I wrote a list of 10 Things We Women with Diabetes Want You to Know over at DiabetesMine.com. I was very honored to post over there. Do check it out!
I wrote about this because I had just gotten married a year before and the experience of dating culminating in a lifelong commitment inspired me to reach out to others in their dating era. One of the top search prompts that leads people over to this blog has to do with dating and diabetes and you’d be surprised how many guys pop over here trying to figure out if they should date a girl with diabetes or if they themselves having diabetes, should tell their prospective dates that they have it. This is my opinion cut from my own experience. Feel free to disagree.
Originally posted August 3rd, 2009
I feel like I’ve arrived at a pretty decent place (wasn’t always this way). It involves self appreciation and self respect. It highly influences my diabetes management and my control of that pesky depression issue…
Maybe you’ve already noticed but, I’ve got a bit of a “loner” personality. I’m not the type to bend to peer pressure and I never was a “social drinker”. Heck I can enjoy champagne all by myself. I used to love eating alone at a restaurant and even going to the movie theater alone. And I didn’t go in hiding or as if ashamed to be alone. Red lipstick and high heels came along for a fabulous night out with moi. This had nothing to do with picking up a date or anything either. It was about just getting excited to spend quality time with myself. Long ago the thought of going out alone would have killed me. Now I’ve romanticized the idea of taking care of myself and appreciating my own company. I honestly have convinced myself it’s the cool and fabulous thing to do. After all, we are all worth treating ourselves right, right?
This doesn’t mean I put others last or that I always put myself first. It just means that instead of bashing myself all day, I try to be nicer and more appreciative. The way my body looks drives me bonkers since giving birth to twins but, ahh isn’t it nice how my belly stretched to absurd greats just to accommodate two new lives-kind of magical no? Yes, it is.
People poke fun at me for being a total nerd, but on the other hand isn’t it fantastic when someone loves learning and gets excited over Albert Einstein’s quotes!?
And yes, I’m pretty bad about functioning in the morning but, maybe that just means I have more energy in the afternoon!
You need to do this for your amazing self. Even if it feels a little silly.
In many cases people hold their self-worth lower than other people. This should change.
Example: If you need to lose weight, tell yourself that you are so worth cooking healthy food for. You are gorgeous and fabulous and deserve to take a little time out of your busy day to exercise. When you want a third helping of cake, tell yourself you are worth the trouble it takes to restrain yourself. (Sometimes this means I tell my husband to take it away from me but, hey, same outcome)
Maybe one of these days you could plan a date night for you and yourself. Just go somewhere you like-the coffee shop or a bistro or theater or ball game and enjoy your own company. Treat yourself nice, get a nice meal or snack, spiff yourself up (in your own style/fashion of course), and don’t you dare think a negative thing about yourself the entire time! Think about your strengths and appreciate the parts of your body that are working properly, as opposed to thinking about your pancreas-don’t even stop there for a second.
You’d be surprised how much this will help guide your decisions regarding your diabetes management in favor of wonderful you.
6. I want you to know that Diabetes is very serious and although diabetics often seem carefree, they’re often not, whether they manage they’re diabetes well or not.
5. I want you to know that Diabetes is not nearly as common in 3rd world and Developing countries as it is in Developed ones. This means that we should pay attention to what we’re doing differently and learn what we can change to help ourselves-such as eating differently. Just because we’re “developed” doesn’t mean we’re doing all the right things. Nor does it mean the convenience of pop tarts is worth it.
4. I want you to know that Diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from reaching your dreams. Your dreams however, may have to make some small adjustments.
3. I want you to know that Diabetes isn’t as silent a killer as people think. If you don’t feel super duper great, then your health isn’t in tip top shape. Many adults don’t know they have diabetes but, they know they don’t feel too hot. We should expect to feel healthy and if we don’t we should strive to figure out what is between us and feeling great and then work towards feeling wonderful again. Maybe we’ll never feel wonderful but, most can get pretty close with a lot of hard work. Our standards for feeling healthy should rise. Don’t settle for feeling so-so.
2. I want you to know that Diabetes is the hardest thing I’ve ever dealt with. And I’ve dealt with loss of family and friends. Not to mention large kidney stones, surgery, many years of depression, and chronic childhood shyness. (And there’s much more). Diabetes has been the worst experience of all and I’m afraid the worst is yet to come.
1. I want you to know that a cure for diabetes is being significantly delayed by a greed for money. Money rules the world only because we allow it to. We have more power than we think. Angry about corn syrup being in much of our food supply? Boycott any product with corn syrup. If many of us did this I promise you corn syrup would start disappearing from ingredient labels. Upset over the lack of diabetes support groups? Start one. Stop being a victim and start being the change you want to see in the world.
Gandhi sure had it right.
I can sympathize with people who squirm when they see blood coming out of a wound or a needle going into someone. I am one of those sensitive people that sees blood and has to fight from going a little loopy. When I was younger I had a particularly hard time getting my blood drawn for lab tests because although I wouldn’t look at my arm and the needle and tubing, I would imagine it. I would imagine the dark red flowing through the tubing and it would just make me want to pass out or throw up. Sometimes the nurse would have to put a cotton ball soaked in ammonia under my nose because it looked like I was “going to go” (meaning pass out).
Non-diabetics out there, if this is you, there is something I plead with you NOT to do. Don’t cringe when you see your diabetic friend or family member prick their finger or give an injection. Just look away. You’re a big girl or boy, now. No need to start hollering about how you get goose bumps or all tingly when you see us do our “freaky” and oh so necessary things.
If you have a serious phobia towards blood and needles, tell your diabetic friend in private. I’m pretty sure they will be respectful of you and do their business away from you or they’ll warn you before they do so you don’t have to witness.
But, please, please know how hurtful it can be when someone does this:
I was at work a while back when I went to eat lunch with a bunch of friends/co-workers. I did my usual thing and discreetly gave my insulin shot at the table. Someone noticed and started pointing and drawing attention to him and myself. He was sliding under the table and being overly dramatic. He went on about how he couldn’t watch (yet, he never looked away) and he said (while smiling) that what I was doing was hurting him. My normal self wanted to smack him. My exposed and self-conscious, embarrassed self felt hurt. I wanted to cry. I wanted to scream at him and say, “NO, the person this really hurts is me, because I do it or die, because the needle goes into ME, and because I have to do it in front of people who may react like YOU and cause an entire restaurant to stare at me.”
And at the very moment I thought I might explode into tears, a male co-worker said loudly to the guy causing the scene, “You’ve gotta be kidding me, hey buddy, I need you to man up.” The guy who was now laughing started excusing himself, “But, I ..I…” -“No excuses, I don’t want to hear them, you need to just man up”, replied my co-worker. I shot him a big “THANK YOU” look and we all went back to our lunch.
Maybe I’m saying too much when I say that I felt this guy stood up for all of us diabetics that day. It’s funny how many of us at work always found him kind of annoying because he was always so outspoken. Yet, when saying the right things, these people are treasures. They have the guts to say something loud, in front of a crowd, and deal with whatever happens as a result. I appreciate their boldness.
And about the people who are squeemish to what we diabetics have to do…people don’t mean to be disrespectful or hurtful with their actions. They just aren’t thinking. Or, they’re just thinking about themselves. So we just need to explain to them that they’re actions are hurtful and that if they truly have a hard time with what we do, we’ll respect that and do what we can to help them.
I can admit there needs to exist a mutual respect between those who “can’t handle” needles and those who survive by them.
What do you think?
While I would consider myself no expert on the subject of empathy, I would say that it is a natural quality of mine (unlike so many other things lol). Not something I take credit for, just something I was born with it seems. Today it’s all about the greatness of empathy and how you and I can put it into practice more frequently.
What is empathy? You know that saying, “walk a mile in another man’s shoes”? Well…it’s like that. Empathy is imagining how someone is feeling and you can even learn to anticipate how someone will react to something. I was in an empathy training for work years ago. We had a series of questions to answer and then we reviewed everyone’s answers. Out of 30 people only two of us had “acceptable” answers. It led me to believe that many people may be a bit out of touch with using empathy.
Or maybe it’s not that we don’t know to use empathy. Maybe we only use it with loved ones. This is a big problem because often, people who could really use our empathy are acquaintances, or even people we don’t like or know.
Don’t feel you owe anyone empathy because you’re suffering a lot? Well then consider that your actions dictate how others will treat you. You want understanding don’t you?
Well, here are ways to get into an empathy giving habit:
Imagine what someone may really be feeling/thinking.
When that “diabetes police” says “Geez, your blood sugar is high again!” imagine what that person might be feeling. Perhaps frustration in loving you and knowing that a high blood sugar doesn’t mean good things for you? Or maybe this person is just surprised or confounded by your blood sugar being high even though you seem to do really well and they are frustrated with your misfortune to have diabetes-not with you necessarily.
Change your choice of words.
You know how mothers act when their child does something daring (like jumping off the deck or roof of a house)? A mother will run to her child and instead of hug him in relief of his being ok, she’ll scold him at the top of her lungs and tell him ten different ways he’ll suffer if he ever scares her so badly again. What mom really meant was, “I love you so much and if something ever happened to you I don’t know how I’d go on so please don’t do this again-you might get hurt.”
This is how many of us are. It is natural for our fears to shake us up and make us speak in harsh or demanding tones when really we just feel worried about someone. So a great thing to try is to change our words. Tell your loved one, aka personal diabetes police officer, that you’d appreciate it if they’d instead say something like, “Oh no, your blood sugar is high again, you probably don’t feel well. How can I help?”
Look around you and put yourself in another’s shoes.
When you’re in line to buy groceries and someone ahead of you is a very old woman taking what you’d swear is a million years to write a simple check, stop yourself and imagine being her.
She is hunched over and so you figure her back must not feel so good. Her mind isn’t as quick as it once was so she is looking up at the monitor to make sure she got the amount correct on the check. You notice her fingers trembling just a tad and so imagine her fingers are having a tough time grasping the pen. And maybe she doesn’t feel well. Some days you don’t either and you’re not her. Perhaps she feels really awful and just wants to lie down. Instead, she is at the store by herself and is trying to just pay for her food and go home. Maybe the walk to the car won’t be easy…
You get what I mean. That was an easy example. What about when you get angry with the infamous (in the diabetes community) Halle Berry. Yes, her. You might be frustrated because she hasn’t done the amount of diabetes awareness work you’d like her too. You might be angry because years ago she said she turned into a type 2 diabetic from a type 1 with diet and exercise. And you might be frustrated because she doesn’t seem to have an understanding about the different types of diabetes and how her words impact so many.
Fair enough. But, I suggest we try hard at being as kind as we say we are. Try to give her the benefit of the doubt. She has helped raise money for diabetes and shows up at events, maybe she doesn’t want to do more because of some unknown struggle in her life? When she made the incorrect statement years ago about no longer having type 1, I think, well someone might have misinformed her. Not everyone does research on their own and maybe she thought that since she could afford a top doctor that he or she would be trustworthy. Why would someone say they went from type 1 to type 2 diabetic? I believe her understanding of the correct info was somehow lost somewhere. Maybe she didn’t understand what a doctor explained to her. Maybe a doctor gave her incorrect info. In later interviews she has said that she manages her long time type 2 diabetes with diet and exercise and that she used to use insulin-but doesn’t anymore. So it sounds like she has come closer to understanding her condition. She appears healthy so I can’t say she looks like she doesn’t know how to take care of herself. I guess time will be the one to really tell us. I wonder if she has a hard time with the constant media attention. I wonder if she hasn’t learned more about diabetes because it scares her and talking publicly about it might be depressing (hey, I know some people like this). I’d like it if we had her as a force on the diabetes awareness scene because she is so well-known. But, she isn’t required to do this and for us to act like she is, is wrong.
We’re in the same boat and sending her more rude messages than we send others who we wish would do more is also wrong because remember, diabetes is hard on everyone! If you think her life is easier than yours then you are still fighting your own ignorance. Besides, all the negative attention on a celebrity reinforces the thinking that celebrities are better than us or somehow above us non-celebrity folk. They’re not. We criticize when others make celebrities more than what they are. Then we turn around and bash them for mistakes that anyone might make. We say that because they’re famous they have greater responsibilities. I understand this. I also understand that if Halle Berry got online and read what everyone said about her in regards to her diabetes, she might steer clear of advocating for diabetes. You know, to steer clear of all the angry, hateful words and criticism. I wonder how may of us might to do the same, in her position. Maybe if we’re nicer and call out for her help…maybe then we’d get it.
So with that said, I’m proposing everyone try to empathize with those you find it hard to empathize with the most. I admit it’s not easy but, I’ll keep trying and you keep trying and together we’ll find that the Diabetes Online Community and the world is a much nicer place.
The last two months (May/June) my goal was to get back into an exercise routine of some sort. I was going to try to do regular yoga each day.
Plans changed however, and I had an opportunity to go to the gym. I really enjoy the gym and so I began either doing yoga at home or going to the gym and spending about 30-45 minutes there.
My weight is the same because as I adjusted to more exercise I found myself hungry and snacked more often. My weight didn’t change for another reason: I replaced fat loss with muscle gain and so although the scale didn’t move, I now fit into my clothes better. A huge plus when visiting the pool and getting back into summer dresses!
Now I just have to keep it up!
For July and August my resolution was to be more social.
I had a really tough pregnancy and have elected to stay home with my 1 year old twins. This has completely changed my social life. So now that life with the twins has settled into some sort of routine I want to connect with the outside world again.
I guess I’ll try calling old friends and invite them over to visit.
I’ll reach out more to the great online diabetic community.
And I’ll…I don’t know what else!
Anybody have any suggestions as to how to get back out there? Help!
Oh and incase you are wondering, I am following Leo Babauta’s The 6 Changes Method. Try it! It is a great way to accomplish some of your goals this year. It isn’t too late :)
Look him in the eyes sort of like this…
This is a must when you are in a serious relationship. You are not diabetes but, you are a diabetic so do remember how important it is your loved ones understand exactly what you are dealing with.
First of all, they need all of the basic technical information. You know, what is diabetes, hypoglycemia, insulin, etc. Then a bridge must be made between all of that information and the knowledge that although insulin keeps you alive and kicking, diabetes is very serious and for a diabetic, maintaining health is often a delicate balance and a never ending struggle.
No need to get dramatic here, BUT, it helps both of you if your partner is clued into the facts. When your blood sugar is up or down it helps to explain to him what it is you are feeling. A good guy will think about how amazing you are. You feel like that and yet you carry on all fabulous like.
He will also begin to anticipate little ways to help you. When my husband and I dated he eventually stocked bottles of juice in his truck for me-just as back up. We often went hiking or climbing and he quickly figured out how exercise would really push my sugars down.
And no, he didn’t know my diabetes was serious at the beginning. That took some time. Don’t expect your guy to remember everything you tell him and don’t give him all the info at once. It took you sometime to know all you do about your diabetes and the same goes for him.
Something you do want to do: observe how he reacts to your diabetes. You don’t want him to start panicking when you test and your sugar is low but, you do want to see concern and a willingness from him to quickly help in any way he can. After all, a good guy is like this whether you’re a diabetic or not, right?
A big thanks to all of the great guys out there who support us diabetic women, we know it isn’t easy and we love ya!
I’ve heard people say the hardest thing about dating and being a diabetic is the shame one might feel about all the “medical stuff” they have going on in their lives. Others mention that they feel they bring a ton of baggage to a relationship. Women have mentioned they feel scared that a man will see her as unable to bear children and thus run in the opposite direction. Women have also said they have a hard time feeling “sexy” as they look at their pump and the tubing attached to it and them.
I agree and If I had to say what the hardest thing about dating and being a diabetic was, I’d say it was the psychological effects that diabetes has on the mind. Wouldn’t that include all of the above?
Time and time again I notice that the major beef women have about being diabetic and dating is something they perceive or fear someone else will perceive about them.
I remember worrying about how my pump looked with my outfit and eventually discovering from my guy that he never even gave it a thought. He said he just knew it had to be there and understood the role it played in keeping me healthy. He just looked past it.
I also used to feel that because I had diabetes for so many years (now 15) I wouldn’t be able to have children. After all, I do have PCOS (Polycystic Ovarian Syndrome) a disorder which my doctor says was probably caused by the diabetes and which makes women unfertile. I made sure my husband was aware of the possibility before we got married and what do you know he was the first person at the church that day…
Anyway now I’ve got 8 month old twins! And believe me, I was the most surprised of all!
Another thing- I used to feel that a guy would literally run away from me when he found out I had a serious disease. This never happened (and I don’t look like a model, mind you).
I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. This fear of being a diabetic and dating is 90-some percent in our heads, ladies. What has worked for me is I have faked confidence in myself. Yep, you heard me. I have had all the doubts and crippling worries and yet to the outsider I seemed completely sure of myself and this has lead men to see me and maybe think, “hey, she looks happy and she doesn’t seem sick”.
Of course, I still struggle with the relationship thing and how it is affected by my diabetes. Despite being married (no, it doesn’t stop there!) I still have to tell those negative thoughts to go away or else I find them hurting my relationship.
So I guess my point with this post is just to place a reminder in all of our worrisome minds that we create most of the dating and diabetes drama ourselves and we should just relax, take care of ourselves, and be confident. Those three things will be something our guys will really cherish and appreciate.