The adorable guy walking next to me is talking, but I’m not processing what he’s saying. I’m 30 minutes in to a first date, and my blood sugar is dropping like a stone. I can feel the low creeping all over me – lightheaded, vision blurs, and a cold sweat breaks. I’m cursing the correction dose I took an hour ago that’s causing my glucose to plummet, just as I’m trying to make a good first impression with a guy I’m totally interested in. Annoyed, embarrassed, and feeling like crap, I have no choice but to let him know what’s up and pause to treat my BG, before I end up passed out on the sandy beach we’re strolling. Fortunately, we’d already breached the diabetes subject when we first met, and he happens to work in the medical field, but still, this is not how I pictured the first hour of this date going.
“Hey can we stop for a second, I need to check my blood sugar real quick – feeling a little funny” I say, trying to maintain the same tone as I would to tell someone the weather report – calm, even-keeled, and generally non-panic inducing.
“Oh sure,” he responds cheerfully, and we pause near the shoreline. I do the one-handed balancing act (also known as the “Standing Glucose Check Logistical Challenge” – I think Houdini himself invented that one…lots of slight-of-hand maneuvering) and manage to get a sample on the strip. 51. Shoot I think to myself (actually, “shoot” is not the word, or string of four letter words going through my mind, but this is a PG blog!) I mentally thank the heavens above for throwing that GU packet in my purse this morning, I know I have sugar at the ready.
“51, oops!” I tell him, hoping I still sound calm.
“Oh geez, you are low,” he says “You going to be ok?” he queries, his medical background making any further explanation unnecessary.
“Yep, totally, I have little snack here – don’t be jealous of my GU!” I joke, attempting to sound cute while my brain is telling me to rip open that packet and mainline the carbs.
“I always keep these with me – a lot of runners use them for training but they’re great for lows.” I offer. I start to eat and we start to walk again, heading towards a surf festival that was our intended destination. He’s totally unfazed by what just happened, and even though I’m still shaky from the hypo, my mind starts to relax knowing there’s 18 grams of CHO heading to my system right now, and in 15 minutes I’ll be ok. Later in the evening we’ll talk about pumps and CGMS. He’ll ask what my A1c is and we’ll discuss healthcare reform, pharmaceutical companies, and the use of fasting BGs as a diagnostic tool. We also talk about our families, our jobs, and a shared love of good coffee and road biking – and lots of other totally normal first date stuff. The low is long forgotton, and I spend the rest of the evening getting to know a very interesting person, just like any other 26-year-old single gal on a date would.
I can’t help but be self conscious about having diabetes sometimes. It interrupts my life at the most inconvenient times. I don’t like explaining what the plastic OmniPod on my back is to a guy I think is super cute, or having to pop a GU packet in the middle of getting to know someone. There’s an insecure voice in the back of my head that wonders if he’s thinking I’m a “sick person,” or that I might end up blind one day, or that maybe dating someone with diabetes is more trouble than it’s worth.
But that voice is quieted by the fact that I am my own best advocate. I am responsible for my health and my future, and my diabetes doesn’t define me and all I have to give to this world in life and love. And I remind myself that any guy interested in the real me won’t care about a plastic pod on my back or a low blood sugar – certainly no one has up to this point.
After that low blood sugar on the date, I dismissed those negative thoughts and thanked the universe that I have a manageable disease – two legs that let me take that walk on the beach with someone awesome, and a healthy mind to appreciate the new feelings. And I continued on just being me, diabetes and all – which was more than good enough.