When I first met Dan, diabetes was one of the first things we talked about. It could be due to the fact that I have no filter, nor do my outspoken friends. We all became immediately curious after noticing his pump, which I initially thought was an old-school pager (which in a way it is). Prior to knowing Dan, the only thing I really knew about type 1 diabetes was that pop star Nick Jonas had it, which isn’t saying a lot. I normally feel at ease prodding people with my nosy questions, but I knew this was a sensitive subject and that Dan is typically quite shy. As my girlfriends and I bombarded him with invasive questions, he opened right up and shared his story. After that first conversation I had with him, I immediately picked up on one of Dan’s finest qualities, his patience.
Since Dan and I began dating, I am still learning a lot about his diabetes, but one thing I know for sure is that his patience with type 1 is heroic. For those of you who aren’t familiar with the disease, it requires a lot of upkeep. You could say it’s pretty high maintenance, just like me. From pricking his finger numerous times a day, constantly checking his monitor, stabbing his waist to hook up his pump (that essentially sustains his life), waking up multiple times at night, having to eat even when he’s stuffed, or feeling ill because he’s too high or too low…I have not once heard him complain. Dan is as patient with me as he is with his disease, and that is saying a lot.
Just like he balances his insulin levels, Dan also balances me. And since he is so modest about his diabetes, I am going to be straightforward and give you the raw version of what it’s like to live with type 1.
The reality of having type 1 diabetes is waking up in a cold sweat in the middle of the night, feeling nauseous and faint, having to check your monitor during dinners, at a bar, during a wedding, or at the movies. It’s having to politely ask for a snack after you just ate, worrying about leaving the house without your supplies, or having your adhesive fall off when you’re swimming. Type 1 Diabetes is having to carry all of your supplies with you everywhere you go, worrying about going too low or too high when enjoying a beer, plugging and unplugging when you do activities, and getting tangled when snuggling with your significant other. However, Dan doesn’t complain about any of this. He makes it look easy.
Since Dan was 13 years old, he has had diabetes. That means he has depended on pricking his fingers to test his blood sugar and manually jab a large needle into his stomach or back to serve as the catheter that connects to his insulin pump, which he has to then mathematically calculate the exact amount of insulin to inject in his body in order to keep him alive. In my opinion, Dan should be the role model for all diabetics because of his extraordinary qualities.
Although his disease doesn’t seem to faze him, it definitely tugs at the heartstrings of his family, friends, and now me. As his girlfriend who gets queasy around needles, blood, and even the smell of his insulin, I want to help him as much as I can. Whether that be throwing away his used test strips, carrying his supplies around in my purse, sprinting to get him a snack or juice, or waking him up in the night when he goes low, I want to be as supportive as I can. I want to fight for a cure.