Samantha & Ryan Talk Getting Married with T1D

12/10/18
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Transcript Below

Samantha: Hey everyone. So, my name is Samantha Willner.

Ryan: I’m Ryan Campbell.

Samantha: We are both on the Global Ambassador Council for Beyond Type 1. As you may or may not know, we recently got married about two weeks ago. We get a ton of questions through Beyond Type 1 and also on our social media accounts from people who are really interested in what it’s like to be in a relationship where you both have Type 1 diabetes. So, we thought that we would answer some of those questions that we get most frequently today. So, I think what people ask us number one, instantly, all the time is how did we meet.

Ryan: Which is a pretty typical question for anybody.

Samantha: Yep. It’s a typical question, and I think people hope that the answer is this beautiful, like we were both volunteering at a JDRF walk or Beyond Type 1 –

Ryan: Taking our blood sugar.

Samantha: Yeah, we were in a coffee shop testing our blood sugars, but what’s the real answer?

Ryan: We both swiped right on Tinder. On our first date, we talked about diabetes. That’s all we talked about.

Samantha: The whole time.

Ryan: We didn’t even ask, ‘What’s your favorite color?’ I remember we each had a Diet Coke. I thought that was just very memorable.

Samantha: I remember showing you my Dexcom and you had never seen one before. You had no idea. He had no idea what a CGM was and was blown away. I remember telling him, ‘If I don’t see you again, you should totally get this. If this doesn’t work again, just Type 1 to Type 1, you should totally get on the CGM because it’s the best technology ever.’ Yeah, so the next question I would say is what are the best and worst parts about dating or being in a relationship with another person with T1D. So, I don’t know. What are your thoughts on that?

Ryan: So, I’ll start with the worst. I wouldn’t say it’s the worst. I’d say I have a heightened awareness of both my health and Samantha’s health. I think you get like that if you’re in a relationship, so that’s normal, but when you have somebody who has type one diabetes, obviously the game is different. So, I think what is the beautiful silver lining of that all is that people are always like, in a great relationship, will finish each other’s sentences and that’s a cliché saying, but I feel like I’ll surprise you with Starburst in your purse.

Samantha: Or a juice box.

Ryan: Or a juice box. I think it’s funny because it’s been the same way. I’m a guy. I don’t carry a purse around. I don’t carry much around with myself, so I have to depend on either going to a convenience store if I get low in the city or Samantha’s purse. I’m like, ‘Did you bring your low stuff? So, that’s to me the little things that I guess is part of the worst, and best as well. I think that having somebody that is in it with you is the best part.

Samantha: Yeah, yeah, definitely. I feel like there are so many little moments that are awesome, yeah, big and little moments that you wouldn’t think of, like if I forget my meter or run out of insulin, it’s like everything’s doubled. So, that’s pretty cool.

Samantha: Also, when we first started dating, not having to have that awkward conversation of, ‘Oh hey, I have this condition. Here’s what it means…’ And trying to balance how much you show of T1D to the person that you’re dating, because you don’t want to scare them and make them feel like they have to be on edge all the time, but just for us to instinctively know, and I feel like we’ve gotten really good at picking up on each other’s symptoms, too. So, knowing when the other is dropping and picking up on just little things and waking up in the middle of the night to treat a low.

Ryan: I bolus you while you’re sleeping, so that’s –

Samantha: Yeah, oh my god. You’re basically my artificial pancreas. It’s so true. So, sometimes Ryan, if he gets up or hears –

Ryan: Which I often do.

Samantha: Yeah, he’s a night owl, so if he hears my Dexcom going off and I’m sleeping through it, which I will sleep through a high alarm a lot, but usually not lows, but the highs, it’s annoying because you’re high all night, you wake up high, and it’s the worst way to start your day. Ryan will correct me in my sleep.

Ryan: It’s almost on a technicality that I’m high as well because if my blood sugar is fine and she’s getting all the alarms, I know what the alarms are notifying you, so I’m like, ‘Oh, I know somebody’s high. Okay, let’s correct it.’

Samantha: But then on the flip side, I feel like that probably has to be the worst part about dating someone, being with someone who has type one because even if your blood sugars are completely normal and you’re good, your partner’s sugars could be off, and then when you’re both off, there’s just very little time for sleep when you both have Type 1. The last question that we’ve been getting a lot recently is about our wedding day.

Ryan: Which just happened at the end of August.

Samantha: Yep, August 31st.

Ryan: ’18.

Samantha: Yeah. People want to know how we individually and collectively prepared not only because there’s definitely special wedding day considerations with a type one, but also because we had quite a few type one attendees.

Ryan: We had five total, including us.

Samantha: Yep, we had five total. Two of them were in our wedding party. My T1D pen pal, Lila –

Ryan: Through snail mail.

Samantha: … who I met through Beyond Type 1 snail mail, was one of my bridesmaids, and then my T1D BFF from my JDRF days, Andrea –

Ryan: Was it Diabesties?

Samantha: Diabestie, yeah. She was also one of my bridesmaids, so we had a lot of people there and there was definitely some special efforts that went into that.

Ryan: I specifically wanted a photo with a photographer having everybody that had Type 1 to hold up their, whether it was their insulin pump or Dexcom or phone to show your number at that time. So, we’ll have a photo of that coming soon.

Samantha: Yeah. That was definitely special.

Ryan: It’s a preparation.

Samantha: Yeah. I mean, let’s talk about that. We obviously got ready separately. So, I actually don’t know what you did, if anything, that was special.

Ryan: So, the overview is that I rode 220 the whole day actually.

Samantha: Same, same.

Ryan: I think a lot of that has to do, which I’ve talked to other people, not about wedding days but just you’re in a stressful situation, good or bad, and obviously it was the greatest day of our lives so every time I bolused, I’d go down a tiny bit and I’d stay, and back up.

Ryan: Now, again, me being afraid of lows or not liking lows, I was okay with it. I also wasn’t eating a ton of cake, and then Lila, who is in California, has two sisters. My joke to everybody else was, ‘We’re going to dance.’ That was my cure for the day. I’m going to dance –

Samantha: Dance the high away.

Ryan: Just get my high away. Yep, that was how I got rid of my high.

Samantha: We did a lot of dancing.

Ryan: It came down, oddly enough. If you can’t find a cure, that’s my current cure.

Samantha: Yeah. I was also 250 the entire day, woke up 250, didn’t eat anything. I was so nervous and stressed out that I didn’t eat anything until after the ceremony, which was at 6:00 p.m., so I went almost the whole day riding on just coffee and could not get below 250. I didn’t want to drop, so I was trying not to pump myself full of insulin, but it was definitely an adrenaline high. I don’t know –

Ryan: I will say, too… Sorry to interrupt you.

Samantha: No, go ahead.

Ryan: The two parts that I thoroughly enjoyed as far as not so much preparation, we had a wedding coordinator who at one point, he had the orange juice in his back pocket while we were getting married.

Samantha: Oh, during our ceremony.

Ryan: So, that was part of preparation. The other part was that, not in a bad way, I’m not saying as an out, we would stop things if they were that bad. I think that’s with any situation.

Samantha: Yes.

Ryan: If anybody that we knew was going low during the ceremony especially, we would say, ‘Hold on, we need to address this.’ I had no hesitation if you were doing that, if that happened to myself or you or anyone in the bridal part of the wedding.

Samantha: Yeah. I definitely think we had contingency plans in place.

Ryan: Yes, I think that was the preparation.

Samantha: We also had… I’m trying to think. So, we had Glucagon kits on hand. We had –

Ryan: Tell them about your diabetes preparation.

Samantha: Oh, okay. So, in my bridal suite, because we were going to have three type ones in the same room getting ready for the wedding, I made this little, and decorated what I called the BD’s Box.

Ryan: I was jealous. I was jealous of it.

Samantha: It had the best low stuff. We had Ferrero Rocher chocolates, but also Pixie Stix and Smarties –

Ryan: Starburst.

Samantha: … and Starburst.

Ryan: You had two Glucagon kits.

Samantha: Two Glucagon kits, some extra omni pods, and Lantus and NovoLog in case anyone’s pods failed –

Ryan: Which it did happen.

Samantha: … which, I will say, yeah, came in super handy because one of my bridesmaids had an issue with her pump and had to go back on shots for the night. So, thank god I had a pen –

Ryan: Preparation was good.

Samantha: I had a pen cap and I had a NovoLog pen and we were going to –

Ryan: We solved this issue in about three minutes.

Samantha: Yes. We were good to go. I was like, ‘Yes, this is why I did this.’ Other than that, I mean, diabetes was secondary. It really was. It didn’t take priority during that day and I feel like everyone is entitled to a few days out of the year when diabetes doesn’t matter or they act like they don’t have it. That’s kind of how I felt. We took the necessary precautions so we could forget about it and focus on our special day.

Ryan: Yeah, I think that’s very important, not just your wedding day, but any day, that you prepare and you can handle it. I enjoyed it more. I think having the friends and family, not just friends and family, but then the parents of everyone who had type one, I think Zoe’s parents and Lila, that it was nice to have a common bond that we all have. Diabetes doesn’t just affect the person that has it. It’s all the people around and it was great to share that with everybody. I think that was

Samantha: Agreed. Well, if you guys have more questions –

Ryan: Please submit, send.

Samantha: Submit, send. You can follow us @samanthawillner and @rpc … Wait, what’s yours? I don’t even remember.

Ryan: My handle? @rcamstreetphoto

Samantha: rcamstreetphoto.

Ryan: On Instagram.



Samantha Willner was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in 1991 when she was just one year old. Currently based out of Philadelphia with her T1D husband, Ryan Campbell, Samantha is passionate about being a role model and inspiration for Type 1 children and teens. You can follow her on Instagram @samanthawillner.

Ryan Campbell is an artist, photographer, and video director based in Philadelphia, and the founder of DiabeticFeature.com. He was diagnosed with T1D in 1989 at the age of 3. He lives by the mantra, “ripples make waves.” To ride the waves along with him, check him out on Instagram @rcamstreetphoto.