Considering the provocative title, you'd think I would have gotten around to reading this book ages ago! But instead, it sat on my shelf winking at me for far too long. Now that I have finally opened it, this book has opened my mind to yet another "secret chamber" of diabetes concerns that so many of us struggle with alone: relationships and sex. 'Cause all the stuff we have to do to care for this disease day in and day out is just the core of it, after all...
What I liked about this short volume (just 170 pages) was that it's a collection of brief conversations, vignettes, and lists of situations any PWD faces with family, friends, and lovers. And it offers both the perspective of the diabetic AND THE OTHER PARTY. Talk about mind-opening.
btw, did I mention that this book was co-written by three of my favorite Diabetes Community Celebs? That would be Dr. William Polonsky, founder of the Behavioral Diabetes Institute; Dr. Steven Edelman, founder of the TCOYD (Take Care of Your Diabetes) traveling conference program; and Janis Roszler, CDE, radio hostess, and beloved diabetes advice columnist.
Anyway, it's all about the lists! Here are two of my favorites, and why:
(reprinted directly from pages 61 and 169 of the book, respectively)
WHAT A PERSON WITH DIABETES MAY WANT HIS OR HER FRIENDS TO KNOW
1. I hate to admit it, but I can't always control my feelings, especially if my blood sugars are out of range.
2. I am not always open to advice from my loved ones. Sometimes I prefer to figure it out myself or get guidance exclusively from my healthcare team.
3. When aggravated or upset, I sometimes say things I don't mean. If I do that, please know that I am sorry.
4. I really hate having diabetes!
Now this is a list I can relate to. The authors have hit the nail on the proverbial head. So I can only assume that the flip-side of this list is equally accurate:
WHAT A LOVED ONE MAY WANT THE PERSON WITH DIABETES TO KNOW
1. It is sometimes difficult to know the right thing to say or do when you are stressed or depressed about diabetes. Please don't be angry if I say or do the wrong thing.
2. I want to do the right thing and say the right words. I may not be successful, but I am trying.
3. I really hate diabetes, too!
Just reading those words lifted me up over here. Of course they're trying! I may need to paste this on my fridge.
And moving on to the bedroom, this list said it all:
WHAT A WOMAN MAY WANT A MAN TO KNOW ABOUT SEXUAL ISSUES
1. Emotions play a great role in my ability to get "in the mood." My sexual interest can be enhanced by romantic gifts, tender touches, and words of love and affection.
2. When I don't feel well, it is difficult to enjoy sexual activities.
3. I may find it awkward to discuss sexual issues. Often times, I may be uncertain about what to ask of you. Please be patient and supportive.
So once again, I have to assume that the male-side list sums it up pretty well, too:
WHAT A MAN MAY WANT A WOMAN TO KNOW ABOUT SEXUAL ISSUES
1. ED has nothing to do with how attractive or desirable you are.
2. An erection problem is devastating to the male ego. I feel terrible when this happens and really need your support.
3. I may have difficulty being open about such personal issues. Even if I do not discuss them with you, I do appreciate your love and concern.
You get the idea... Definitely a recommended read if you're concerned about any of these issues -- not least because it seems to be the only book currently published that focuses specifically on Diabetes and Your Love Life. (Surrey Books, 2004, $13.57 on Amazon.com)