I am now very different. This change came about 2 years ago, at the age of 16, when I started my first and on-going relationship with my boyfriend, Adam. We'd been together for a few weeks, and I had only mentioned in brief that I was a diabetic, when I began to feel very low whilst hanging out at his place. At this time I was not at all the prepared or responsible diabetic that I should have been and so didn't have any glucose tabs with me.
I remember sitting there, trying to pluck up the courage to tell him how I was feeling and what I needed, allowing myself to go lower and lower until I got that horrid, uncontrollable shaking in my hands (I don't know if anyone else gets this when they go low, but it's usually one of the first signs that my body gives me!) My thoughts went back and forth: Will he still like me if I tell him? Will it freak him out? until I realised that I needed to stop being so silly...this was a life/death situation!!
So this is how it went:
Me: Erm...Adam...Don't panic or anything, because it's okay, but my diabetes is making me feel quite low, which means I need some sugar quite quickly. Have you got any sugary drinks?
...As you can see, not a problem. At all.
So, here are a few of my tips for avoiding the ULTIMATE embarrassment of going into a diabetic-induced coma, or just becoming really ill in front of people to avoid maybe a minute of blushing:
- On a first date, or when you start becoming friends with someone, tell them you're diabetic! Let them know what it means and just don't make a big deal about it. Stay cool and calm. I can assure you that they won't think any less of you because you're diabetic - if they like you then they will respect you and take you as you are, diabetes or no diabetes! If, in the unexpected and unlikely situation that they do make a fuss of things and judge you unfairly, it's probably a pretty good indicator that they're not the kind of person that is worth bothering with in the first place!
- Always have a back-up plan! Wherever you go, make sure that you have everything you need in case of an emergency. This includes: blood testing monitor and finger pricker, glucose tabs and injection pen. I have had to learn from experience that these little gems are vital to avoiding embarrassment (see my Diabetes Bloopers post). If you don't have them, when the D starts to throw temper tantrums in its unpredictable state, you are going to have to go through the whole ordeal of explaining the ins and outs of your diabetic situation to a stranger. Being prepared is always a good thing.
My bag, on a recent night out clubbing. Okay, so it's a bit of a tight squeeze, but hey ho!
- Never be afraid to question. Let's face it, some people are down-right ignorant. I can't even count on my fingers and toes the amount of times that I have had to take back drinks to the counter at McDonald's, or ask waiters at restaurants if they definitely gave me the Diet Coke that I asked for rather than the most-definitely normal Coca-Cola that I can identify quite easily (there is a distinctive difference in taste, regardless of what anyone tries to tell me!) Over the years, I've come to realise that the only way to avoid this mix-up of understanding is to mention as you order. Now, when I order a drink I always say "Can you make sure that definitely is diet please, just because I'm diabetic?" Trust me, the moment you utter the word 'diabetic' is the moment they will make sure that your drink is sugar free. No one wants to be sued do they?
- Do it if you need to! I admit it, if I can get away with not doing my blood test in front of people, or not revealing my injection pen to the world then I will. If there's a toilet about then that's where I'll toddle off to, rather than exposing the fact that I'M A DIABETIC to the entire shopping mall, or class of fellow students. However, there are times when it's urgent! Once, I was at a bus stop waiting for my bus into town when I began to feel so hi that I felt physically sick. Yes, there were other people sat at the bus stop also, but that didn't stop me from whipping my injection pen out of my bag and giving myself a few units in my stomach (as discretely as possible, of course!) Sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures and it's not worth putting off testing your blood glucose levels, or not giving yourself your insulin just because you're in front of others.
Of course I know that diabetes can seem embarrassing sometimes, but acknowledging it and occasionally allowing yourself to experience a blush or two could prevent one massiveeee 'OMG - CRINGE!' moment.
Peace and love, guys'n'gals x