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.'” 

Before Prom: The Preparations of Prom with Diabetes

Prom is the final dance for teens finishing high-school. A night of catered food, group photos, dancing and reminiscing about the past four years. In general, planning for prom can be a task, finding the perfect dress, matching heels, and  a date.  We spoke to Cayla (17) about how she is preparing for her prom.

What are you most looking forward to about your prom?

“I most look forward to dressing up, spending the night with my friends and having a date to do the date rituals with.”

When you picked a dress for prom did you take into consideration where you can put your pump? 

“When picking a dress I did not consider my pump at all. I don’t think that should affect your decision. I am most likely going to wear a leg band. When choosing a clutch I kind of took my supplies into consideration but mostly what I liked best and went with my dress because I can always wear my CGM if I do not want to carry my meter around.”

Do you have any worries about going to prom with diabetes? 

“The only worry is getting to my pump when I need to bolus as I will have to leave the dance to go to the bathroom. I am not concerned about carb counting as I consider myself an old pro who often checks in with the dietitian to make sure my skills are still on point.”

Have you read any blogs or resources about prom and diabetes or are you going to just experience it on your own?

“I have attended D-tour which has young women with T1D who have experienced prom and offered me different pointers based of their experiences and friends experiences.”

Do you have any advice for teens going to prom? 

“Make sure to be prepared. If you do not know how the evening is planned out ask a teacher who plans it, and older sibling/friend. This way you will know where and when you are eating and how all the excitement will affect you. Remember, having your diabetes taken care of ahead of time will help to make prom just as perfect as you dream it would be.”

We will follow up with Cayla after prom to see how it went and if she has any new found information to share with us!

From Pen to Pump: Starting Insulin Pump Therapy in High-School

There are different methods of administering insulin for those living with type 1 diabetes, some prefer syringes, others use pens and there are also insulin pumps. No method is worse nor better, they all provide different pros and cons and each person living with type 1 diabetes finds what works best for them.  We spoke to Melissa (17) about her recent switch from pen to pump while attending high-school.

What was it like going from pens to needles?

“I love my pump! Sometimes I wish that I could go back to pens because of the site being in the way, but overall I love not using pens.”pump

How long were you on pens? How long have you been on a pump? 

“I was on pens for 19 days short of a year. I have been on my pump since April 7 of this year (2015).” 
How did life change for you in regard to going to school with a pump versus pen?

“There is a lot of beeping that is involved with the pump that I didn’t have on the pens. But my friends and I like to go out for lunch and it is so much easier to walk and eat with a pump.”

How did your friends react when you went on the pump?

“My friends were awesome when I went on the pump. They accepted me and asked questions about it.”

Has the pump benefited you in high-school?

“The pump has helped me a lot because of being able to eat anywhere and take insulin so easily.”

Have you experienced any bully like scenarios because of your pump/diabetes?

“Not really. Some people will say that it must be hard or that they could never have diabetes but that’s just because they are ignorant towards diabetes.”

 Has anything embarrassing happened in regards to school and your pump? 

“I’ve had my pump beep during presentations which is loud. I’ve got my tubing caught on my binder and yelled. That’s about it.”

Overall, has pumping been a positive experience thus far?

“I love my pump so much! I can’t imagine ever going back to pens now. Sometimes it is hot and bulky but I just remember how life was with pens then I don’t complain anymore.”

Special Event: Yoga in the Park

Last night fifteen eager yogis set up  yoga mats on the cold grass and stretched their bodies and  minds. T1 Empowerment hosted their first yoga in the park at Springbank Park in London, ON. A community event to help spread awareness about T1 Empowerment as well as to give all a chance to clear their minds and relax after a hard days work.

With great attendance we were guided by Kendra, a nurse practitioner who knows diabetes all too well, with a four year old t1 daughter and a t1 husIMG_6146band as well.  Kendra started off with light stretching, but guided us right into some tough poses, that tested our strength and endurance.  We held planks while groaning, but it was all worth it in the end when we laid on our backs, eyes closed and relaxed our bodies from our feet to our heads.

The raffle was great, giving away a bright green yoga mat & bag to a lucky winner.  Our little helper E, waved around the yoga mat encouraging our participants to enter the draw.   We all enjoyed cold bottles of water and fresh apples and engaged in great conversation.

A special thanks to Kendra H., Medtronic Diabetes and Mike O.

For more information about yoga & diabetes, check out our resource page.

Party Mix: Partying, Alcohol and Diabetes

High-school can often be the start of a lot of experiences
that are often full of choices that are hard to make.  The party scene continues into college and while it calms down in later adulthood, high-school is often when teens have their first drink.  According to www.ccsa.ca 70% of Canadian youth have tried drinking and Canadian youth first consume alcohol at the average age of 16.  But, when you throw diabetes in the mix, partying can become much more of a risk.

I spoke to a teen (16) about her experiences with attending parties. She gave the following answers:

What changed from attending parties as a non diabetic versus now?

I didn’t really attend parties so much unless it was birthday parties before Red Cups 18ozbecause I was a young age. But if it was a birthday party/function before I was diabetic I felt comfortable normally with the situations and wasn’t very worried. Now that I’m diabetic I get anxious about all the things I need to keep with me and counting carbs. I also get anxious about not wanting people to stare at me because I have to test my blood sugar or bolus. It tends to make situations more uncomfortable for me.”

Do you feel less inclined to take care of your diabetes in public at parties because of the social aspect?

“I always feel less inclined to take care of my diabetes in public or at parties because I feel very watched. I feel like it’s easier to avoid testing for awhile and bolusing just so I don’t have to deal with weird looks and questions so often. It tends to take up a bunch of my time too and starts to worry me, so I often fool myself by thinking I’m fine if I don’t test. Which I know isn’t right and it’s a bad habit.”

When entering high-school and parties with friends became more of an occurrence did diabetes ever detour you from attending? If so, why? How?

“At first when parties started becoming more prominent in my life and reoccurring, I found that for a long time I stayed well away from them because I was way too scared that something would go wrong with my diabetes. I also felt that none of my friends would care enough to help. I was detoured from socializing in that manor. I felt as if me going out and having fun would mess with my diabetes.”

How has alcohol played a factor in your diabetes? What precautions do you use to prevent something bad from happening such as passing out or going low?

“I don’t really drink alcohol often, and if I am at a party I will sometimes have a drink or two if my friends are drinking. If you choose to drink, especially if underage and without adults, there are precautions you must take in order to have a safe night.

Always always bring your tester, an emergency kit with any extra supplies you may need, and lots of treats and snacks for lows, because of the way alcohol effects the blood sugar it’s hard to tell how your body will respond to it. I know taking all these things with you seems really hard like  “how can I fit this all in a purse?” But don’t be ashamed to bring a backpack, trust me people bring bags to parties all the time! And put all your supplies you need in the bag. If you take the bag off always talk to the owner of the house or wherever you are and ask them to put it in a safe spot where it won’t be stolen or seen and make sure you know where it is.

Make sure before you go to a party that you have insulin in your pump or have your pen. Make sure your battery is full on everything including your meter and pump also, make sure your phone has closest to full battery as possible invade of emergencies. Always make sure you have at least one friend that you trust 100% that you can go to if you have ANY problems throughout the night!

Also, always plan your ride home, that goes for anyone even if you’re not diabetic. Always have at least 20-25$ if possible depending on where you are in relation to your home or where you’re staying, incase you ever need to cab home. Also, keep a cab number in your phone so you always have it.

I have forgotten supplies at someone’s house and had to have them bring them back to me at school so make sure you remember your stuff when your leaving! Set a reminder in your phone if needed! Don’t ever feel ashamed that you need to bolus or test! Keep track of your numbers. I promise that  most people don’t care, and if they do all they’re going to do is ask what you’re doing and  a lot of people are just curious and care about you. If you are drinking, have reminders in your phone to test your BG at least every hour, if not every 30 minutes. Some people don’t feel their lows when in certain party environments.

If you feel sick or if something wrong or you BG is off, TELL SOMEONE. Take a breather, test, sit outside, go to the washroom, grab some water, whatever you need. Remember parties and events are meant to have fun! That means sometimes we just have to do a little extra work in order to have a safe and fun night!”

For more information about diabetes and alcohol please visit: Diabetes & Alcohol or check out the resource page on our website.