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When I was young, telling people about my Type 1 diabetes wasn’t the easiest thing for me

When Sophie first met her boyfriend, talking about her Type 1 diabetes wasn't the easiest thing for her. Now, ten years later, she shares her tips for managing Type 1 in a relationship.

When I first met my boyfriend I'd had Type 1 for three years, and wasn’t a massive fan of it. Pair that with being a pretty shy teenager (especially around boys) and it meant that I hid it from him for as long as possible. I can’t remember exactly how, but thinking back to my ‘old tricks’ I imagine that meant not doing injections or blood sugar tests in front of him and just letting my sugars run high to make sure I wouldn’t hypo – aka being SILLY. 

I finally thought enough is enough. I was round his house for dinner, meeting his parents for the first time, just to make things more nerve-wracking. Chatting away to his Mum, she asked ‘Is there anything you can’t eat? You’re not a vegetarian?’ and like word vomit, I just blurted out ‘NO BUT I AM DIABETIC’.

“It was all just a big learning curve”

At first my boyfriend thought I was joking (fair enough – because where the heck had this come from?!), but when I explained he was pretty fascinated. I showed him all my diabetes stuff, and to be honest I think he was just a bit shocked that I’d kept it so quiet. But when I was young, telling people about my Type 1 diabetes wasn’t the easiest thing for me – and being completely clueless about relationships, it was all just a big learning curve.

Now I wouldn’t think twice about telling others about my Type 1 diabetes (which I think is something that just came with time and acceptance) and neither would my boyfriend. I actually think sometimes he knows it better than I do. He can tell when I’m hypo (usually because I’m being irrational or really ratty – my bad!), and can even sometimes tell when I’m hyper, which I still struggle with on a daily basis.

One particularly memorable time was my 25birthday. Whether you have diabetes or not, drinking a lot of alcohol is rarely a fantastic idea. However, as we all know, it happens. I won’t bore you with the details of how much prosecco I drank and how much dancing I did – but I’ll just say that the combination of both led to some lower than desired blood sugars (and sorer than expected heads the next day).

I remember waking up to an alarm at 4am. I turned to my boyfriend who grabbed my Libre and checked my blood sugar. ‘In the 7s, that’s better’ he mumbled. He asked me if I wanted anything else to eat, and explained how when I went to sleep earlier, he’d checked my blood sugars and they were in the 4s and falling, so he’d given me some carbs to eat and set an alarm to check now.

“Thinking about how well my boyfriend knows my diabetes makes me very thankful”

As well as the stand out occasions where I actually don’t know if my useless pancreas and I would have managed without him, there are the little everyday things. He lets me know 20 minutes before dinner is ready so I can test my sugars and pre-bolus. He’ll check I’m OK when I wake up a sweaty, shaky mess during a 3am hypo, and listen to me rant and moan about diabetes when that’s what I need. He’ll pack half of his bag full of insulin and hypo treatments whenever we go away. And he supports me forking out £100 a month for my glucose monitoring sensors.

Thinking about how well my boyfriend knows my diabetes, and how much he’s looked after both me and ‘it’ over the years, makes me very thankful. And that doesn’t just apply to my relationship with him. There’s also my family, my friends – everyone who’s ever sat with me recovering from a hypo, or helped me work out the carb count on the fast food we’re about to demolish.

There are probably hundreds of occasions where Type 1 has cropped up within our relationship – but I wouldn’t say any of them have been a problem, because it’s just part of who I am.

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