Relationships with type-1 diabetes can be challenging for many couples. But for Rob Barry and Laura Gee it’s actually considered a benefit.
That’s because they both have type-1 diabetes.
In this month’s episode of Diabetic to Dietetics Rob Barry and Laura Gee discuss what it’s like to have two people with T1D in a relationship. They also share their committed involvement with diabetes research and diabetes advocacy. For additional information, read the article below the podcast link.
Benefits of two-person T1D relationship
Many other relationships with type-1 diabetes usually feature one partner with the condition, not both.
And that can be a challenge.
It can be a challenge navigating the moods of blood sugar swings, or understanding the importance of nutrition, or even just having diabetes there all the time. The partner without type-1 diabetes cannot fully grasp this disease no matter how exposed they’ve been to it.
But a relationship that has two people with type-1 diabetes, this couple says, has actually been a benefit.
“It makes some things like meal preparation fairly straightforward; it’s just whatever one of us eats times two,” says Rob. “Ordering diabetic supplies is actually pretty easy to do too because basically our prescriptions are identical.”
For Laura, the support of a duo-diabetes relationship is second to none.
“We both understand how food affects us, and how activity affects us, and we also appreciate the fact that life affects us,” she says. “Knowing and understanding what we’re both going through makes the things we do very easy.”
The start of the duo-diabetes relationship
Interestingly though, Rob and Laura’s relationship started as a single-person diabetes relationship.
Rob did not come into it with type-1 diabetes. In fact, he knew very little about T1D prior to Laura.
But after their first date, “I remember going home and Googling type-1 diabetes to try to learn more about it,” he said.
Over the next two years, his interest and knowledge in diabetes grew. He would randomly check his blood sugars with Laura’s meter, and because he has a science background, he often read articles and research papers about T1D as well.
“I remember reading an article when I turned 29 saying that the vast majority of diagnoses are in people less than 29,” Rob recalls. “I remember distinctly thinking, phew, I guess I’m probably out of the clear on that one.”
The fates were not so kind.
Two months later, Rob was diagnosed with type-1 diabetes.
Laura diagnoses Rob
But it wasn’t a doctor who first diagnosed him, it was Rob who diagnosed himself, largely at the prompting of Laura.
Laura was first to recognize the signs of T1D in her partner – increased thirst, frequent urination, significant mood swings.
She suggested he check his blood sugars.
They were 18 mmol/L (324 mg/dl).
“If I wasn’t dating Laura and knowledgeable with what she described” as symptoms of T1D, “I might have withered away with a crazy C-peptide measurement,” says Rob. “But that wasn’t the case. I mean, I knew all the symptoms thanks probably entirely to me hanging around her.”
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