I often feel isolated with my Type 1 diabetes, but recently I’ve been dating someone else with Type 1. Having a partner in crime with this condition is, more often than not, an immense comfort.
Our conditions may have the same textbook definition, but they are different in countless ways. I am an avid insulin pump user, while he swears by his insulin pens. He was diagnosed very early in life and I lived the first 16 years of my life with a functioning pancreas.
I’ve found three pros and cons to dating someone else with Type 1:
Pro: We get to test our blood sugars together and keep each other accountable. While it can be nice to have friends and family around to remind you to check your blood sugar, sometimes these reminders can feel more pesky than helpful; our non-diabetic loved ones will never quite understand the pain of a finger poke quite the way we do.
Con: Head-to-head testing can lead to inappropriate competition with blood glucose levels. It’s important to make sure there’s no guilt or resentment when it comes to personal blood sugar levels. No one is perfect, and the pancreas is a mysterious thing.
Juice Box Hero
Pro: Having someone around who can recognize hypoglycemic symptoms and treat subsequent lows can be a major comfort. I tend to have my scary lows around 3 a.m. while I am dead asleep; I may not notice my symptoms until I’m drenched in sweat and quite literally crawling to my sugar stash. Having someone else with diabetes around to see the warning signs and get some fast-acting sugar in you has the potential to stop a low from going dangerously low.
Con: With a disease like diabetes, lows can sneak up on you anytime, so there is always a chance that both individuals could experience one simultaneously. An impressive piece of advice I heard on this was borrowed from a pre-flight safety lecture: make sure to put on my own oxygen mask before assisting others. Even if I want to help my partner with his low, I know that I should make sure that I’m stable first.
Birds of a Feather
Pro: What I’ve enjoyed most about getting to know this special diabetic in my life is that we speak the same language. I can ramble about frustrating insurance claims and explain the kink in my insulin pump tubing and he shares in my pain. He also understands the accomplishment of a great week of blood sugars and the relief of getting a refill of insulin at the pharmacy. I don’t have to try and come up with the right words to describe what a low blood sugar feels like because he lives it. We have deep discussions on the survival rate of a person with diabetes during a zombie apocalypse and compare the calluses on our fingertips.
Con: When you both live with diabetes, you have both heard the statistics about complications and had the serious conversations behind closed doors in doctor’s offices. A feeling of hopelessness can be magnified when you realize your partner is walking next to you on the same uncertain and unpredictable road.
I am the only one who can truly experience my diabetes, but getting to share this private part of my life with someone who knows the ups and downs of Type 1 is just a wonderful bonus to my love life.
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