How My Friend Helped Me Through My Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis

I was running late when my friend stopped me outside the library a few days into the new term. I knew him through lectures and classes together, but we hadn’t spoken during the holidays. After the exchanging the usual pleasantries, the standard question came up.

“So did you have a good Christmas? Get anything nice?”

Oh you know. The usual. Saw my family. Ignored my coursework. Got diagnosed with type 1 diabetes.

A month after my diagnosis and this was the first person I’d told about it, after my immediate family and my boyfriend. I was apprehensive about talking to people about it but some unknown feeling prompted me that it was the right thing to do. I found myself sharing the story of spending the run up to Christmas Day in and out of the hospital, loaded up with needles, insulin, glucose testing equipment and tips on how to control my obscenely high sugar levels over the holiday period.

Five months later, his reaction remains the best that I have ever received in response to that story. Not only was he understanding and willing to listen to me, but he talked to me about his sister who had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes years ago. He also shared with me all the practical tips that his family had picked up over the years, and even put me in contact with said sister who was more than willing to answer the dozens of seemingly insignificant questions that constantly occurred to me as a new diabetic. She was the first person with diabetes that I had talked to since my diagnosis, and it was a great relief to have someone close to my age to talk to about everything that was going on.

Receiving such a positive reaction to my revelation made me much more relaxed about talking about my diagnosis with my various other friends, making sure that the people around me were aware of what they need to do in an emergency, and generally being open about why I really don’t want an entire takeaway pizza to myself.

There have been those who have reacted in a more negative way – from the stranger who whispered a furious tirade at me for disturbing her by eating in the library, despite my protestations that I didn’t have a choice, to the housemate who continues to move my insulin around in the fridge so I can never find it. But, I find it easier to shake these off when I’ve seen how understanding my friends can be.

In the end, I ended up talking to that friend outside the library for over an hour and completely missed the society event I was heading for. I don’t regret it. The encouragement and the confidence that one conversation has given me the ability to be open about my diabetes, and it is an experience that I wouldn’t change for anything.

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