Jessica and Alex met volunteering on a camp for children with Type 1. Jessica talks to us about diabetes-inspired wedding speeches, travelling the world and returning to the camp that brought them together.
Alex and I met when I was 19 and he was 20. I'd been diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes aged 10 and had struggled through my teenage years. Alex has been diagnosed only a year earlier – a late starter!
We met when we were both volunteering on a camp for children with Type 1 in Leicestershire called Camp Charnwood. One of the best things about camp is that you just know everyone is in the same boat. We've all had the frustrations, and the highs and lows (excuse the pun). We know how difficult life with Type 1 can be, but we also know that it has the potential to influence our lives for the better.
We got chatting over the week, and went on our first date a couple of nights after camp finished. Now how is this for a challenge – we went for pizza. I give you diabetes, then I raise you – pizza! Go carb count that one…
We were both on MDI (multiple daily injections) at that time, and I can remember us discussing how much insulin to take. We didn't actually talk about diabetes too much, we talked about university, our plans for the future and just about each other’s lives. It sounds like a ridiculous cliché, but at some point in that evening I just knew that I wanted to be with this man forever.
Not long after I moved from Leicestershire, where we both lived, to London. We decided to just see how things worked out. We saw each other pretty much weekly – either him travelling to London or me travelling back home.
Three years later, in Morocco, Alex proposed. We married on 1 August 2015, and of course diabetes played a big part. Alex’s best man was his brother Ben, who also has Type 1 diabetes. I have actually known him longer than Alex, because we both went on camp as children. In his speech he spoke about our ‘diabanter’ and how we have our own language that we use when we hang out and talk about diabetes. People without diabetes don't understand us and are often left looking puzzled – which just makes it funnier for us!
There was a whole table of people with Type 1 there – and surprise surprise, they were the loudest! We had all sorts of treats at the venue – including a hypo treatment station. My wedding dress even had a little pump pouch sewn into it so I could wear my pump without worrying.
Alex and Jessica on their wedding day
Any good relationship comes down to supporting each other. But in our case, this goes so much further as I know he just gets it because he lives with Type 1 too. As well as, 'could you pass the salt please?', we also ask, 'How many carbs do you think?!. I wouldn't want it any other way. But we also try to not let diabetes dominate every conversation.
Last year, we decided that we wanted to go on a big travelling trip. Since we met we've always been passionate about travelling and we try to see new countries as often as possible. We're away for four months at the minute (New Zealand, Fiji, LA, Costa Rica, Panama, Colombia, Ecuador, Bolivia, Peru, Chile and Argentina).
Jessica and Alex on Wayalailai island in Fiji, where they spent nine days island hopping
It's a long time for anyone but with diabetes factored in we've had to be super organised in order to make it work. We've come up against some challenges – before we even left our GP refused to issue enough insulin to cover our trip, so that was a battle.
I decided to start a blog about the trials and tribulations that travelling with diabetes can bring and I hope that it teaches people that you really can do whatever you want to do despite having this condition.
The camp where we first met remains a huge part of our lives and we return every year as helpers. Alex is a doctor and I'm a nurse so we come in handy sometimes!
- Jessica and Alex live in Leicester with their dog, Rusty
- Read Jessica and Alex’s blogDiabetics On Tour
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#TheOne campaign is all about sharing those moments we all go through when it comes to sex, dating and relationships with Type 1 diabetes.