I’m Still Sexy, and I Know it

Danielle Martin-Jensen

On August 15, 2016 I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes (T1D). In the preceding three weeks I had lost 24 pounds, become fatigued, developed blurry vision, and somehow more frighteningly than anything else... the skin on my palms was peeling as though from a sunburn.

At that time I was completely ignorant about diabetes. I didn’t know the difference between the two types, the causes, the relative genetic risks for each, or really anything else. I didn’t have the slightest idea how an insulin pump worked or what living with diabetes of any type meant. I didn’t really have any close relationships with anyone who had diabetes either, which partially explains that ignorance.

A short time later, research led me to the Dexcom website. I was filled with awe and joy that continuous glucose monitors even existed. I was thrilled with how far medical technology had come! And then a feeling of unease crept up my back and into my mind and I wondered: “If I wear this, will I still be sexy?”

You might judge that as shallow, but your desire to be desirable, to enjoy your body and intimacy with your partner, doesn’t just disappear because you know something may benefit you. You know the phrase “biological imperative,” don’t you?

I was worried that if I got a wearable medical device I might look in the mirror and see a reminder of illness and my body’s hardship from a few months before. I was concerned about seeing my reflection and only really seeing that device. I’ll admit too that I wondered if my husband would find me less attractive. So, I didn’t keep my feelings to myself.

I asked my husband point blank: “Will you still think I’m sexy if I get a Dexcom?”.

His reply was a firm and loving “yes.” I felt and continue to feel so incredibly lucky. He reassured me, too, that I would be able to incorporate any wearables I got, whether a Dexcom or a pump, into a positive body image. He actually knew some people with T1D in high school and so at least had some experience.

When I finally got my Dexcom in the mail I was overwhelmed. I unboxed it with my husband by my side and we marveled. It was so small but clearly so powerful. After putting it on I immediately forgot my previous hesitations. Instead, I got caught up in my feelings of reassurance from knowing my blood sugars throughout the day. I even took a look in the mirror and thought, “This is so cool!” As for my husband, he made a habit of lovingly planting a kiss right on my Dexcom after every good morning kiss.

It turns out that I can love my body when there are devices on it and that they really become an extension of me. It turns out that joking about being a cyborg feels good and empowers me. It turns out that being healthy and having the knowledge Dexcom provides is really sexy to me—to us. Don’t even get me started on my Omnipod. I show off my devices every chance I get and delight in educating others about them. I look in the mirror today and see myself as a whole person, and have no shame when I think, “Damn, my Dex looks good on my arm.”

I wish I had known ahead of time that adjusting to a CGM and later a pump would be so easy and short a process. My anticipatory anxiety was far worse than my actual experiences. Perhaps if I had known how much better I would feel (in every sense) with my devices I wouldn’t have insisted on waiting to get a pump as long as I did.

I acknowledge fully that my experiences were far easier than for some other people, who struggle with these ideas far more than I did. But if you’re struggling please know that you’re not alone and that if you approach wearables with an open mind you may find they don’t just enhance your health, but also your confidence. You are still sexy with diabetes and yes, with wearables.

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Danielle Martin-Jensen was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on August 15, 2016. That fall she entered her graduate school program at Kent State University on schedule and graduated with her MA in Translation in May 2018. Since then she has returned to her home state of California and is delighting in finding ways to become active with the local T1D community.

Photo credit: Saxen Martin-Jensen