It’s MY disease but… – by Helen May
When I was diagnosed with diabetes, I lived alone. I had some very close friends who helped me understand how I needed to treat myself but most of the time, I just had to get on and do everything I needed. To be honest, I’m a pretty independent person: it’s good to have a friend to talk to but ultimately, I’ll do it myself. And that’s not just managing diabetes, it’s decorating my house, it’s getting my car fixed, … I’m not the best at asking for help.
That said I prefer not to be single. So throughout my life with diabetes I’ve had a few dates and a few short term boyfriends. Each time I meet a new guy, I’ve asked myself the best way to tell him about diabetes. I don’t want to lecture him, I don’t want to scare him and I don’t want him to take over the management, but I don’t want to hide it and I do want him to understand a little about hypos and hypers. So I like to get it out in the open as soon as possible. Just a simple, “Excuse me whilst I inject. I have diabetes.” On the surface, the few guys I’ve been out with seem fine with this (at least none have run away at the sight of the needle). However, I have a noticed a lack of desire to learn any more (whereas many of my friends still keep coming back with “another question about diabetes”).
Bearing that in mind, two years ago I was very happy when my new chap engaged in a discussion about diabetes and, after a few months, started to join me in estimated my bolus insulin when we ate together: it became our new game. Initially, our numbers varied greatly: his doses were typically lower than mine but as he said “I won’t kill you straight away!” Over time, his estimates became closer to mine and I started to question some of my estimates. It was great to have someone to share with. And two years later, it’s still great.
There are still times when I have to remind him that I have diabetes. For example, I like to go to bed with a reading I know is not changing: so I try to avoid eating for the two hours before I turn in. But my partner enjoys a late evening supper. Or when we go out for a night, I always have to remember my diabetes when I am drinking and not overdo it. But after a tough week at work, my partner enjoys letting himself go a little … and then having a late kebab on the way home.
The other side of having a partner is there is someone else to ask the whys: why did I have three hypos that week? Why don’t I always get my insulin right? I sometimes thought perhaps it was easier when I just dealt with it myself: when I didn’t have to justify my readings to anyone. That was until I was reminded “if you care for someone you don’t want them to be ill.” So if his questions make me question myself a bit more it’s a good thing (although I still sometimes get frustrated … but that might be because I’m more likely to have short fuse when I have low BG).
Oddly, now I have someone who cares for me, I think I understand how parents of children with diabetes feel. And although this is MY disease and I managed it by myself for eight years, I know I’m not alone.