Some of you may know that I've been working closely with fellow advocate and blogger Allison Blass these days. We have a ton in common, and I love her perspective on life with the Big D. Today, you can join me in cheering for her new relationship! She also wanted to share how difficult it can be starting out with someone wholly unfamiliar with her illness...
A Guest Post by Allison Blass
and colleagues. I have formed personal and professional relationships in dozens of cities across the U.S. and even a few in other countries. I try my best to be friendly and compassionate, and I've been blessed with a solid social circle.
However, one relationship that I've not had much experience with in the 15 years of having diabetes is a romantic relationship.
But that all changed a month ago when I started dating a new guy. At the beginning, everything went surprisingly smooth. We have similar beliefs, our interests and hobbies mesh well, and our phone calls last far too long for a school night. It was perfect... But when you have a chronic illness that impacts pretty much everything you do, it doesn't take long before you're faced with the decision of whether or not to bring up the Big D. Any healthy relationship requires honesty, and in every relationship I've ever had, diabetes has been on the table from the very beginning.
When it came to friends and co-workers, most of my diabetes education came at their request, whether they were inquiring about my various gadgets (glucose meter and pump), if I could eat something and occasionally asking me if something they heard was true or not. It was a very reactive education. But when it came to a romantic relationship, would it be better to be reactive when he saw my insulin pump or proactive and bring it up in a conversation casually?
I know lots and lots and lots of people who have diabetes and have managed to not only date but also get engaged and get married with diabetes. But I also know a lot of people who have been rejected because of the fear, uncertainty and annoyance that diabetes injects (pardon the pun) into everyday life. I have read blogs and articles about people who deal with diabetes once the relationship is off and running — but I haven't read much about that first talk.
My question, O Wise Internets, is this: How did you go about educating your significant other about diabetes? Were you proactive in discussing what diabetes is, how you manage it, and the dreaded the complications? Or did you wait for your significant other to approach you, answering questions as they came about? If you were proactive, how did you go about educating? Did you use books, websites, social networks? Did you send a link to your blog? (I may or may not have done that...)
Personally, I don't think there is a right or wrong answer, but I would love to hear your experiences. It's something that I haven't encountered much, so I would love to have a resource for others who are starting a new relationship and are uncertain about how to broach the topic of diabetes. New relationships are already shaky territory and something has complicated as diabetes can put a huge strain on things.
Share your thoughts in the comments or via email at amblass at gmail dot com, and next week I'll follow-up with some responses I receive. Thanks!
Let's give Allison a virtual hand here. What say you, Wise Readers?