Some general consensus on life as a type 1

I know that most of you post lots and lots about your experiences and you hear “I’m new to this” a lot, but as a 22 (almost 23) year old I want to know…
-if you couldn’t get a job you wanted
-if you were able to get health insurance (I’m a student)
-if pregnancy changed your health permanently
-if sex became uncomfortable/embarassing with pump
While I know that I will have more questions later, this is where I’m at now…thanks for taking the time to give me your input

Hi Victoria,

No worries. They are good questions.

I’ve never had any trouble with jobs. I don’t generally announce that I have diabetes when applying (and no one asks). Generally, it’s something that comes up once I’m already working there. Like, I’ll get a low blood sugar or need to push some buttons on my pump or CGM and I’ll mention it. It’s never really been an issue. All I ever hear is “Oh, I didn’t realize you had diabetes.” And I say “Yep. Type 1. Since I was 11.” and they say “Oh ok.” And that’s usually the end of it. Maybe a question or 2 about my insulin pump and whether I take shots or not, but that’s all I’ve ever heard.

Health insurance is not a problem at all if you are on a big group plan (like at a university or at a big company with a group plan) since those organizations don’t ask about pre-existing conditions. However, it’s a HUGE expense to buy an individual plan. Also, if you have any lapse in your coverage, then new plans are likely to make you wait a year before covering pre-existing conditions. So my advice for health insurance is to get covered (or stay covered) under your parents’ plan or your school’s plan as quickly as possible and then get a job with a company that has a group insurance plan as soon as you graduate so that you don’t have any lapse in coverage. There are some ways around this, but I think that’s generally the cheapest/easiest way to do the health insurance thing.

Never been pregnant, but I’ve heard of many people who had successful, uneventful pregnancies with diabetes. You just have to be extremely careful about keeping your blood sugar good while you are pregnant.

It hasn’t been an issue with sex for me. All of my partners knew me well enough to know a little about the pump before we got to that, which helps. Like, they knew that there is a tube attached to a little thing that stays on my body and that I can take it off for short periods of time (up to a couple hrs if I bolus first). I don’t know much about the Animas pump, but I’m guessing you can take it off pretty easily (with just the infusion site attached to your body), right? It should be easy enough to take your pump off when you’re taking your clothes off so that it doesn’t have to be attached to you the whole time. You really don’t have to wear it every second. If I ever take my pump off for more than an hour, I bolus a little first, but if it’s up to an hour, I just wait and bolus some when I put it back on (if necessary).

Let me know if you think of any more questions. Good luck!!

hello Victoria,

Carolyn said a lot of good things =) I wanted to add that for most jobs, direct medical questions at interview time are not common. I was asked the following: “Do you have any condition that you feel will impede you from working”?

However, if you had your heart set on being a commercial airline pilot I am very sorry. Jobs dealing with public safety usually involve a physical, and T1 can influence the outcome.

Diabetes has never stoped me from getting a job I wanted, but I do tend bias toward big companies for better benefits. I was able to get 3 life insurance policies - 1 before I was diagnosed, 1 from my last job which I converted when I was laid off, and the last from my current employer.

I can’t offer advice on the pregnancy thing :wink: but I did feel uncomfortable regarding sex, even with the small infusion system on my pump. It was “me”, not the little band-aid looking thing on my thigh. My wife, thankfully, has been a great help in me “getting over myself”. =)

Once I tried to get hired on with a nanny agency and diabetes seemed to be an issue for them. They did “hire” me, but I only got called for a job interview once and that family decided they weren’t moving to the area. The lady that interviewed me basically told me if I ever got sick on the job, I would be terminated. I probably should have said/done something about it, but the job didn’t have health insurance anyway, so I wasn’t looking to do it long term.
Health insurance = you can’t get it. Period. Unless you go in under a group plan. If you try to buy a policy for yourself (you can do this if there is no lapse in coverage) they charge you amounts that are more than you would pay without insurance anyway. I was blessed to get a job with the state government that has a wonderful health plan. My advice is to try for coverage under the school (they often have “group” plans) and/or get a job that offers good health insurance. Retail doesn’t have good plans typically. Government jobs, office jobs with big corporations, some health care type jobs, and factory jobs if the company is large seem to have the best coverage in my experience.
I can’t advise you on the pregnancy thing, since I don’t have any kids.
I love your list of questions. They are wonderful. Keep on asking.

Hi, Victoria. I’ll give you my answers - though the folks who have responded so far are right on the money.

I have been Type 1 since I was 10 years old. It has never kept me from being hired - like Carolyn said, it doesn’t usually come up in interviewing! My main career is as a professional singer and music teacher, but I’ve worked in retail management and as a waitress, too. I find that often it’s my reaction toward my diabetes that affects an employer’s attitude. If I call in and say “I’m recovering from a blood sugar and it’s got me a little behind this morning. Can you cover for me for an extra twenty minutes until I feel stable and can come on in?” then usually they feel communicated with and sympathetic. If, however, I wandered in late everyday and shrugged off the boss with “blood sugar thing - I can’t help it,” then there’s a problem. If you’re ever not hired for a job on the basis of diabetes (with the exception of the fields Joe mentioned), you have a legal leg to stand on.

Health insurance has been rough. I was able to stay on my parents’ plan until done with college, then through a policy change, until age 25. Then I paid through the nose for COBRA coverage (an extension of my parents’ plan) until age 28. My husband and I married five months before our planned wedding so I could get on his plan by that birthday! As a freelance singer, part-time church musician, and contractor with a school district, I’m ineligible for any coverage of my own and I have been turned down repeatedly for individual coverage.

Planning for pregnancy now. But I hope all will go well if I’m so lucky to get pregnant!

The last one was a quiet concern I was too afraid to ask my educator when I first thought about the pump, but I found a girl who could answer it for me. So don’t be afraid to ask this stuff. I can promise you that it has never been an issue with me in the 8 years I’ve pumped. Like others have said, intimacy is intimacy. If you know the person well, they are probably okay with who you are and why you pump. Some people disconnect and reconnect later - like you can for a shower. I generally leave mine on and toss it to the side, not thinking about it any more than I think about it through the rest of my day. If you accidentally knock it on the floor, rip out an infusion set, or get some type of alarm, you treat it like the other life things that can interrupt moments. You laugh, you fix the problem, and you go back to what your mind was on…

Insurance has been a huge problem for me. At least now I know what the legal options in Texas are, though I would not wish my 2 months of searching on anyone! In Texas, there are only 2 ways to get insurance as a Diabetic - group plan or the Texas High Risk Pool. NO ONE and I do mean NO ONE will insure a Diabetic on an individual policy. The Texas High Risk Pool takes about 45 days to process and you must have had prior coverage to get it it without a lot of hoop jumping. So please don’t move to Texas - save yourself the headaches!

Since I’m a late bloomer ( diag at 45), employment is not an issue. I work for a temp agency part time and they knew from the insurance problems what I’m up against. I wear my id bracelet all the time and do not hesitate to test or take my shots when needed. Since we usually have lunch in the same dining room, it has become just a part of life for the rest of the staff and myself. If I ever met someone that didn’t want to work with a Diabetic, I’d feel sorry for them.

I’m not pumping yet and I have to give my husband 2 thumbs up for his efforts. He has connected with some male pumpers at his job and is comfortable with the idea that I might eventually go on the pump. I think that any partner that truly cares about you will want to be proactive to learn what he can do to help you be more comfortable. When I first started my shots, I was embrassed by the bruises. My husband reminded me that I’m alive and bruises are just a temporary thing we deal with.

I hope you keep seeking answers. Every day is a step by step process.


Welcome Victoria.

I see the previous answers have been very complete in their explanations so I will briefly give you my own experience.

  1. Job: Yes, when I graduated from San Diego State I moved back to Orange County and tried to get a job with the OC Sheriff’s Department. They would hire me, but I had to be in much, much better shape than the average candidate. I worked hard for an entire summer, running, lifting weights, until I was where I needed to be. After their doctors cleared me, they came back and said I would need to submit to 6 months of close monitoring of my diabetes before they would let me into the academy. I basically said f#ck it and looked elsewhere at that point- I didn’t want to wait 6 months to get my life going. This turned out to be a great thing for me- I have a much, much better job I love, and in the years since I have come to realize that I don’t have the mindset, lifestyle, or even really the desire to be a police officer.

  2. Health insurance: I have always had group health insurance through an employer. As others have indicated, this is basically a requirement if you are a Type 1 in the United States unless you are fabulously wealthy.

  3. Pregnancy: No, I lost the sympathy weight I gained after our second child and worked hard for a year to get into what is probably now the best shape of my life. I realize you are probably more interested in “women’s issues” though in asking this question. :slight_smile:

  4. Sex: Like Carolyn said, the pump comes off easily and if you let your partner know about it ahead of time it won’t be a big deal. Then again, us guys don’t care if we get you naked and you have an infusion set in. After all, you’re naked! :slight_smile: I’ve never had my infusion set come out or had any other pump-related problem during sex except one minor thing: if the infusion set is placed in an area that is going to come into a lot of contact with your partner during sex, it can scratch them or make them uncomfortable depending on which type of infusion set you use. My sets (Silhouette) come with a little plastic plug thing you can insert when you disconnect the pump, which obviates this issue entirely in my experience. But I always throw that thing away because there is no good place to stow it.

These are great questions! I’m more than happy to share my own experiences with any other issue you might have or be wondering about. Good luck to you.

Interesting juxtaposition of numbers 2 and 4.

Yeah I’m going to agree with you there…there is no perfect system.

Can I ask you why you never wanted to become pregnant? I’m so nosy

Well, everyone else has answered all the questions except pregnancy wonderfully. I will take the pregnancy questions since I have 2 kids. During both of my pregnancies I was healthier than ever before. That is simply because I wanted healthy pregnancies more than anything and I took care of myself better than normal. This is not to say that serious complications can’t arise. When you have diabetes, that is always something that can happen whether pregnant or not and anything out of the ordinary (in this case pregnancy) can bring about new issues with your health. While pregnant, I checked my BG about 2 or 3 times as much as normal. My doctor wanted to keep my BG below 100 at all times, including 2 hours after every meal. I did my best not to gain more weight than I needed to. I only gained 17 pounds with my first and 16 with my second. I was different than most. I had more trouble with lows than highs while pregnant. Don’t know if it was my wierd body or if I was overdoing the insulin trying to keep my BG where I wanted it. Never had trouble with highs though. I say all this really to say that pregnancy is not an issue as long as you take really good care of yourself. It will be easier if you take care of yourself before, but especially during pregnancy. You should definitely have an A1C below 7.0 and it is better if it is below 6.5 before you even try to get pregnant and then keep it there or lower throughout the pregnancy. You have to work at keeping your BGs down a little harder while pregnant but trust me, the result is worth all the trouble!!! :slight_smile: Hope this helps. If you have any other questions that I didn’t answer, please feel free to ask.

Not by the government, no. I’m no defender of American coverage, but I will say that most states make pump coverage mandatory for insurance companies. In Texas, they were legally bound to cover me for a pump if prescribed. I had to submit proof of monitoring blood sugar, but otherwise, it has not been a problem. I guess there’s one tiny little blip that I can appreciate about this system I complain about constantly.

I think that Canada is moving toward eventual universal pump coverage though. They’ve already started with children, have they not? At least in some provinces? Perhaps there is hope for those who want to pump.

job - can’t say. I had a job when I was diagnosed and I still have it. It’s illegal to deny most jobs on the basis of having diabetes.
health insurance - see above. But I have been turned down for disability insurance.
pregnancy - I’m a male. My wife has been pregnant four times. It changes everything, diabetic or not.
sex - the pump has no affect if you’re with someone who cares about you. Can’t speak to casual acquaintances, though.

Oh, I wasn’t meaning to criticize anything. I just was surprised to learn that your insurance coverage does not pay for pumps, considering they have been covered by US insurance companies for many years.

I guess it is difficult for me to see them as a luxury item. I am not particularly happy with my country’s insurance situation, but if someone told me I’d have to give up pumping to get the sort of coverage Canadians have, I’d gladly put up with the present system.

Just to chime in here… I live in Hungary and I’m covered by the Hungarian national insurance. For my pump and all pump supplies, the government pays 85%, I pay 15%. The pump is a luxury in some senses-- so I think that it is fair to ask the patient to cover some of the costs (though it does mean that not everyone can afford the pump here either).

Insulin, doctors visits, blood tests, hospitalization are completely free.

The Canadian system has been slower to adopt the pump than many of the nationalized health care systems in Europe (where it has been available for years). I am not even in the most advanced national health care system and we have pump coverage. So there is diversity in national health care systems :slight_smile:

Rainbowgoddess-- I hope that the Canadian system will support the pump for all adults soon!!

It was not a criticism, it’s just the way it is. Thankfully , yes my current insurance that I get through my stepfather is because of his job for the government and my pump will cost me and my family $0. I’m one of the biggest advocates for universal healthcare, so don’t misconstrue my words…

-if you couldn’t get a job you wanted

Never been a problem.

-if you were able to get health insurance (I’m a student)

Not an issue where I live - it’s covered by the govt.

-if pregnancy changed your health permanently

Pregnancy changes everything! Particulary the after effects. It’s been 28 years, and I’m STILL get calls, “Mom, can we come over for dinner tonight?”!!! Does mental health count?

-if sex became uncomfortable/embarassing with pump

Sex is neither uncomfortable or embarassing with a pump. Sometimes I leave it on, and sometimes I disconnect. Sweetie has his mind on other things, and isn’t embarassed about my pump either. I think most sweeties are like that!

I see that most of the questions you asked have been really well covered! Great questions by the way.

I’ll add onto Holly’s pregnancy response.

I also have 2 kids. My daughter is now 13 and my son is 10. I went through the first pregnancy on syringes. I was checking my blood about 20 times a day and going to the ob and endo everyday Mon - Fri. (normally endo x1 a wk. and ob x4 a wk.) The second pregnancy I finally went on the pump. My endo had been trying to get me to switch over for years and after being SO low that I knew the EMS technicians by name I gave in. Holly is right on (and does NOT have a weird body!) I ran very low with both pregnancies. It makes total sense… the baby is taking more out of you than you realize! On another post I mentioned that the endo had asked another patient (with a young child) to show me how easy it was. I went to this woman’s home, she pulled down her pants, showed me how to put in the pump and that was it. I had all of the same fears you seem to have (will my husband still like me … and want to have sex … with some gadget attached to me?). My husband has been so supportive and always felt that if that little “thing” (the pump) was going to keep me healthier than it didn’t matter.

My pregnancy visits involved fetal heart monitoring twice a week, ultrasounds twice a week and the once a week with the endo was to review my insulin levels and blood results. We did change my insulin doses almost weekly as the babies were growing. But, long term health effects … none. Well, no, my boobs sag now! But that’s not what you were asking. I think being pregnant was the best thing that ever happened to me! (TWICE!) Once those little people came into the world it made me want to take even better care of myself so that I could live a LONG life and see them grow, become adults, then parents and YES! I plan to be a grandma one day : )

I’ve been T1 for 36 1/2 years. I did syringes for 26 years and have been on a pump for over 10 years now. (April '98). I’ll never go back to syringes.

There’s nothing you can’t do! (except commercial airline pilot… I think that is one job they do totally discourage us from - someone mentioned that above and I’m 99.9% positive he’s right!)

While we do get all the health basics covered in Canada, there are small differences depending on provincial or territorial jurisdictions on extras. The federal govt transfers health dollars to the provincial and territorial govts. There are health coverages that must be covered by these jurisdictions and then there are items, like a pump, where the province or territory has to decide on how much they want to cover. Where I live (Yukon Territory), the cost of the pump is covered by the my local government. In fact, all my pump supplies and diabetes supplies and meds are covered by the government, with a $250. deductible. There is very little that is not covered. In other provinces, there is complete, partial or no coverage for the cost of a pump, but folks often get extras covered by med insurance plans in those cases.

As an aside, our dental is covered in the Yukon from birth until you’re out of high school. Pretty handy, getting a good dental health start in life.

Medicare/Medicaid which is government insurance will cover insulin pumps, but you have to meet certain criteria if you are not T1.