll probably keep going up, as everything else continues to inflate. And so it’s just budget, we already have to factor into everything else,” stated Maddie.
The couple said they have hope for a cure and encourage others to help by learning about how diabetes affects people, being empathetic and donating to the research.
“We want Type 1 diabetes to become Type None, and, you know, be able to go back to just living a life without it,” David said.
To donate to JDRF Tennessee Chapter, visit its website.