My Diabetic Valentine


Jessica Apple found love thanks to:

a) tuna fish

b) an omelete

c) falafel

d) quiche

e) gummy bears

The correct answer is C, falafel.  Did you guess right?  Let me explain why.

When I was 18-years-old and just out of high school, instead of going directly to college, I decided to spend a year abroad, which began with three-months of studying in Jerusalem.  One evening, a few weeks after my program began, a friend of mine named Jon – a hefty guy who took his eating seriously – had an intense falafel craving.  “Come out for falafel with me, Jess,” he said.

“No.  I’m not hungry,” I said.  “I want to stay in my room and read.”

“Please,” Jon said.  He was almost begging.  “Just one falafel and that’s it.”

Clearly, the man needed his fix.  I’m usually stubborn, but I relented.

Jon and I took a bus to downtown Jerusalem.  I watched Jon eat his falafel.  Like a mudslide, hummus and tehina ran down the sides of the pita bread.  I ate nothing.  I didn’t say much either.  I was terrible company and I knew it.  I waited politely for Jon to finish, and then I said, “let’s go back.”

“No,” Jon said.  “Let’s go grab a beer.”

Once again I declined his offer.

“Just one beer.  Ten minutes.  Then we’ll head back,” he said.  “I promise.”

“Fine,” I said.

We walked down the street to the bar where my dorm-mates hung out.  Jon got his beer.  Again, I had nothing, and I don’t think I said anything either.  I was annoyed at Jon and I was annoyed at myself for agreeing to do something I didn’t want to do.  I did, however, stop being annoyed long enough to notice that a few tables away sat a very good looking guy who was smiling at me.  I sort of smiled back.  When I got up to leave the bar, the very handsome guy came to the door and said, “Hi, I’m Mikey.”

“Hi,” I said.  Then I left, headed straight for the bus stop, and didn’t look back.  Had I turned around I would have seen Mikey following me.

Two months later I returned to the same bar.  Mikey was there – and I would later learn – he had been every weekend for two months in hope of finding me.   I remembered him and smiled, so he came to sit at my table.  When the waitress put a plate of olives in front of us, we both reached to push them away and said, almost in unison, “I hate olives.”

“What about tomatoes?” I asked.

“I really hate them,” Mikey said.


“Hate those too.”

Seven years later, Mikey and I got married.  There were no olives, pickles, or tomatoes at our wedding.

These days Mike and I eat similarly too, thanks to the fact that in the last decade we’ve both been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.  And no surprise –  emotionally, diabetes has brought us closer than ever.  Physically we’re closer now too, thanks to the occasional unintentional needle sharing.  What I mean is, since we have identical glucometers (a bad idea?), every now and then one of us accidentally uses the wrong one.  Just two days ago while in a terrible rush, I reached for the lancet on the counter without thinking, didn’t change the needle, and pricked myself.  Turned out it was Mike’s lancet.  Oopps.  I sent him a text message that said, “I used your pricker.”

When you share a disease and occasionally swap a little blood, who needs Valentine’s Day to mark a relationship?  Right?  But nonetheless, I’m expecting Mike to buy me a nice box of dark chocolate.  Or maybe he’ll take me out for falafel.

I asked my diabetic friends to share some thoughts on Valentine’s Day.  Check them out!

Catherine Price

I was diagnosed on February 17th, 2001, which means I have no clear memory of what happened on Valentine’s Day that year. I remember something about a movie theater and feeling very, very tired, but I can’t remember any details. All I know is at that point I probably couldn’t see straight, and I think I’d just gotten up from bed, since I’d spent the beginning of that week throwing up from what must have been ketoacidosis. In other words, it wasn’t terribly romantic. But ever since then Valentine’s Day has made me think of diabetes — I try to imagine it as a really twisted sort of anniversary.

Kerri Morrone Sparling

As an insulin-pump wearing type 1 diabetic, I knew I found the right guy when that moment of “disconnecting my pump” became just as sexy as the moments that followed.  (Doesn’t hurt that he’s also willing to keep cookies by the bed, just in case of a low.  Rawr!)

Karmel Allison

Dear Valentine,


your heart I take

you offered

you did between the arms

of a red envelope


beneath a bow die-cut

a reference I think

to some infant Neoclassic

cliche and

your box of chocolates


Yes your heart I take

and your chocolate

and I offer you

an exchange your heart

for my heart your

chocolate for

my burden:

your chocolate if

I want it eat it

wake you at night

drowning in my

bloodstream viscous

and sweet I threaten

our children their

genes from me in

broken glucose chains

a life of counting

concerns a set of terms

nephrology and decay the death

til we part

possibly today.

Dear Valentine,

forgive me this

sorry exchange

and instead let’s say

your chocolate you

keep our hearts we’ll trade.

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