In the Swim
From the day we met, I knew my future husband, David, was different from any man I had dated before. I was almost sure this good-looking guy would view me somehow as damaged goods when I told him I had type 1 diabetes. In fact, he told me that I was beautiful and that it did not matter to him at all that I had diabetes. We had a great first date, and I just knew this would be a healthy relationship.
What I did not know was that David researched type 1 diabetes after that date: how to treat a low or high, how to count carbs, and more. He even taught me a few things I didn’t know. He was the one who encouraged me to take the leap into pump life, and I am so glad he did.
We’ve been on this diabetes journey for seven years now, experiencing many high points and a few lows. Through it all David has been a rock and a great encourager. He plans our outings, making sure that I’ll have access to something diabetes-friendly to eat. He taste tests my restaurant beverages to double-check that they are diet.
Like a lot of type 1s, I have a fear of lows. Two summers ago, David took me to Hawaii for vacation. We were having a great time, but there was just one thing we hadn’t done. I wanted so badly to snorkel in the ocean and see a sea turtle in its natural habitat. I wasn’t sure how ocean swimming would affect me. Would I go high from being disconnected from my pump? Would I go low from exerting so much energy? I was worried and concluded that it just was not going to happen on this trip.
I should have known better than to give into my fear. David devised a plan to make my dream a reality. Out we went into the ocean, with David in front and me in tow, clutching the bright green boogie board and conserving my energy. We made it to the end of the reef, several hundred feet from shore, and floated in the clear blue water, watching and waiting.
I was in awe viewing all the colorful fish and coral I had only seen before at the aquarium. “Look, right over there,” David suddenly said, muffled through his snorkel, “a turtle.” There it was right in front of me, a giant green sea turtle. It was glorious, and so close. Then, as if we were on a turtle highway, more and more sea turtles passed by, along with other fish and even a giant manta ray.
Soon it was time to head back. David lovingly pulled me to the comfort of the shore, where my pump was waiting to be connected. I tested; it was a good number. And it was a day I will never forget, a huge boost to my confidence.
David’s love, encouragement, and support have significantly improved my health, both physical and mental. Before, I was a woman who struggled with feeling defined by diabetes, who felt held back by this disease. Today, I’m enjoying life and conquering fears. Now I am Katie, happy, fun, loving, outgoing—and I just happen to have diabetes, too.
Katie Nyhoff lives in Lakewood, Calif. She is an information technology generalist.
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