I know a lot of women with Type 1 diabetes. Some are friends, colleagues, peers and some are women, young and old, whose paths have crossed with mine at different times for different reasons. And even though each and every one of us are different in the way we view, experience and react to our Type 1 diabetes, I typically find that, when we first discover we are both meandering the snaking female Type 1 diabetes footpath, there is a collective knowing, a camaraderie that instantly bonds our lives in an inquisitive way. Often, we will immediately begin to chat like old friends and many times, we will openly begin to share intimate details with each other.
We talk about the effect of our diabetes on our careers, our health, our loved ones, spouses, families and friends. For me, it’s emotionally comforting to connect with someone who really and truly gets what I’m going through. Trust me when I say that the emotional side of diabetes is a huge piece of the puzzle and if it is not taken into consideration, it can unravel all well laid diabetes plans. So if you love a woman with Type 1diabetes, maybe this blog will give you a little something to consider. Or maybe you already know everything. That being said….
Women With Type 1 Diabetes and Sexual Intimacy
Ever try to enjoy sex with Type 1 diabetes while worrying about your blood sugar dropping or soaring? How about having your medical devices front and center on your body? And because of the cost, and inconvenience I might add, of a device being knocked off, I always have to consider where my devices are on my body to help avoid that scenario. And even after marriage to a man who says he doesn’t care about my devices, the thought that I will look “medicinal” to him creates vulnerability in me that I don’t like. And heaven forbid that he accidentally knocks one of them off creating a frustrating outburst of, OMG, you knocked it off! YOU KNOCKED IT OFF! That’s my truth. Oh and nothing yells sexual hotness like a random insulin pump alarm at just the right moment. And so on top of all the other considerations that all women make about intimacy, we have to add another very consuming and demanding layer to our sex lives. So help us out here as we once again ask for your understanding.
Oh and let’s not forget the wonderful side effects of insulin. Hey ladies, does the following sound familiar?
Why am I sweating? I must be low!
Wait, wait, I need juice. GET. ME. JUICE.
What was that? Did you hear an alarm? Wait! There it is again!
Give me a break, I just had a low.
Oh, I’m so high right now that I can’t focus. Maybe later.
Hurry up, I’m dropping.
As soon as my blood sugar comes down a bit, we…..
As soon as my blood sugar comes up a bit, we….
I can hear it now, some of you are screaming that your partners embrace and accept you and your diabetes, and that those devices and insulin are saving your life, for cryin’ out loud! You’re so grateful for your devices, etc. etc. Yes, me too. Me. Too. I’ve said all those things as well and I mean them whole-heartedly. But sometimes, all that crap just really pisses me off and that’s the long and short of it. And let me tell you, I totally empathize with my single Type 1 sisters who are dating and don’t have the comfort of a familiar and supporting partner who gets it. Now that’s a whole other level of damn it. So remember that sometimes, we feel grateful AND vulnerable about all our stuff.
Type 1 Diabetes and Divorce
I mentioned in a previous blog that I have received calls from moms of little girls with Type 1 and they all, in some form or another, ask me the same question.
Peg, were you married before or after you were diagnosed with Type 1?
This, to me, is just a round about way of saying, will anyone want my daughter? Will anyone be willing to take the reins and take this on? I’ve actually had four Type 1 girlfriends whose fiancés’ families tried to talk them out of marrying their beloved simply because of her diabetes. Of course, if the prospective spouse can’t handle it, then they aren’t the right one anyway, right? Yes, I believe in the old saying that you should surround yourself with those who want to see you succeed. But that does little to soothe my friends’ broken hearts. Also, I’ve had several divorced Type 1 lady friends tell me, “He just couldn’t handle my Type 1.”
Type 1 Diabetes Victories
Ok, time for something positive. Yes, there are the highs (and I don’t mean blood sugar) of the victories we experience with Type 1. Floating between the lines of our high and low ranges on our continuous glucose monitor is always a good one for me, and an elusive and decent A1C is huge too. And oh, when I wake up in a good blood sugar range which means that maybe, just maybe, I won’t have to chase those blood sugars as much that day… maybe, fingers crossed, perhaps, one can always hope, please just one stable day is all I ask for. Also, a good report from my eye doctor makes me pump the air. We feel proud and accomplished because we know how hard it really is. We know what it takes to deal with a medical condition that keeps us perpetually on guard.
Yup. We are badass jugglers indeed. We earn those victories, no matter how large or small. We rightfully claim what is ours, for ourselves, for our families and friends. How about finding a sale on glucose tablets? Woo hoo! Celebrate those times with us, ok? No matter how little they may seem to you, they’re a big deal to us. Okay, now back to complaining.
Type 1 Diabetes Can Be Lonely
I know that loneliness and diabetes affect both women and men, but hold your comments because I’m talking about women right now, ok? Sometimes in the middle of the night, we find ourselves alone, wide awake and trolling the house exhausted and frustrated while we wait for some random, erratic blood sugar trend to stabilize. While diabetes rages on, we hear the mechanical noise of the refrigerator and maybe we answer a few emails. We can’t fall back to sleep on such a blood sugar level, we tell ourselves. We lie down in the guest room or on the couch so that we don’t disturb our spouse again. Thoughts of “will I wake up?” begin. Who is going to take care of my family if I don’t wake up? Have I met my deductible yet? Damn this disease is costing us so much money just to stay healthy (one of my favorites).
These are some of the lone ramblings of women, and ok, men too, just doing their best, hoping that they will be around long into their golden years, with the goal of staying as healthy as they can, for as long as they can. So if you hear us in the middle of the night, every once in a while, come out, sit down next to us and just hold our hand. No need to say a thing.
Type 1 Women Are Different From Each Other
I know that not every woman feels the same as I do about their diabetes and I’m not making blanket statements here about how we all collectively feel. Hell, I don’t even agree with these statements for myself half the time, as sometimes, I don’t feel the same way about my own diabetes. Here’s an interesting tidbit. My female cousin, whose mom was married to my dad’s brother, was diagnosed with Type 1 about a year before me and interestingly, we are the only women in our immediate or extended family who share the Type 1 journey. Her quiet resolve and attitude about her Type 1 is admirable, practical and quite different from my own frenetic, vocal path.
An interesting side note is that both of our moms were pregnant with us at the same time and they lived just across the street from each other in a small town in the midwest. And then my cousin and I, both end up being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes as young adults within about a year of each other. Interesting dynamic, don’t you think? But getting back to my original point, even though my cousin and I share the same blood, are close in age and the only females in our extended family dealing with this, she and I are different in our approach. One is not better than the other, just different. So please don’t compare us or lump us all together and remember that what we did last week, may not work for us this week. Confusing and frustrating to say the least. Partner with us, trust us, support us.
A Positive Ending…
Well, it’s New Year’s and I made it through another year with Type 1 diabetes. I did everything I could to stay healthy and live a good life. I am grateful for pretty much everything and I look forward to another good year on this planet. On I go.
Oh and, today is a celebration folks! After 11 months of paying through the nose for health insurance, I have finally met my astronomical double 4-figure medical deductible. Okay, everybody in the car, we’re going to the pharmacy for a par-teh! Yes, it’s the little things. Clap…….clap………clap.
Originally posted on Huffington Post.
Peg Abernathy is a diabetes subject matter expert, media consultant, writer and speaker with over 20 years professional experience in the diabetes industry. Her unique perspective of the diabetes pandemic and how it affects the individual is predicated on her own diagnosis of type 1 diabetes over 25 years ago. She brings a knowledgeable and passionate perception of the implications of managing pre-existing conditions with regard to healthcare access, personal lifestyle and corporate relevancy in the social media driven diabetes consumer landscape.
Peg spent 2.5 years on Sirius Radio as a writer, producer and on-air talent for the Lime Network. She began her media career as a studio session singer and has over 50 commercial and film credits. She works in Los Angeles and New York.