There are a lot of people who could be my diabetes hero. Banting, of course for obvious reasons. Dr. Henry John and his wife Betty who founded the diabetes camp I attended as a kid that had such a huge impact on my life. Or my camp director, Rich Humphries, from Camp HMK who has inspired so many kids with Type 1 over the years.
But, this time I chose to write about my own Type 3, my amazing husband Ben!
I seriously have the most supportive D-spouse on the planet. I know not everyone is this lucky, and I feel grateful every single day about how incredibly supportive he is when it comes to everything in our lives, but especially about his support for all things diabetes.
My freshman year in college I overheard the conversation of two guys ahead of me in line at the dining hall. One guy was talking about a cute girl he met and wanted to ask out, and the other guy said "Oh, yeah, but she had cancer. You don't want to get involved with that," and the other guy agreed with him! I think this was the first time I realized that having diabetes might have a bearing on who I dated and who I ended up marrying.
Another time in college, I was dating this other guy pretty seriously. He told me about a conversation he had with his mom about us in which his mom made the remark, "Why did you have to fall in love with someone who's sick?" And, instead of defending me to his mom, he didn't say anything and (I believe, tacitly) agreed with her. To him and his mom my "sickness" was a nuisance that had to be overcome or worked around. Needless to say, that relationship did not last much longer.
I met Ben when I was finishing up graduate school. And, while he was a little freaked out by needles and stuff at first (he has a teensy weensy phobia of hospitals), he has never ONCE made me feel inferior or less than, or somehow broken because I have diabetes. Quite the opposite, actually.
Since the first few weeks of our marriage he has told me "this is OUR diabetes now." That honestly freaked me out a little bit at first. I have been so used to dealing with diabetes on my own, and have fiercely fought for my independence when it comes to taking care of myself. I didn't fully realize right away what he meant by it being "our diabetes." It didn't mean he was taking control of my body or my decisions, it just meant that now I didn't have to struggle alone, that I no longer had to carry the burden of this disease by myself. And there have been SO many times since then when he has helped me carry this load!
Ben has told me that he knows that he will never be able to fully understand how I'm feeling or what I have to go through because I have diabetes. He knows that it will never be "our diabetes" in that sense. But, he wants it to be "our diabetes" in the sense that he wants to help take care of what he can. That kind of thinking often translates into him being so willing to help with anything diabetes related that he can. For example, when I'm low in the middle of the night he'll get up with me and sit with me while I drink juice or eat glucose because he doesn't think I should have to do that alone. That is amazing! I can't tell you how much it means to me that someone sits with me while I'm shaking and sweating and freezing from a bad nighttime low. Those are so not fun on your own! He never, ever complains when my CGM goes off a bazillion times while we're sleeping, or when he finds a test strip in a random place (like his lunch pale). When my pump site needs to be changed, a lot of times he'll gather all my supplies for me, just because he knows how much of a nuisance it can be fore me to stop whatever I'm doing to change my insulin pump. He picks up prescriptions for me all the time on his way home from work, and has even argued with the pharmacist for me when they leave my insulin out of the fridge! And, he's outraged on a regular basis for me at what I have to put up with from insurance companies and blood-sucking pharmaceutical companies! He's 100% on my side!
And then there are all the things he does that aren't easily seen or even thought about by him or me. I'm sure when he was a kid, imagining what his future wife or future life would be like, he never imagined that it would involve diabetes and all that comes with it. I know he's sacrificed a "normal" life to be with me. I know that he will never experience a marriage without the complications that a chronic illness add to a relationship. And that really is the best part of why Ben is my hero: He doesn't feel like he has sacrificed anything! He loves me, and diabetes is a part of me. He doesn't love me despite the fact that I have diabetes. He loves me, all of me, and that makes him my hero!