John and Lauren have been a couple since meeting at a work event a few years ago. On their first date they discovered they shared more than just an interest in politics... John shares his experiences of being in a relationship with someone who has Type 1 diabetes too.
Having averted a slight hypo, I managed to arrive at a dimly lit basement bar in the middle of Soho later than I had planned but still earlier than the person I was meeting – unknown to me then, but the person who I would end up falling in love with. Albeit a little late, she arrived, we drank cocktails and then went for dinner. I was making her laugh, things were going well and as we both had worked in politics, we had plenty to talk about.
Dinner started, more drinks – and then the awkward moment for all diabetics on first dates: the blood glucose test.
I would usually skulk off to the bathroom, test blood sugar on a precariously positioned blood glucose monitor and botch a bolus dose which was, more often than not, woefully insufficient for the meal I was about to eat. This time was different though: my date pulled a polka-dot case from her handbag which looked suspiciously similar to my blood glucose monitor. “Oh, I have Type 1 diabetes,” she explained with much more confidence than I could muster. “Me, too,” I responded, and provoked a stare of disbelief, “What are the odds?” The usual questions ensued: “When were you diagnosed?”, “What insulin do you take?”, “What was your last HbA1c?”
We help each other with bits of missed knowledge
Being in a relationship with someone who has Type 1 does have its advantages but it has its challenges, too. Obviously, we both have a deep and evolving understanding of our condition and we help each other with bits of missed knowledge. There is also a very rational ear when hypers and ketones lift their ugly heads and constant diligence around hypos, especially those that strike at 3am when Lucozade is thrust towards you before you’ve even finished saying: “my blood sugar is a little lo….”.
When I moved in with my girlfriend, my bolus doses went down by at least 20 per cent, my blood sugar was more stable and I began to properly carb count, rather than pretend that I did. There is, however, a slight tendency to look at your insulin regimen as transferable; my girlfriend weighs much less than me and needs much less insulin, her look of shock when I administer my 1:5g insulin/carb ratio in the morning often convinces me to reduce the dosage, leading to the inevitable higher blood sugar.
Being in a couple who are both diabetic does mean that running out of insulin or consumables is a thing of the past, though – there’s always a ready supply. Fruit pastilles are a standing item on our online grocery list and we tend to try to eat real, simple food which is cooked from scratch so we can control things like salt and sugar.
Diabetes is a life changing condition which can sometimes feel like a very personal battle, meeting someone with diabetes means that you will always have a teammate and someone to hold your hand through its many trials and for that, I feel extremely lucky.