I’ve written a handful of posts about things you should never say to someone with Type-1 Diabetes… And without getting into any of them, let’s agree that there is a shit ton of different things that, unless you have or know someone who has Diabetes (and even if you do) you should never say/ask them. It’s not as bad as being asked about one’s faith, orientation or personal beliefs, but asking about one’s medical status and/or requirements is right up there. I’ll step off my soapbox now and get to the actual point of today’s post.
Although there are plenty of things you shouldn’t assume or say to someone with Diabetes, living with one can be all the more difficult. More often than not, people don’t know what they’re get into when they become involved and begin to live with someone who has Type-1. Because of this, I consider my wife to be one of the strongest people I’ve ever met because she puts up with more of my shit than a wheelbarrow could hold. But previous relationships haven’t fared quite as well. They’ve ALL ended up on the losing end, mostly because despite claiming they understood certain aspect of Diabetes, they really didn’t. And now, let’s get into a list of things you can expect while living with someone who has Diabetes…
- We’re moody as shit: People in general don’t tend to realize that fluctuating blood sugars affects just about every system in the human body. Every. Fucking. System. As a result, people with Type-1, even when properly controlled can experience mood swings and crankiness. This happens even when it seems as though it shouldn’t and although most of us do our best to control it, it’s important to remember that it isn’t personal. It’s also not an excuse, and someone who regularly gets pissed for no good reason should look within and consider some better control methods.
- There’s medical stuff all over the place: I have at least three glucometres. I have boxes of sensors, insulin reservoirs, vials and various Diabetic equipment. It can get tedious and take up space. If we could live without it all, we would but the reality is that every piece of medical equipment in our environment is necessary for good control and our overall health.
- We get sick with EVERYTHING that floats by: “Man-flu” notwithstanding, our immune systems make it so that we catch every cold, flu and annoying bug that happens to float by. As a result, we tend to get sick a lot and some people tend to interpret this as being a hypochondriac or even Munchausen. The truth is, it’s more annoying to us than it is to you, despite the fact you may have to deal with us being sick, often.
- There are unfortunate “surprises”: Picture this… You meet someone you make a connection with, you go on a few dates and before you know it, you end up back at their place or they end up at yours. The evening starts heating up and clothing starts falling off… Before this slips dangerously into a steamy romance novel (I’m not sure I’d be great to write that genre), you notice tubes and devices attached to the other person’s abdomen. Turns out they have Diabetes and are using an insulin pump. maybe even a CGM, making them look like a bad, 80’s B-movie cyborg. Communication and forthcoming is important. It’s totally one’s right to choose not to share that information but for the Diabetic in the equation, it’s important to recognize that the topic will come up eventually, so you may as well be open about it.
- Plans will get cancelled: The unfortunate reality is that if one is suffering from an extreme high or low (blood sugars), they may not necessarily want to go out to whatever plans were made, be it a restaurant, a get-together or otherwise. It may even interrupt and kill the mood if one is seeking some “quality” time. But it can make things difficult for just about any plans one may be seeking to make.
- Everything takes planning: I saved this one for last because it’s the one that grates on my soul the worst. Even the smallest of things require intricate planning. Going out on errands for an hour? Gotta test my blood, remember when I ate last and have a contingency plan in the event I suffer a low, depending on where I’m going. Karate class? That’s even worse. Even if my blood sugars are fine, I need to consider how my blood sugars will be affected depending on whether we have a more cardio-heavy workout or if it’s more technique-based. Fast-acting carbs are a must, and I have to be ready for the embarrassment of stepping out of class early, should m y blood sugars refuse to cooperate.
Having Diabetes can be tough, but refusing to own one’s truth and face what needs to be faced will make it even tougher. I know some people with Diabetes who have refused to take the appropriate steps and be open and communicative about their condition. Such is their right. But all of them I’ve encountered are in the ground, now. A pretty morbid reminder that being open and willing to talk to the people in your inner circle about your Diabetes is a key component in maintaining healthy control. And last but not least, you should NEVER compromise your health to accommodate someone who won’t understand or isn’t willing to meet you halfway. That’s why I’m so lucky. Food for thought… ☯️