Recently, Mayor David Holt declared a pride week in my home town of Oklahoma City. It made me think – do I know any LGBTQ T1Ds? Yep, and not only is she my friend, she is one of the only people I know that has had diabetes as long as I have – hence the title – T1D dinosaurs. We are a rare breed and it was thrilling to sit with Bonnie and share what life was like 35+ years ago growing up with this disease. Bonnie and Jennifer did a fabulous job sharing how managing diabetes is sometimes a group effort.
I’ve never been a dater so the recent wave of blind dates catapulted me out of my comfort zone. Like most people, I had the first date jitters. What am I going to wear? Hair up or down? Can I curse? Normal thoughts, right? Then it dawned on me – at some point diabetes will be a topic of discussion and what did I really want to share on a first date?
A Little History About How We Met… Liam and I met during our first year at Trent University in Peterborough, Canada as we lived in the same residence building and were part of a pretty tight knit group of friends. The very first time I spoke to Liam was during our frosh week. He was about to run a bouncy castle obstacle course race and I was behind him in the lineup. He jumped into the obstacle course and had been gone for a couple minutes. Our crew began to question why he was gone so long because the obstacle was only supposed to last about 30 seconds. Just then, Liam walked around from the back of the obstacle course (the end of the course was actually at the front) and looked very disoriented and upset. His upper lip was incredibly swollen and cut up and he was complaining of neck pain. He had jumped out of the back of the bouncy castle and landed face first onto the ground.
An Introduction To Diabetes: The next morning in the cafeteria, the first words I EVER said to Liam were “merry Christmas fat lip” because his lip was still swollen from face planting the night before and was wearing a red and green outfit. He was embarrassed, but loved the silliness of my comment and we became very close after that. From the beginning, I had no idea Liam had diabetes. He hid his pump under his shirt and never tested his blood or changed his pump sites around me. Diabetes never held him back from being athletic and energetic so I never suspected this young crazy teenage boy actually had an autoimmune disease.
A couple weeks into university I asked Liam what he was allergic to, after noticing he was wearing a medic alert bracelet. He laughed and said he was allergic to sugar, or a type 1 diabetic. I wasn’t really sure what this meant. I only knew one other PWD, my aunt who was recently diagnosed. I didn’t know Liam all that well at that point and wasn’t comfortable asking him tons of questions about diabetes. I was nervous, didn’t want to sound dumb, worried I would embarrass or upset him. I never thought any less of Liam or that he was fragile or weak because of diabetes. It didn’t change my view on him whatsoever. He was still silly, loud and had an endless amount of energy so I didn’t think diabetes could be that serious of an illness. His explanation was so brief and nonchalant, which helped to show me that it wasn’t something that would stop him from living properly in any way. Discovering Liam has T1D encouraged me to learn more about diabetes and how I could help him. I did most of my learning through asking questions and he was very open about it.
This is something I believe no type 1 should be afraid to do. Asking questions and being open to answering questions spreads knowledge and curbs incorrect and therefore annoying assumptions about type 1.
Diabetes was by no means how we met or the reason we began our relationship, but throughout the last year, Liam and I were thrown into some surprising situations that have shown me type 1 definitely has a lighter side. With all the advice and moderately frightening anecdotal evidence pointing towards diabetes being a massive challenge and something that should be taken seriously, we forget there are parts of being around a type 1 that are eye-opening, unique and wildly funny. Continue reading →