Living Alone with Diabetes.
After college, I moved in with my then-boyfriend and we lived together for about five years. But when he and I broke up, I lived alone for a little over a year before Chris and I moved in together. (And by "alone," I mean with Abby the Cat and then Siah Sausage was introduced to the fray. But neither of them were able to handle a low blood sugar effectively, so they were useless, in a diabetes sense. ... except that whole "Abby sensing low blood sugars" thing ...)
Living alone was a big thing for me, because I was always fed the line "You are diabetic; you shouldn't live alone." And for a long time, I was scared to be by myself. But after spending those first few weeks alone in my brand new place, alone for the first time ever, I felt empowered. I know my mother worried - she called every morning - and my grandmother used to drop by "unannounced" (but she was checking to make sure I was in one piece), but I understood why they checked in on me. Lows were a constant and scary threat. It was a big adjustment, going from being under the constant care of my college roommates and then my boyfriend to being solely responsible for myself, but I liked it. I felt like it lifted me up, emotionally, and showed me that I can do anything, with or without the diabetes crap.
Abby (the Person) talked with a few of her PWD friends about living alone. Some are in their own apartments for the first time, some are adjusting to college, and some are getting ready for that first leap into living on their own. Here are a few perspectives on what it's like to live alone with diabetes:
I'm in my junior year in college now, so have been more or less on my own for about three years now. The transition did a number on my A1C because I really don't like being low. Although I know that high numbers can be just as dangerous that's definitely the side I air on because they're much less immediately debilitating - key word immediately. My precautionary tendency is to run high, flawed logic though it is. It's also been very important and helpful for me to be open about my diabetes and to create a support system for myself at school - I mention it to my professors at the beginning of every semester and have friends who I trust and who are interested. This way I have people in my daily life who more or less know what's happening when I talk about diabetes related things and who I can count on to help if need be.
I've been managing my diabetes on my own for 8eight years now and I'm so used to doing it on my own that I have a really hard time letting other people help. I even get nervous at the doctor's office because I would really like to do my own shots and don't trust other people giving them to me. Living on my own, I try to keep in touch with other diabetics because it keeps my mind thinking about the best things to be doing (like checking and bolusing), aka the basic things that sometimes are easy to forget in the college life. I also like to feel like I can complain to others who understand because that keeps me from getting super discouraged every time I'm low or high and just sick of diabetes in general. Keeping a sense of humor has really worked the best for me. But now, I have to say that I wish I didn't take so much control because right about now I wish I could go back to the 7 year old phase where someone else does it all for me, but as for now not taking it too seriously seems to be going pretty well.
There are definitely pros and cons of living on my own. On the one hand, it gets a little lonely, as my D-support team is rather far away (aka my family, aka my parents and camp-friends). Sometimes when I'm really low, I get scared that I'll pass out before I can grab the OJ from the fridge. But living on my own has given so much independence, and so much maturity. My mom no longer comes to my endocrinologist appointments with me, I'm responsible for communicating my questions and concerns. If my pump breaks, I'm the one on the phone to Minimed. Living on my own has made me grow up, like it does for most "aspiring adults". However, living on my own with diabetes has certainly put me on the fast-track.
Living alone is the best thing I have ever done for myself. However, right before I moved into my new apartment, I started having second thoughts. Cold feel. Butterflies. If I move into a new apartment on my own, who is going to take care of me if I have an emergency? What if I have an extremely low blood sugar and need help, but no one knows it because I live on my own? What if something horrible happens to me while I live here as a single, young lady who just happens to have type 1 diabetes? ... So far, so good. It has only been 3 months now, but I've grown so much from this time on my own both personally, spiritually and emotionally. Also, when it comes to my diabetes, control has only become tighter. Not only do I not need to worry about what my roommate is going to say when she gets home, but I've also found that I have more peace of mind if my blood sugars stay within the range of 90-130-which in the end lead to a 1/2 point drop in my A1C. So, living alone is pretty great. Are there demons I had to overcome? Definitely. Do I still worry sometimes? For sure, but I have made friends in my complex who know about my diabetes. I live across the street from a friend from diabetes camp who would be here in 2 seconds flat if I needed her. I am proud to say that I'm doing alright and I recommend living alone to every person at some point in their life. It will change you for the better.
I technically don't live on my own; I have a roommate. Except that she is clueless about diabetes, even though her own mother also has T2. Her mother has tried to ignore it for many years though, so I can understand that. I have to say that when I first realized my roommate was clueless, and after my dia-buddy left again, is when I started my blog. It helps to write, and then notice what is going on in my diabetes life. I have my glucagon next to my tabs and juice boxes next to my bed. And I talk to my mother every morning before work (I'm the one to call her). I try to test before I go to bed and when I wake up. That way I am at least safe during my unconscious hours. I've been testing more regularly, but whether that's because of living alone or just growing up, I'm not sure. I also have everything organized so that if anyone needs to come in and help me, they can easily find it.
The first time I moved out into a dorm room for college, I didn’t really consider diabetes an issue, but more a part of my life that needed to be packed up and brought with me. I bought a tall plastic drawer thing (that most college kids buy) and filled two of the drawers with diabetes supplies. I also made sure that I had my own mini-fridge to ensure that people knew the stuff inside was off limits. My roommate was totally cool with it, and we just stayed away from each other’s refrigerators. People often came in and took my snacks (crackers and such), but they also hung out in my room and were my friends, so I kind of took it as a loss (and borrowed things from them without guilt). When I finally got my own house in college and was off the meal plan, I made it a point to try to cook healthy and make sure my house-mates knew I had diabetes and that some of the stuff was simply to be thought of as my medicine, and not as food. I’m nervous to ever live completely by myself, but I’m sure I’ll come up with some sort of system to make sure I’m safe, and that I can keep my health a priority. It’s also a wonderful conversation starter when people see Arthur or Sesame Street juice boxes in a 20-something female’s kitchen.
Thanks for sharing your perspectives, you guys!
Are you a PWD who has some insight on living alone, or making the choice to avoid living alone? Are you a parent who is nervous about their kid going out on their own? If you have insight to offer, please do! :)