Meet Ashley Hanger, Founder of Australia’s first diabetes subscription box
After seeing the challenges of type 1 diabetes in her partner, Ashley Hanger found her passion: providing support to people living with chronic illness. She founded Stripped Supply, Australia’s first diabetes subscription box, with a vision to give control back to the patient and make diabetes healthcare more accessible.
We chatted to Ashley on her experiences living with a partner who has T1D and what led her to create this service.
How did you come to know about type 1 diabetes?
I’m embarrassed to say that it wasn’t until I met my partner Tristan six years ago that I truly saw diabetes for how chronic, exhausting and overwhelming it is. Moving in together, there was nowhere to hide, and I saw the reality of ‘low’ hangovers, rollercoaster sugar levels and mental exhaustion, just to name a few.
What’s your experience been like having a partner with type 1 diabetes?
You feel helpless, absolutely helpless. They’re these superhuman beings, doing crazy calculations at every meal time, putting up with whatever their body throws at them, and you just can’t help with any of it. It would take years to learn how to carb count at a glance, let along get up to speed with the whole kit and kaboodle.
So instead I focus on emotional support in our relationship. There’s more understanding between us than ‘regular’ couples, I think. I have more empathy than I did in past relationships when Tristan has ‘bad days’, because I know that his ‘bad days’ runs rings around mine (most of the time). Sometimes it’s scary, particularly in the beginning when you’re still learning the difference between a low and a high and what to do for each, but it also makes you so grateful for every moment. Diabetes shows you how fragile health, and life, can be, and because of Type 1 Diabetes, I’m more grateful for the moments we have together – the little things in life that used to bother me don’t matter as much anymore.
What are some ways you support your partner living with a chronic disease?
Every couple is different, but what’s worked for us is having open communication about how we’re both feeling where diabetes is concerned. It’s really important for me to stay in my own lane, and not try to counter-manage Tristan’s diabetes – he’s an adult, he has his health under control! But what I can do is listen when he needs to rant, cook dinner when he needs a break and be willing to cancel plans if diabetes gets in the way. In my experience, the best way to support your partner living with a chronic illness is to listen without opinion and empathise through action.
Tell us a bit about your service and how you came up with the idea.
There’s so much Tristan needs to think about in a day – I don’t think he even knows where his life thoughts end and his diabetes thoughts begin! Inevitably, something’s going to slip through the cracks, and sometimes that ‘thing’ would be ordering his insulin pump infusion sets and reservoirs in advance of him running out. As someone who’s been getting my medication delivered to my door on subscription for years, I couldn’t believe a service didn’t exist exclusively for the thousands of people living with T1D! And that’s when Stripped Supply was born. We’re Australia’s first diabetes subscription box, and we automatically deliver NDSS supplies so you never have to order your supplies again.
What is the impact you hope your service brings to the T1D community?
I hope that Stripped Supply brings just a tiny bit of mental reprieve. The T1D community has so much on their plate – and remembering to order your medical supplies every other month is not something that needs to be there! I’m hoping Stripped Supply can minimise the mental overwhelm by taking this one small thing off a T1D’s mental to-do list.
School and your child’s type 1 diabetes: a checklist for parents
The start of a school year can be a challenging time for children and families with new routines, teachers and friendships to balance. Throw type 1 diabetes (T1D) into the mix and it can get a little hectic! Whether your child is starting kindy or they’re further along their infant or primary school journey, being […]
Preschool and your child’s type 1 diabetes: what you need to know
Preschools and early learning centres are wonderful places that help your child meet developmental milestones, build valuable social skills and prepare for ‘big’ school. But we know that for many parents, sending a child who lives with type 1 diabetes (T1D) to preschool can be stressful. With the right support of educators and preschool staff, […]
When your teen rebels against their type 1 diabetes care
For parents of adolescents, any kind of rebellion causes angst. For teens who live with type 1 diabetes (T1D), these years of beginning to feel the power of freedom can have an entirely different taste than they do for teens without diabetes. Read on to learn more about adolescents rebelling against their diabetes care, including […]