The Boyfriend/Girlfriend Guide to Caring for Someone with Type 1
Editor’s Note: This content is a part of Beyond Type 1’s guidebook, which includes guides for everyone who has a type 1 in their life. Check out the rest of our customized guides for the different people in your life here!
Congratulations! You’re dating someone amazing, funny, beautiful and strong, who also has type 1. If you are feeling overwhelmed or worried, there is no need. Here are tips that can help you take care of your significant other and the essentials in diabetes care that are a must-know!
Our bodies do not make insulin. We need insulin to process food that we are eating. Therefore, we can use either the pump or injections via a pen and a needle to administer the insulin.
Learn more about insulin delivery methods.
The monitors that are attached to our skin are not a smoking patch, a pager, or a prop! These monitors help us stay healthy.
- One of these monitors is a CGM, or continuous glucose monitor. This small device tracks our blood glucose day and night, and notifies us of highs and lows.
- The other monitor is an insulin pump. An insulin pump gives our body insulin throughout the day and during meals through the flexible plastic tube.
And we aren’t talking about exes! We will usually always carry a few items with us wherever we go. These things help us get through the day healthy and safe. Here are a few things you can familiarize yourself with.
- Blood glucose meter, test strips and a lancing device. In other words, the small device that shows us what our blood sugar is, the test strip that goes into the device, and the pricker that we use on our finger to get a drop of blood onto the test strip. Check out The Daily-diabetes Care Kit.
- Fast-acting sugar that we will take in case we have a low. This could be anything from glucose tablets (which strongly resemble SweetTarts), candy, or juice boxes.
- Depending on the type of bionic pancreas that we have, we either carry pens and pen needles, or supplies for a pump.
We might have to check our blood sugars or give ourselves a shot of insulin. Don’t freak out!
What we eat
If we don’t want ice cream after dinner, don’t assume we aren’t fun. We just want to avoid a huge spike in our blood sugar! Spikes are times when our blood sugar rises rapidly due to certain circumstances. On the other hand, we can and will eat sugary foods! We just need to take a dose of insulin beforehand.
Read about The 5 Most Common Party Foods and What it Means for Blood Sugar Management.
What we feel
Be aware that our mood might be based on blood sugar levels, high or low. We may be very stubborn or crabby, or we may just need a juice box.
Here are the symptoms of highs (hyperglycemia) and lows (hypoglycemia):
- High symptoms: nausea, deep sighing breaths, confusion, flushed and warm skin, drowsiness
- Low symptoms: shaky, pale and sweaty skin, headache, hunger, weakness, trembling
If you recognize signs of a low or a high, the first thing to do is ask the person if they need your help in any way. Most type 1s know how to treat these circumstances and will do what they usually do to correct them.
Devices on or off, we can have a “roll in the hay.” As with any physical exercise though, we have to keep an eye on blood sugar levels and make sure we don’t drop too low. (That can be easily remedied with a high-sugar snack.) Candy and intercourse? Not a bad combo…
Read more on Sex and type 1 Diabetes.
Booze & Other
When alcohol is involved, it is extremely important to keep an extra eye on the symptoms of a low. Alcohol is one of the factors that can cause blood sugar levels to be more sporadic.
Check out our Booze Guide for how type 1s navigate drinking alcohol safely. Read Marijuana and Type 1 Diabetes.
If we are ever passed out or unconscious, immediately call emergency services and react to the situation as if we were “having a low” or experiencing severe hypoglycemia. If we are unconscious, you may have to administer emergency glucagon either through a nasal spray or injection. If we are conscious, fast-acting glucose needs to be taken immediately. This means juice boxes, candy, glucose tablets, or any other sugary food or drink that can be consumed easily.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions to have a better understanding of type 1. Just please, do not ask us 20 questions or give your own medical critique. We know what we are doing! Be proud of how strong and amazing your significant other is, and support them in any way that you can. And if you’re reading this, you already are.
Check out Beyond Type 1 Ambassador Michelle Lord’s Q & A with her main squeeze:
See the rest of our customized guides here.