Going to college and introducing your boyfriend to diabetes
Living with diabetes is never just a one-person job. It is important to have a strong support system whether you have just been diagnosed and are making huge changes, or have been living with diabetes for years and are a pro. This got me thinking about my boyfriend Bryce who is involved in managing my diabetes. Together we cook carb counted meals, pack snacks and Glucose SOS when we go on dates, and we make sure I have extra supplies in my Insulated Travel Bag when we go on vacation. Bryce has always been very supportive of me and helping manage my diabetes. This point in our relationship, however, did not happen right away. It took a lot of time, patience, and understanding of one another to get to where we are now. Now that we are in such a great place in our relationship, I asked Bryce a few questions about how he helps me manage my diabetes. Here is how he worded conquering diabetes with me.
Q: How do you feel you help me live with diabetes?
A: “I try to help plan and prepare meals often. Having a busy schedule and managing responsibilities makes it harder to eat good, nutritious meals, and stay on a solid eating schedule. I know that it is important for you to eat meals balanced with carbohydrates and proteins and to eat at certain times. If I can help plan and make those meals ahead of time, like packing lunches for you, I think that can help you stay consistent.
Q: How did you encourage me to check my blood sugar more often and carry my diabetes supplies with me when we met in college?
A: “College is such a stressful time for everyone, especially someone living with a medical condition. College kids usually don’t follow any type of schedule, and that can be detrimental to a diabetic. I would try and remind you to eat or ask if you had eaten that day. At that time too, you didn’t have your Dexcom and were really bad about checking your blood sugar. I would ask if you had checked it recently or suggest that you check it if you started acting funny.
It’s also a time when everyone wants to fit in. If you were a ‘popular’ kid in high school you want to maintain that status. If you weren’t, you want to change who you are now. It can be such an in between time and not fitting in can feel like life and death to a college student. That’s why I encouraged you to take your Diabetes Supply Case out in public and check your sugar. If it’s not weird or abnormal to you, then it isn’t to anyone else either. I also feel like having a cute girly case helped you too. It didn’t really look like a medical supplies case, more like a cute bag that girls carry around. I feel like this helped you be more comfortable taking it out in public or making it part of your outfit when you went places.
College is a notorious time for young adults to have terrible diets. There would be times when we lived off pizza and pasta, but I would try to discourage it as best I could. Being a health major in college helped me understand a little better the kind of diet and exercise you needed as a diabetic. I would try to encourage us to exercise a little more, even if it meant just walking to class instead of driving. I would also come over and help you cook dinner which helped you eat better foods.”
Q: What is something you find I need reminders about?
A: “You know, that’s such a hard question for me. At first I felt like I had no right to get on to you about your diabetes, after all you had been living with it for so many years. But as I got to know you more and our relationship grew, I realized it was more about me trying to take care of you so that you could live the best life possible. In college and for a short period of time after, you didn’t have your Dexcom. You were so bad about checking your blood sugar consistently. I would ask you all the time if you had checked your sugar. At first, I think you kind of felt the same way I did, like “what right does he have to ask?” But you started to warm up to the idea of it after we had an open conversation about it. Now that you have your Dexcom, I would say it’s helped you so much. You were already really good about carb counting and bolusing for meals so I would say that was just the piece you were missing to really manage your diabetes much more easily.”
I’m lucky to have Bryce in my life. His support has been so helpful and helps reduce the stress of living with diabetes each day. Having him help me remember everything I need to do or just having him there to listen when I have a bad day has been great for me. Finding friends, loved ones, and co-workers as a support system, that is very worthwhile in my opinion.
By: Amy Powell, living with T1D since 2009