A wonderfully candid letter from a kindred spirit, which appeared in my mailbox last week:
I totally related to your November 26th post about feeling "displaced" as an adult with type 1 diabetes. So much is said about adults with type 2 and children with type 1—and more recently children with type 2—that we grown-up type 1s seem to fall last on the list. I would LOVE to attend a camp or other type of bonding event where we could all commiserate about our daily struggles and how the rest of the world just doesn't understand!
While we're at it, I'd like to focus a bit of attention on an adult sub-group that is perhaps even MORE overlooked: Those of us who are SINGLE, and beyond that, single and living alone! I have no idea how many of us there are, but I have met quite a few over the years. I wrote an article on the subject for Diabetes Forecast magazine after moving into my own apartment in 1999.
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Although I still love my apartment and my single life, I admit that living alone has adversely affected my diabetes control. Back when I had roommates, my A1cs averaged in the 6.5%-6.8% range. Since moving in by myself, they're more like 7.0% to 7.3%. That's because I'm always erring on the side of caution, letting my sugar run a bit high rather than risk a nighttime low. Not a bedtime goes by when I don't say a little prayer that I'll wake up the next morning. I'm sure all type 1s understand that feeling, but it's gotta be worse for those of us with no one around to catch us if we "fall."
My mother, who lives more than 200 miles away, worries about me constantly. She still has vivid memories of urgently feeding me orange juice—and administering the occasional glucagon shot—after I was diagnosed at age 9 in 1973. Like many mothers, she pesters me about getting married. But in this case, it's not as much about giving her grandkids (thankfully, my sister did that). I keep having to tell her that I'm not about to get married simply because of my diabetes!
But she does have a point. Beyond the concern about hypoglycemia in the present, she worries about my future: Will there be anyone to take care of me if/when my diabetes—or even other another health problem—finally catches up? Of course, this isn't just an issue for current singletons. These days, type 1s are such a healthy bunch that many who are married could easily outlive their nondiabetic spouses...What then? I don't mean to ruin anyone's day, but it's something important to think about!
On another adult type 1 front, becoming a first-time "pumper" just a few weeks ago has re-focused my attention on my single status—It was one of the major reasons for my longtime refusal to wear a pump, despite the obvious health benefit. I didn't want some yucky-looking medical device on my body that might put off potential dates! I still sort of feel that way, but am actively trying to get over it. After all, I keep telling myself, any guy who's squeamish about my insulin pump probably couldn't have handled my previous 5-8 shots per day habit, either!
But then there are—speaking of "adult" topics—certain "practical" pump considerations...Yes, I'm talking about sex! As a new pumper, I've got questions: I've been told that you simply unhook when you do The Deed. But, um, you're not supposed to leave the pump off for more than an hour...What if you want to "go at it" longer?! And with the pump off, how do you prevent your partner's body from accidentally rubbing up against the infusion site—or for you OmniPodders, the Pod itself—and dislodging it? Has that ever happened to anyone?
Does anyone keep the pump on during sex? If so, what do you do with it while you're "Doing It??"
Whew. Well, that oughta get the campfire discussion going... Amy, thanks so much for providing a forum and for your extraordinary hard work in keeping us informed about All Things Diabetes. You are an invaluable resource and a real treasure. Very best wishes for a happy and healthy 2008!
Miriam E. Tucker
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Well... one thing I can tell you is that the OmniPod does press into me rather uncomfortably in intimate moments. As noted, my husband's a pretty big guy. But we've also been together seemingly since time began (married for nearly 18 years now), so nothing I say or do surprises him much. I most certainly understand that the dynamics are different for singles.
Any suggestions, Dear Readers?