T-Shirts, Clips and Pumps: Fashion & Diabetes

You wouldn’t think that the words diabetes and fashion would belong together, however, for those living with type 1 diabetes, often what we wear can conflict or agree with our diabetes management.  To wanting to hide an insulin pump or wear something that makes giving tummy injections easy, we spoke to Sabra (18) who gives us an inside look on fashion and diabetes.

image from Tally Gear
image from Tally Gear

Do you feel like what you wear is determined by your diabetes?

Maybe, somewhat, I wear an insulin pump, and I often times just stick it in my bra. That usually works out pretty well. But, I do have to wear a little thing over my bra to make sure the pump actually stays in place. So whatever I wear does have to cover that. It’s not too bad though, I’m a pretty modest person naturally anyway.

What choices in clothing do you make?

When I was younger, and had first started pumping, I ALWAYS kept my pump in my bra, even if I had pockets. Now that I’m older, I often times wear it in my pockets as well. But I don’t limit myself to things with pockets. Though, as I mentioned above, I wear a little thing OVER my bra to help keep everything in place. I use the Bali Comfort Revolution Bra. 

Do you wear anything that holds your diabetes supplies that is made especially for diabetes?

No, and I never have.

Do you own any apparel that is diabetes related? Yes!  Though currently it’s just 2 shirts…wait, 3. One if from a local support group, another was a fundraiser thing for Project Blood Sugar Fairy (GREAT Organization!) and then the 3rd is from the Type 1 Diabetes Memes store. They have AMAZING stuff!

Do you have any trips or tricks to share with other teen girls in regards to fashion and diabetes?

I’ve never been one to flaunt my pump or other diabetes supplies, but I really respect those who choose to do it.  It’s definitely makes it easier for me to tell when I’m around another diabetic! But, I say don’t let diabetes define the way you dress. Dress in whatever way makes YOU feel beautiful!

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Pack Your Bags: Diabetes & Travel

Soon school will be out and teens will be free to travel. Family vacations camping, to amusement parks, road trips or plane rides to another country, prepping for a trip can be a lot of work regardless of living with diabetes.  However, when you forget your bikini, it’s not as big of an issue if you forget your insulin vial.  Klaire (16) gives us an insider look at how she handles travelling and diabetes.

Do you go on many vacations? What type of vacations do you go on? 

“The vacations I’ve gone on were to Key West, and we drive there. I also went to Chicago, on a school trip, so I didn’t have my parents with me. We also go to our lake house almost every weekend. We go on the boat there, often.”

Has diabetes affected your families ability to travel on vacations?Tips-on-How-to-Stay-Safe-While-Travelling

“It hasn’t made us not gone on any. But, it does add extra stress because there is always one little thing I forget or lose. With diabetes supplies you can’t forget any of your supplies because they are all necessary.”

Do you find yourself stressed or worried when travelling with diabetes? If so, why?

“I feel extremely stressed, like right now. I forgot to bring reservoirs to the lake. I am dreading telling my dad I forgot them.  I think I have enough insulin in my pump for the weekend, but I am scared to get in trouble. It’s really hard having diabetes and traveling, a normal person just needs to remember to pack clothes. People with diabetes need to remember to pack a whole check list of stuff!  If we forget one thing it feels like the end of the world. I’m not perfect. Im going to forget stuff like a normal person does. I know what I forget has a major impact on me, but I am just a kid. It’s hard having all of these responsibilities and to remember every single little itty bitty thing. Not only with all the diabetes stuff to remember, I still have to remember to pack clothes and make sure not to forget my socks. I still have to deal with all the other semi-stressful things non-diabetics have to deal with. I’m just a kid, and kids are can be dumb and make mistakes, but unfortunately my mistakes can have a greater consequence than other mistakes such as forgetting to bring socks.”

What precautions do you take when travelling with diabetes?

“I usually make a check list of everything and make sure EVERY single little thing is there. I usually take triple the amount of everything that I need.”

What obstacles do you face when travelling with diabetes?

“The obstacles that I face travelling is in regards food, if it’s a new place, new food and I have no idea what’s in that food. It’s really hard to just manage diabetes on vacation because everyone is so up beat and wanting to go here and there, and I am usually like, ‘hey guys, can I check my blood real quick?’ then they get mad because I’m holding them back from doing what they want to do on vacation. It sucks to be the person who always stops people from doing what they want to do.”

What advice would you give teens with diabetes that are travelling this summer?

“I’d make sure to pack double of everything you need. You never know if you might lose or something might malfunction. Have patience people are going to get upset with you, but you just need to have thick skin and explain why your diabetes is important to take care of, that will probably shut them up for the rest of the trip. Don’t be nervous. Make a check list of everything that you need!  Be prepared for  curious people who are going to want to know why you are stabbing yourself with a needle. They may not understand, but that is just the way it is.”

For more resources about travelling with diabetes, check out our resource page!

School Trips: A Teen’s Take on School Trips

School trips are apart of the elementary and high-school experience. A chance to get out of your desk and into the world. However, for a person living with diabetes, going on a class trip can require extra precautions.  We spoke to Shelby (16) about her experiences with school trips and living with type 1 diabschool-busetes.
Have you attended school trips in high school? 
“As an FFA member, I attend competitions and conventions.”
What extra steps do you have to take in order to attend class trips versus other classmates?
“To attend, I’m required to take my meter, insulin and needles, and glucagon along with snacks and treatment for low blood sugars such as candy. I also have to count carbs for everything I eat and commonly miss out on snacking like everyone else does. “
Do you feel like you are ever centred out during class trips because of your diabetes? 
“Sometimes I’m centred out at events by other students from different schools. They want to know what I’m doing and why I carry all this stuff with me. I’m also always to have someone from my school with me in case of emergency which makes me stand out a little.”
Do you have any fears when attending class trips?
“I have a few fears when I go on trips. I fear dropping low and not being able to treat it. I fear going unconscious over night and nobody realizing. I fear a lot but if there’s one thing I’ve learned its you cannot let those fears take over your life. Diabetes is a condition, not a life sentence to not go anywhere.”

BFFL? Exploring Friendship and Diabetes

For those that were diagnosed at an age where they both remember their friendships before and after diagnosis, teens can often realize how different they can be treated. We spoke to Klaire (16) about her experiences with friendships, as she was diagnosed only three years ago.

Do you feel like most of your friends understand your diabetes?

“I feel like my friends get the concept of diabetes. But, I don’t think they understand the severity of it. Like, when I leave the classroom to check my blood sugar they think that I am leaving to skip class. But what they do not understand is that I’m really going to check my blood sugar and get a juice box because I’m low.  They don’t understand that if I don’t leave something bad can happen.”

How do your friends demonstrate that they care about your diabetes? 5-Soulful-Ways-To-Support-Your-Best-Friends

“When I was first diagnosed my best friend helped a lot when I was low. She would do anything in her power to get me what I needed. But, now she sees it as a peeve of hers. When I’m low at school and I have run out of juice boxes and I need to borrow a dollar, she won’t give one to me (which is understandable) and she will tell me I am irresponsible. Then she will go to the vending machine and get something for her self and I can’t have anything. My friends used to care. But, now I feel like they think it’s old news and they are tired of it. I do always have juice on me, however, once in a blue moon I don’t and I turn into the most irresponsible person ever, so they say.”

When you were diagnosed did any of your friends shy away because of your diabetes? Did you lose any friends?

“I didn’t particularly lose friends. At first I guess I gained some friends because they felt sorry for me, but then they ran off. I really have only one good close friend, she’s my best friend of  11 years and we don’t do anything without each other. She didn’t shy away but her parents where nervous to have me over at first.

How did you explain to your friends that you had diabetes?

“Usually when I explain to my friends that I have diabetes I take out my pump and I explain what it does. I also tell them how I need insulin to live.  I go to a small school, so they know I have diabetes, but they all don’t understand what it is.”

When you meet new people (potential friends) do you tell them you have diabetes right away, wait for it to come in conversations or not tell them at all?

“My pump is always in a visible spot. I don’t usually bring it up unless we are about to eat and I don’t want to freak them out by just taking out my meter and checking my blood sugar. Usually people say, ‘Oh what’s that on the side of you? Is that a step counter?’ Then, that’s when I feel like I need to tell them about my diabetes.”

Do you feel like having diabetes limits your ability to hang out with your friends as often or participate in the same activities as them? If so, how?

“I don’t feel diabetes stops me from hanging out with my friends, but it does stop me from doing activities that they do while we hang out. Like, when they want to go swimming and I don’t really want to disconnect my pump for that long I feel left out. Or when my friend says, “hey, let’s go gets some ice cream and cupcakes.” That’s when I feel really left out. Whenever we go out and eat I always feel like the odd ball out of the group. I don’t order things with many carbs at all. I don’t like eating carbs because I hate what they do to me. I have an obsession with having a good A1c (5.6) and I don’t want it to be messed up by eating something stupid like cake. But, I will take a bite and when I take a bite people freak out and say things like, “OHHH NO, you can’t eat that can you?” I get very upset, because I feel like I have explained this whole situation eighteen million times and they still don’t get it. I’m at the point where I would rather stay home and do nothing then to go hang out with people because they are always judging my diabetes.

Diabetic in the Middle: Fitting in With Diabetes

High-school isn’t easy.  When entering high-school you are mixed with new students from all over the city, and finding your clique doesn’t come together right away.  Having something such as diabetes, that can make a student ‘stick out’ making fitting in even more difficult.  We spoke to Shelby (16) who was diagnosed only a year ago.

Have you ever felt like you do not fit in?’

“I originally felt like I didn’t fit in as I was the only persopencilsn in my entire school with diabetes. I felt like because I had to do shots and test my blood sugar everyone thought of me differently. I voiced my concerns to a friend I have that also has T1 and she showed me that it’s not about caring what others think, it’s how you think about yourself.”

What advice do you have for other teen girls trying to fit in?

“I think that teen girls need to hear that advice about not caring what others think because sometimes it feels like pressure placed on us by the portraying of women in movies and magazines gets this idea in your head that you have to fit in like them.

Have you ever done something drastic in order to fit in?

“I’ve actually never done anything drastic. I grew up in a small town so when I arrived back at school after being hospitalized, my classmates immediately took on the role of being my helping hand or that extra push on hard days. Fitting in may be the more popular choice but if we were made to be the same, we wouldn’t be different people.”

Special Event: Mental Health Talk in the Park

Last evening we enjoyed the warm sun and listened to Heather Gomez share her story of struggle and hope.   Heather was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes during a time she was also battling mental illness.  Unfortunately, with the diagnosis of type 1 diabetes, Heather found her mental illness deepened.

IMG_6310Heather’s story is a familiar story for many living with type 1 diabetes. While Heather admits she kept it secret for many of her friends, she said that if she were to change anything, she would have told more of her friends.  Heather stated that, “I didn’t realize that other people were feeling the same way I did.”  In and out of treatment for various aspects of mental health, Heather tells us that she is in a much better place with mind, body and heart.

During the session, Heather told us a poem, it was more of an active poem, as she read out the sentence and we filled in the blanks in our heads. Giving us a moment to realize something very important, what do we identify as? Do we identify as diabetics? or students? creative? or happy?   For anyone interested in trying the active ‘I am’ poem, visit:  I am Poem 

Discussion afterwards was an excellent way to learn more about how to cope with mental illness and/or diabetes.  For anyone interested in more information in regards to Depression & Diabetes visit our resource page.   Also, to read more about Heather’s journey, please visit her blog: Heather Grows 

Special thanks to Heather Gomez and all those that attended last nights community event.

Teen Voice: Why me?

One of life’s biggest questions when something goes wrong is ‘why me?’  What did I do to deserve this? While it’s a question that passes through our minds, we often find the good in the bad in order to cope with our circumstances. We spoke with Morgan (14) who was diagnosed with type 1 at age five.

When you were first diagnosed how did you deal with it?

alone“When I was first diagnosed I didn’t feel much different since my older sister also had diabetes. As time went on though, I definitely got insecure to talk about diabetes or show my pump.”

Did you ever question why you were diagnosed with diabetes?

“I thought it was something everyone got I didn’t know a difference. I questioned it a lot when I got older. Why do I have to do this 5-8 times a day? Or why can’t I just be a normal kid anymore? Now, I question when I am on a good blood sugar streak and then I go really high or low, I think, ‘come on body just let me have one good day!'”

What usually goes through your mind when you think why me? 

“I know that I am lucky to have the medical tools I need and I am very thankful for my family and friends who care about me. With that being said, I think this is a blessing in disguise. I know I want to become an endocrinologist when I grow up, so I hope to help people like me. I am very lucky to have my older sister Melissa who has been a diabetic for 14 years helps me too. She is the only person I know who actually understands what it feels like and I am very grateful. I also have an amazing endocrinologist who also understands. At my doctors, we have a social worker we are very close with too.” 

What advice do you have for other teens that are questioning, why me?

“To any teenager or actually anyone battling this disease, I want you to know that you aren’t alone! You may feel like it, trust me! But, you aren’t! There are millions of people who know what you are going through! Also, if people say anything ignorant about “getting diabetes after eating this” ignore them! I used to cry because I felt like they were making fun of me. Please don’t feel like that! We are all in this together. I wake up everyday and say, ‘I may have diabetes but diabetes doesn’t have me.'”