November 29, 2005

Diabetes: the latest wedding wrecker

By Kounteya Sinha/TNN

New Delhi: Sarita Anand (name changed), a research scientist with one of India’s leading pharma companies, hates the word “marriage”. Her wedding was called off by the bridegroom’s family not once but twice (in 2002 and 2004), hours before the wedding ceremony. Her crime: She is Type I Diabetic.
   What’s worse, in both cases Sarita had, in the matrimonial advertisements, clearly mentioned she was a diabetic. Twice bitten, she has now drowned herself in work, spending over 12 hours in the laboratory.
   This is not just a stray incident. Diabetes has started to wreck marriages. In some cases, it is also stalling them. In a shocking trend, both men and women, suffering from it are not finding a partner willing to marry them.
   Nearly 45 such cases have been reported to the Delhi Diabetic Association in the past one year. Sarita is just one of the victims whom The Times of India tracked down.
   Speaking to TOI, Sarita said: “For me, diabetes is just a condition. I live my life like any normal person. But our society thinks it is an infectious disease that could pass on to the next generation. I get nightmares when I think of what my parents went through.”
   In another case, TOI met Amit Saran (name changed), who spent lakhs on his daughter Preeti’s wedding in 2003. A year later, Preeti was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes. After months of verbal abuse, her in-laws sent her back to her father. Just a week ago, after learning that she was pregnant, Preeti’s husband decided to take her back with him.
   Sunit Batla, father of 24-year-old Vineet, faced a different kind of music. Because Vineet was diabetic, more than 11 women refused to get married to him. Sunit then went looking for a diabetic woman in Haryana for his son. Today, Vineet is happily married to Neeru. “It helps that both of us are diabetic. We understand each other’s problems.”
   Dr A K Jhingan, Delhi Diabetic Association president, says: “A large number of Type 1 Diabetics are facing matrimonial problems. This trend is becoming acute, especially because people don’t know about the disease and what it really is. We recently conducted a study to assess the magnitude of matrimonial problems faced by these people and how the prevailing social perceptions make their life miserable. Over 40 Type 1 Diabetic women, aged between 19 and 31, were interviewed. We found that only 7.5% are happily married as compared to 92.5% who faced matrimonial problems.”
   Health minister A Ramadoss told TOI: “India is home to around 40 million diabetics, the largest number in any one country. That’s why it is called the diabetic capital of the world. Nearly 12.5% of India’s urban population is diabetic while the number is over 4% in rural India.”


Type 1 Diabetes is the second most common chronic disease in children after asthma. Those who suffer from it experience frequent urination, unusual thirst, especially for sweet drinks, extreme hunger, sudden, sometimes dramatic, weight loss, weakness, fatigue, blurred vision, irritability, nausea and vomiting.
   It is an auto-immune disease in which the immune system attacks the beta cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Thus, the pancreas does not make insulin, a hormone which helps turn blood sugar (glucose) into energy. The cells become starved of energy and there is an excess of glucose in the blood. People with Type 1 Diabetes must have daily injections of insulin to survive.

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