NINJABETIC – Dating with diabetes
After a good few months of being single last year I decided to throw myself back into the dating game, but this time I seemed to be very aware of the fact that I have a long-term health condition and that I would be letting someone else in on that.
While searching for Mr Right, I was mindful that I would more than likely need to provide some essential diabetes education to my new beau, reassurance that I can handle most things that come my way, and that I would need to prick my fingers and inject insulin while maintaining a graceful and composed demeanor as I awkwardly drew blood from my finger tips and jabbed a needle into my stomach, legs and muffin tops.
If I didn’t think you could handle it then I wouldn’t have chosen you.
I thought about how I had introduced diabetes into past relationships and my reflections taught me that I wasn’t as successful in the smooth presentation of this information as I would have liked. In fact, I was more of a bumbling idiot who blurted it out at the wrong moment, holding my breath as I anxiously awaited their response.
Since meeting my new suitor, Mr W, things have gone better than I could have expected. I had no real plan for how to approach the subject, I just came out with it one day, surprised that he hadn’t yet noticed the rather large ‘Type 1 Diabetes’ medical alert tattoo on my wrist. His reaction was no different to anyone else who I had told in the past; he was fine about it, asked a few questions and moved on.
It wasn’t something that I wanted to mention from day one, I didn’t feel the need to, but as time went by and we were spending more time together, it just seemed right. I felt a little bit lighter for telling him, not that it was a huge secret that was weighing me down, but diabetes is very important to me and something that I don’t like to keep from people for long these days.
Edging Mr W slowly in to the world of type 1 diabetes, my alter-ego, Ninjabetic, and endless supplies of jelly babies, there are a few things that I wish people knew about dating someone with type 1. Sometimes the things I do may seem unusual to others, but are the norm for me and it would be helpful to give people a heads up at times.
One day I will eat the entire contents of your fridge.
This may seem extreme, and I may be exaggerating slightly, however, there will be times when my blood glucose will become low and the instinct to survive will kick in. What you may come across as you enter your kitchen is a crazy person acting as though she hasn’t eaten for weeks, but that’s the fight or flight response kicking in, along with an insatiable hunger which really does feel like I haven’t eaten for weeks. Please don’t judge me, but do gently remind me that my usual hypo treatment will suffice.
I am not perfect.
No one is perfect. I lead a busy life and thinking/working like a pancreas can be bloody hard at times. I will not get my blood sugar levels right 100 per cent of the time, this is OK. I have scars, cuts and bruises on my body from the various medical devices I use, this is OK. Sometimes I will want to talk about living with diabetes, sometimes I will want to shut it out, even if only for a moment, to take a much needed breather, this is OK. I don’t have all of the answers, this is OK. I am perfectly imperfect and I am perfectly happy being this way.
If you eat my jelly babies, I will hunt you down.
If I wake up in the night, you will probably wake up in the night (until you get used to my intermittent sleeping patterns).
Sleeping with a diabetic can be interesting. There may be occasions when I wake during the night to pee, drink water, check my blood glucose levels, take insulin if my blood sugars are high and, or, treat a blood sugar that is too low. If I wake up it’s more than likely you will wake up too, but don’t worry, this temporary disruption won’t last forever, you will learn to sleep through it with time. And I will use my ninja stealth and 14 years of being a nocturnal diabetic to be as quiet as possible.
I will make subtle, but important, educational comments about diabetes because it’s important to me.
A big part of my life is about helping to stamp out stigma, to provide factual information and to advocate for better awareness of my condition. This is something that is incredibly important and I would like it to be important to you as well. Although diabetes doesn’t define me, it has helped make me the person I am today and I want to share my knowledge as far as possible. I would like you to be a part of that too.
Sometimes I talk in a strange language and I forget that people don’t understand me.
You may hear me talking about bolus wizards, TBRs, IOB and ‘being high’ and I will forget that you have absolutely no idea what I am going on about. Please do nudge me when I’m in full-on diabetes jargon mode and tell me that you don’t understand. This is a second language to me, and one that I speak fluently to myself day in day out. What may seem like a foreign language to you is the norm for me, but do remind me that not everyone speaks the language of diabetes. It’s OK for you to be unsure.
I understand that this is a new world for some people and that it can be a daunting prospect at times. What you may have seen in the media about diabetes is very rarely a true representation of how we live our lives and the truth is that we manage a hell of a lot better than the media would have you believe. Remember, bad news sells. If you are unsure, worried or just curious, please come to me first, please ask and let me reassure you. If I didn’t think you could handle it then I wouldn’t have chosen you.