My daughter, Alissa, was eleven years old when she was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. We went through the usual struggle to adapt to living with the daily routine of being a diabetic.
Although she managed marvelously with all the changes that we had to cope with, she struggled most with being “different” from her friends at school.
This meant that she had to:-
- Eat Regular Snacks - it didn’t matter whether she was hungry, or what she was doing, she had to stop for a snack.
- Gave Daily Insulin Injections - having to “sneak” off to the medical room for injections singled her out for attention by her classmates. She was desperate to be normal and simply feel like everyone else.
- Miss Out On Sleepovers! - even sleepovers with friends were a worry. We’d have to feel confident that the parents would be able to deal with a hypo, should one occur.
- Eat Regularly - with daily injections it was important to keep mealtimes regular, in fact, it was essential to eat during a particular time window. This made school trips and socialising hard, without feeling very different.
- Worry about Hypos - if there’s anything guaranteed to make you look different in front of your classmates, it’s having a hypo! Whether you’re just feeling a little “drunk” or worse – immediately you’re singled out for special attention.
Why We Pushed for a Pump
Hurrah for the internet! It enabled me to find out loads of free information about what worked well for different children or teenagers. It swiftly became apparent that a pump was far more flexible and allowed a normal teenager lifestyle.
It had the flexibility to cope with different types of days – you could change insulin levels if it was a particular active day, or if you just didn’t feel like eating much. It also reduced the risk of serious hypos and usually resulted in better blood glucose control which reduced the risk of long term complications.
Most importantly, it gave you the option to be able to manage your diabetes rather than have your life run by it!
With one scary episode which resulted in a hospital admission by ambulance and increasingly poor control, we fought and won the funding for an insulin pump.
Since then, Alissa has been able to live a normal teenage life – spending time with friends, enjoying school trips and after-school activities, eating when she chose.
When I read of other girls the same age who have their diabetes wildly out of control, I can’t help but wonder if the restraints of daily injections might be a part of the reason that they’re rebelling.
Alissa is now at University and although her control is not fantastic, it’s not terrible either. She’s not had a hospital admission for over five years and is able to enjoy her life to the full. Her insulin pump (nicknamed Philip) is due to be changed to a funky purple one and she’s happy to tell friends and family of it’s imminent arrival.
We look forward to moving on with new technology and are excited by the results of recent research into curing diabetes.
Meanwhile, Alissa managing her own diabetes and enjoying her life to the full.
About the Author
Jen Carter runs the Diabetia website which offers information on type 1 diabetes , her diabetic daughter Alissa also writes regularly for the Diabetia site.