Dating is hard enough without the extra baggage of a chronic or autoimmune condition like diabetes. Since long-term relationships have always seemed beyond me, I’ve had my fair share of dating experiences.
The first date starts out the same way for me as everybody else. You get ready, distracted enough to keep your nervousness at bay. Checking blood sugars every few minutes to make sure the stress isn’t making them go haywire.
Wait. That’s not like everyone else?
OK. Well, you just want to make sure they don’t go too high or too low while you are trying to get to know your date.
Oh, don’t forget to take a look at the menu of wherever you’re going beforehand so you can find out what they have that suits your needs, and how much insulin you will need to cover it. If you can do the estimation beforehand, you might be able to dose yourself without your date noticing. You keep your fingers crossed that you guessed right. You can always excuse yourself to take a blood sugar reading in the restroom, but you only want to do that once. Any more might seem a little weird. One more finger stick before you get out of your car to meet your date.
Best case scenario: That knot in your stomach eases, and you have a good time. Hopefully, better than good.
Then comes the next date. When do you reveal what you’ve got? How much do you say? How do you drop it casually, offhandedly? Maybe you just say what a pain it is to go to the restroom every time you need to check a blood sugar. But it’s way too early to say how serious your condition really is, about how there will be times when your symptoms will force you to cancel plans because you don’t want anyone to see you that sick. Or that you have more doctors than any five of your colleagues put together.
After a while longer, you want to take your new squeeze home. Using protection should always be a given, but when your immune system hates you, you cannot make mistakes. Ever. Does anyone really want to risk chronic or autoimmune symptoms imploding over a $1.50 condom?
I also have the special challenge of being permanently attached to an insulin pump. I’ve found that guys don’t really care, but I am self-conscious about it. And where do you put a medical device at intimate moments? I still don’t have a good answer for that, although attempting to find a good answer can lead to a certain kind of funny.
But the funniest part? It’s all self-imposed. While I work myself up looking for the Book of Love, no guy I have ever dated blinked twice at my “big reveals.” And yet, I do it every time. Just like every girl on the planet, but with that extra chapter.
Claire Sachs lives in the Washington, DC area. With 35 years as a patient with multiple conditions such as diabetes, kidney disease, anemia, asthma, and cataracts (well, technically she’s ignoring that one until she can’t anymore), she recently started a patient advocacy blog, The Patient Advocate’s Chronicle. Find her on Twitter @TheAdvocateIsIn and on Facebook. This column appears through our partnership with Inspire, an Arlington, Va., company with condition-specific online support communities for more than a million patients and caregivers.