“Hi! I’m your new roommate, Molly. Oh yeah, I have diabetes!”
“So, just one minor thing you ought to know… I have diabetes…”
“If you like, ever see me shooting up, it’s not drugs. I mean it is, but not the bad kind.”
Telling someone that you’re going to live with that you have diabetes is not always the easiest conversation. How do you bring it up in a way that is casual, but still lets the person know that this is something that should be taken seriously? For the first time in two years, I had to deal with telling a brand-new roommate this not-so minor detail.
You might be wondering why I have a new roommate halfway through the school year. My apartment, which is designed to be occupied by four people, had three open spots for the spring semester. My roommates from the fall, who I had known since the start of college, moved out at the end of last semester. I know what you’re thinking – I scared them all away! But luckily that’s not the case at all and it was a decision made on good terms.
Since the beginning of January, I’ve been anxiously checking to see whether or not I had been assigned a new roommate – or roommates. I didn’t know if all three spots would be filled or if I would end up living alone. The prospect of being the sole occupant of my apartment was both exciting and scary. I liked the idea of having a large space to myself and getting a true taste of independence, but then I remembered that I’m a naturally social person. I don’t love being alone for extended periods of time. Normally, any loneliness that I faced last semester was fixed by the presence of my closest friends in college, who lived just up the hill from me. Unfortunately for me, those same friends are studying abroad this semester. The only friends I have known since freshman year of college live off-campus, so the cure for loneliness is now a bus or car ride away.
Forget my need for company, there’s also the issue of my health and safety. What would happen if I had a severe low blood sugar and needed help? What if, for some reason, I couldn’t leave my apartment or make it to my cell phone? As I pondered the seriousness of this problem, I realized it would probably be best if someone new moved in.
In mid-January, I learned that one person would be moving in. I breathed a sigh of relief. I wasn’t confident in my ability to share the apartment with three strangers, but I was certain that I could manage one. And I knew that I should make it a priority to be open about my diabetes right off the bat by simply telling her about it, instead of surprising her by sticking myself with needles sans explanation.
So, I had the “I-have-diabetes” conversation with her the first night back at school. She was totally cool with it, and I didn’t even have to delve into much detail. I told her that diabetes has been a part of my life for many years, and that I have good control over it. I also made a couple of jokes, just to lighten the mood. We still don’t know each other very well, but I have the impression that she’s aware of my ability to handle it yet wary of any possible emergencies that could crop up.
My advice to anyone concerned about the roommate/diabetes discussion is to not fret about it. Let it be a conversation that is natural, but don’t put it off for long. It is best to talk about it sooner than later in order to mentally prepare your roommate for the sight of you injecting yourself or changing your pump site when they walk into the room. I promise it’s not as scary as it seems, and it’s a huge relief when it’s over because it’s one less thing you have to worry about where your diabetes management is concerned.