Thursday 18 October 2012

Living Alone with Type 1 Diabetes

I have been asked to take part in a panel this weekend for the Kids 'n' Us Conference (link here).  There will be three of us on the panel and we will be speaking with teenage girls about various topics surrounding living with Type 1 diabetes.  Some of the topics include how to talk to a boyfriend about having diabetes, intimacy, how to tell a prospective employer you have diabetes, looking for jobs that have good health plans, drinking alcohol and living alone, to name a few.  They asked what topics I felt comfortable talking about and while I am comfortable talking about all of them, one that I can talk quite easily about is living alone with Type 1 diabetes.

I have lived alone for the last three years (not counting my two furry friends) and have never worried about being on my own. Things changed when I was diagnosed.  All of a sudden I had a reason to fear being alone, particularly at night.  I was scared of going low in the night and not having someone there to help me or wake me up if I was in trouble.  Pretty much anything negative about being on my own ran through my head.  I have always been a very independent, strong and somewhat stubborn (what? who said that?) women and all of a sudden I felt weak and overwhelmed.  My boyfriend stayed with me for the first little bit while I got used to my new routine.  I still remember the first night I spent alone, I was terrified.  Looking back I do laugh a bit at how paranoid I was.  I set my alarm for every two hours to check my sugars and to make sure all was right.  It was exhausting and I knew that I had to come up with a living alone plan.

Fast forward a year and I have the same routine each evening to ensure that I am safe.  My boyfriend does stay two or three times a week which always put me at ease, but I am well prepared for the evenings I spend alone.  For starters I make sure that I have a phone near me in case I needed to call 911 at anytime.  In my bedside drawer I keep juice boxes, glucose tabs and granola bars.  Each night before bed I check my blood sugar to assess whether I need to have a bedtime snack.  Due to my exercise regime I often find I am lower in the evening so often a banana before bed does the trick.  I no longer set an alarm to wake me in the night, however guaranteed I always wake up to pee at least once so I check then.  I find that having all of this in place makes me feel safe and means I am ready to treat a low at a hands reach during the night.  It has come in handy more than once!  I have only had one occurrence where I went low in the night and had nothing at hand to help.  It scared the bejeezus out of me.  I literally had to crawl downstairs sweating and close to blacking out.  I made it to the kitchen and downed juice and lay on the floor until my sugars came back into range.  Looking back I should have called someone but in that blurred state I was not thinking straight.  Since then I do my best to avoid that situation!

I hope that on Saturday speaking about my experiences of living alone will help reassure these young adults that they don't have to be frightened and can do it!  Just takes a bit more preparation.  I am looking forward to the conference and excited to be involved. I shall report back as to how it went.  I am sure I will learn a lot from these young ladies.


  1. Great post Jocelyn! Good luck and have fun on Saturday! You're such an inspiration!! :)

  2. You're going to do great at the conference!