I realize the (basic, non-scientific) problems that a diabetic could possibly have when joining the reserves: long days or weeks in the field with limited food and therefore a limited amount of blood sugar, running out of insulin on tours, possibly affected by side affects (seizures, loss of feeling in toes…not completely aware of what else but those are what I’ve been told and can remember). Problem with my boyfriend, which I probably could have mentioned but completely forgot about, is one of the main reasons he was depressed (as a direct result of having diabetes) was that he could not join the reserve forces here in Canada. This might not have been such a big deal for some, but his dad was a war hero: a Major in the military who had both of his legs blown of after a mine exploded under the vehicle he was driving in Bosnia, and his brother serves with the Calgary Highlanders as a Master Corporal (who is quickly advancing in rank). He was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes when he was eleven - up until that point it had been his one and only dream, goal, aspiration…whatever, to be in the army and serve Canada, just like his dad. He grew up on Military bases, conversed (as well as an eleven year old can) with high ranking men and was trying to learn the ropes of the CF - that is, until he found out he was a diabetic.
I always feel like talking to him about this is such a touchy thing, as if I’m breaching some kind of emotional wall that he’s intricately built around himself with sticks, that just one wrong word could destroy in an instant. Its the same emotion you’d get from someone who had always dreamed of being a pilot and then taking the test only to discover that he was colourblind. Mostly, I just listen, and he does the talking. Like many diabetes-related things, I’m kinda aware that I have no idea on what level he is experiencing these things on, but that I have to try and talk to him without seeming like its not that important to me, without trying to tell him what to do, without making it seem like its just pity thats keeping my ears open. To this point, I don’t really know how he feels when he answers my questions… or reanswers them, as is the case in most of his explanations of his doctors appointments, in which he explains to me each thing being done, no matter how many times I’ve already heard it (I’ve trouble retaining medical “jargon” (for lack of a better word)).
He went to France for three months to study, and his mom took me to the pharmacy and the doctor and such to pick up all of his diabetes paraphernalia. I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many different types of needles and monitors and God knows what else. I couldn’t even name a quarter of the things I had to pack in his bag, although him and his mom speak “diabetan” so fluently that I really wasn’t needed in the conversation (or rather checklist) at all. If we stay together long enough, I might be able to catch on to a few phrases and be able to understand (I can understand a few, and I always keep track of his blood kit, as normally he makes me carry it in my purse because he forgets it whenever he has to hold it). I realize that all diabetes is is a disease, and it really doesn’t characterize a person, and it doesn’t REALLY change the person, if not making them stronger, or in some (unhappy cases) much MUCH more mature than they probably should be (he went to a lot of diabetes camps and stuff, and he probably needs two hands to count how many of his friends have passed on or have been diagnosed with other diabetes related problems).
But just in generalization, what do you think are some appropriate ways to talk to him about this kinda stuff, without making him feel like “its-all-about-Caillie, because-Caillie-can’t-understand” or ways that I can maybe cheer him up (in a way that doesn’t make him feel like he NEEDED to be cheered up)? I saw on the Six Until Me blog that she had a “Umpteenth Year of Healthy Diabetes” cake to celebrate, but I dunno how comfortable he’d be if I tried doing something like that with him. Anything diabetes just makes him depressed (although I suppose it could be also a mixture of regular teen-angst, with a dose of clingy “I-want-to-make-you-happy” girlfriend syndorme?).
I’m not necassarily looking for answers, perhaps I’m just thinking outloud (or through type?), but anyone who managed to read through the above paragraphs (and is still reading) should probably comment just so I can send good vibes to you via technology to thank you for your caring and support, even though I myself don’t have diabetes.