Ashley Hall is a Novo Nordisk employee with type 1 diabetes who shares her story of living with a partner who also has type 1 diabetes.
When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes it felt like learning a whole new language. I had to start thinking about things I’d never thought of before, like how to look at carbs or dose my insulin or manage my blood sugar. As time went on, it became second nature. But as I got older and started dating I began to worry about whether I could find someone who would understand me, or if a relationship with diabetes would get lost in translation.
I used to meet someone new and think: Should I tell them about my type 1 diabetes or try to hide it? How will they react? Do I try and teach them what I know? How do I incorporate this huge part of my life into a new relationship?
When I was single I couldn’t imagine finding someone to share my life with, who would accept and come to understand the day-to-day challenges of living with the disease. I’m fortunate to have found that person in my fiancé, Daniel, who also lives with type 1 diabetes. Loving and living with each other over the years has been a learning experience and an adventure.
When I met Daniel, I remember this weight just kind of lifted – because he got it. He understood. I didn’t have to explain anything and I think he felt the same way. Daniel knows what I need to do to manage my diabetes day-to-day. He understands what it’s like to have high blood sugar or what it feels like to be low. He knows when to be supportive and when it’s best to take a step back. And I know how to do the same for him.
It’s kind of cool. We work together. If we’re going somewhere or plan a trip, we pack for both of us: “Do you have your insulin?” “Do you have your test strips?”
We’re both adventurous, and actually hiked up a volcano in Hawaii last year. Daniel knows my blood sugar can get low on long hikes, and he was great. Every half hour, he’d ask, “How are you feeling? Do we need to check?” I was full-speed ahead: “Let’s get to the top, let’s do this, let’s go!” He was there to balance me out, saying, “Let’s slow down. Let’s be responsible here.” Our individual experiences with diabetes helps us keep the other one on track.
At home, diabetes flows through our daily routines and conversations, but we try to give one another space too. Early in our relationship, we chose not to ask the other or give unsolicited advice about things like treatment decisions, lab results or doctor visits. We both recognized that we’d had diabetes long enough to know what we were doing, and it’s worked for us.
I remember being a teenager and feeling desperate for anyone to tell me I could live a normal life, that I could date and be successful with type 1 diabetes. It can be hard as a young person to deal with something that makes you feel different. To anyone who feels the way I did, my advice is that having diabetes isn’t anything to be embarrassed about. It’s a part of your life, and you should be open to sharing that with someone else. I was, and it led me to find someone who truly speaks my language.
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