The Book of Love* Never Had A Chapter for This

*Monotones, 1958.

Note: This article was written for where it originally appeared on June 16th, 2017. 

Dating is hard enough without the extra baggage of a chronic or autoimmune condition. Since long-term relationships have always seemed beyond me, I’ve had my fair share of dating experience. It starts out the same way as everybody else. You get ready, distracted enough to keep your nervousness at bay. Checking blood sugars every few minutes to make sure the stress isn’t making them go haywire.

Wait. That’s not like everyone else? OK. Well, you just want to make sure they don’t go too high or too low while you are trying to get to know your date. Oh, don’t forget to take a look at the menu of wherever you’re going before you leave. You need to know what you can have if diet is a concern, and how much medication you will need to cover it. If you can do the estimation beforehand, you might be able to dose yourself without your date noticing. You keep your fingers crossed that you guessed right. You can always excuse yourself to take a blood sugar in the restroom, but you only want to do that once. Any more might seem a little weird. One more finger stick before you get out of the car.

Then you get there, that knot in your stomach eases, and you have a good time. Hopefully more than good.

Next round. You want to see them again. When do you tell them what you’ve got? How much do you tell them? How do you drop it casually, offhandedly? Because whenever you decide to tell – it’s such a pain to go to the restroom every time you need to check a blood sugar – it’s way too early to tell them how serious it really is, about how there will be times when your symptoms will keep you from seeing them. You might want the company, but you don’t want them to see you like that. Or that you have more doctors than any five of your colleagues put together.

You’ve gone out a few times and now you want to take them home. Using protection should be a given – the pill and condoms. Our immune systems hate us. We can’t afford to make mistakes. Ever. Does anyone really want to risk chronic or autoimmune symptoms imploding over a $1.50 condom, do you?

I also have the special challenge of being permanently attached to an insulin pump. I’ve found that guys don’t really care, but I am self-conscious about it. And where do you put it? I still don’t have a good answer for that, although attempting to find a good answer can lead to a certain kind of funny.

But the funniest part? It's all self-imposed. While I work myself up looking for the Book of Love, no guy I have ever dated blinked twice at my "big reveals." And yet, I do it every time. Just like every girl on the planet, but with that extra chapter.