Ironic: Life With Type 1 Diabetes Comes Full Circle

I can’t get the song “Ironic” by Alanis Morissette out of my head. It started with Jimmy Fallon and Justin Timberlake’s recently aired Saturday Night Live skit of “Camp Winnipesaukee, 1996,” which included their rendition of the song. If you haven’t seen it, watch it right now. They are hysterical and you can tell they’re having a great time. In 1996, I was 25 years old and still healing from a break up. Some of the song’s lyrics, for those of you who don’t know, go like this:

A traffic jam when you’re already late
A no-smoking sign on your cigarette break
It’s like ten thousand spoons when all you need is a knife
It’s meeting the man of my dreams
And then meeting his beautiful wife
And isn’t it ironic, don’t you think
A little too ironic, and yeah I really do think…

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The Timberlake/Fallon skit ran last month, and the following week I got a Facebook message from the same boyfriend who broke my heart all those years ago. He sent me the note because his oldest daughter was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and he wanted my advice. I couldn’t help thinking of the irony. Let me explain a little further.

This ex-boyfriend was someone who saw me at my most vulnerable. When we dated, I was a few years out of college and trying to figure out what to do with my life. I was living on my own for the first time in a small apartment at the beach and was eating well, exercising, and working to bring my blood sugars down. I was a patient of an endocrinologist who’d participated in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial and who told me that I wouldn’t have to worry about complications as long as I kept my HbA1c tightly controlled.

I wanted to believe him. I’d been terrified of complications for years and worked to keep my blood sugars tight, tighter than ever before. And then I fell in love with this amazing guy who wrapped his arms around me and made me feel safe when my blood sugars dropped. I couldn’t believe it. The thing that I hated most about myself did not scare him away. It felt too good to be true. But my blood sugars kept dropping and my boyfriend had to keep coming to my rescue, and he began to pull away from me. That was 23 years ago and now his daughter has Type 1 diabetes. Isn’t it ironic?

I don’t know what it’s like to parent a child with diabetes, but I do know what it’s like to live with diabetes. So I told my ex-boyfriend that my best advice is to teach his daughter that diabetes will not hold her back. I told him to make sure she understands that she can do anything her friends are doing, she just has to be smart. I told him I would be happy to help in any way, and I meant it. I never imagined our paths would cross again, especially in this way, but I’m glad he’s asked for my help. It just feels so ironic.

The American Diabetes Association has released new physical activity guidelines. Bookmark DiabetesSelfManagement.com and tune in tomorrow to learn about them from nurse David Spero.