Category: Childhood

Raising a teen with type 1 diabetes

Raising a Teen With Type 1 Diabetes

Raising a Teen With Type 1 Diabetes

Raising Ezra, Our T1D

By: Christie Meyers

Who knew that day at the pediatrician, we would be admitted to the hospital a few hours later.

My little boy, 5 years old, bravely getting insulin injections and checking blood sugars fearlessly. He said to his Endo, “okay I eat, my mom gives me a shot and I check my blood sugars. Can I go home now? My sisters miss me”. I was amazed as his ability to accept this new way of life. I thought “we’ve got this!”.

That continued for quite some time. Ezra, my “z man” as we call him, took diabetes head on. He began using an insulin pump at age 6. This allowed for more freedom as he went to play dates and played sports. I could administer a bolus by his meter and he wasn’t interrupted.

We both were feeling so confident; so optimistic.

I read about complications and about kids and adults with Type 1 diabetes refusing to care for themselves. I thought “thank God he is responsible. We’ll never have that problem”.


Now we’re here.

Age 12. Puberty. Entering the teen years. And it’s been a rough two years. He eats and doesn’t bolus. He lies about blood sugars. He doesn’t want to carry his meter when he goes outside. Ezra is tired of having diabetes.

He’s embarrassed of always having supplies with him. He’s overwhelmed by the process and never ending responsibility. And I now think, who can blame him? I’m his mother. I don’t have diabetes. And I hate it. The worrying. The midnight checks. The extra prep that goes into everyday. Counting every carb he eats. Measuring food. Packing supplies.

Watching him go through something that I can’t take away from him. I tell him to be positive. That it’s not a choice he has to neglect his health. But ultimately it is his choice. He’s growing up. I can’t be everywhere and I can’t make all his choices.

I believe in him.

I believe he’s going to be okay. He’s going to find a way to find his focus and to be successful mentally, physically and emotionally. What I see is diabetes affects so much more than the physical. And I’m so proud of my son for being who he is and being able to talk to me about how he feels.

It’s been almost 7 years since our lives completely changed. My Zman is my hero. He’s my little lion. Fearless and brave. And diabetes will not beat him down. He’s going to conquer before it has the chance.



My Early Life, Without Sugar

My Early Life, Without Sugar

My Early Life, Without Sugar

By: Richard Vaughn

*This post contains affiliate links*

When I was diagnosed in 1945, the doctor told my parents that I should not eat anything containing sugar. I don’t remember my reaction to being denied sugar at that time. My diagnosis was only a few days after my sixth birthday.

I do remember missing sweet things to drink. For some time I drank milk from our own cows. That was not a good choice, but we did not know that. It did not contain sugar, so we thought it was ok.

When we went grocery shopping my family did not buy candy, cookies or ice cream. I don’t know what my sister thought about that, she was three years younger, and she probably wanted sugary treats.

A year or so later, we discovered saccharin at a drugstore –

My mother learned to prepare desserts sweetened with saccharin. I had pies, cookies, and a birthday cake sweetened with that wonderful stuff. Saccharin was great! Mother made desserts sweetened with sugar for the rest of the family.

I was happy with my own desserts, and I never wanted to taste of theirs. My father prepared homemade ice cream, and a portion sweetened with saccharin was set aside for me. I always looked forward to that. It was a summer treat.

One day in our grocery store we saw a display of little bottles containing colored liquids. It was called Kool Aid. It was invented in the 1920s and initially sold in concentrated liquid form.

Later on it was sold as a powder in little packets. The Kool Aid we bought in the 1940s was in a concentrated liquid form, so we added water and saccharin. It made a delicious drink. I was very happy.

I had low blood sugar at times for many years –

My mother gave me a glass with some water mixed with sugar. That was the only sugar I had for very many years. I had some awful seizures at night several times each year, and the sugar water was ready for those occasions.

If I could not drink the liquid, my father would sit behind me on my bed and prop me up while my mother rubbed the sugar water on my lips and gums until I had enough to bring me around, so I could drink some of the liquid. I think I may have associated the sugar with my seizures, and that may have made sugar even more undesirable.

There were no meters for measuring blood sugar for my first 40 years after diagnosis, so my urine was tested for sugar each morning to determine my insulin dosage, and then I had to depend on my own feelings to detect low blood sugar the rest of the day.

While sleeping at night my parents would listen for me to be thrashing around in bed to determine that I had low blood sugar. Their bed was close to mine for many years, so that worked out well.

Now I will fast forward to the current century –

I’ll tell you about a discussion that my sister and I had a few years ago. Our father worked at a post office, and he had an afternoon and evening shift. He got home at 11:30 PM. She told me that he would stop at a store on the way home from work and buy candy bars. They were hidden high in a cabinet in the kitchen.

I can remember entering the kitchen several times and my sister was standing with her back against a wall, with her hands behind her. I guess I was not curious about that. She was hiding a candy bar she had been eating.

I never saw a candy bar, and she waited more than sixty years to tell me about that. We laugh a lot about her candy bars. I am glad she had them, and I am glad I did not see them.


To know more of what it was like to be a diabetic in the 1940’s and beyond, you can read Richard Vaughn’s book: Beating The Odds: 64 Years of Diabetes Health 

 


Why Are They Judging Me?

Why Are They Judging Me?

Why Are They Judging Me?

By: Marrium abid Sandhu

Some people have a background or a story that is so central to their identity that they believe their life would be incomplete without it. Here’s my story..

Why are they judging me?

Is this the reality or do I suffer from schizophrenia? I’m not from another galaxy, I mean, I just have diabetes.

Society took it upon itself to delineate me as a diabetic. On the mention of my name, the ignorant minds of humans formed an image of a weak, disoriented, bewildered and egotistical teenager.

I was nine years old when I was first diagnosed with type-one diabetes. It shook me to my core. I was not old enough to even comprehend what diabetes meant. But the way people around me reacted; it felt as if I was an unstable nucleus emitting radiations.

My heart told me to be optimistic, persuaded me to look at life from this new perspective, but everything in my life went downhill. On various occasions during the early stages, I was able to pick myself up and do my daily chores the normal way but that did not last that way for long.

Pricking my fingers four to five times a day and taking insulin shots before every meal was never an easy task. Until high school, I used to go around hiding the fact that I was a diabetic. I had an irrational fear of people judging me. I hardly socialized. I kept to my room and to myself, reading miserable and depressing novels, injecting myself with something that was supposed to make me better but felt no less than a cruel punishment.

As I grew older,

things started to improve and diabetes became a part of my daily routine. I realized that having diabetes was a part of me but it in no way defined me. It had rehabilitated me. It had made me resilient, mentally and morally.

As I progressed through high school, I craved to do better in academics, sports, and life in general. Having diabetes gave me strength to face any challenge or problem that came my way.

Friends are of imminent importance, you cannot function without having someone to talk to, someone to associate yourself with. Socializing made me grasp the significance and need for someone to share my feelings with, someone to trust with my problems.

My family and I shifted a lot due to my father’s work. Being on the go, I constantly met new people who made me confident in my own skin. I went to Greece on a school trip for 4 weeks. Exploring a new country, a completely different environment was an experience I will trade for nothing.

Doing everything myself, from shopping to laundry, I gained a fair bit of poise and familiarized myself with adapting to a new place and a completely different way of life. The diabetic, anthrophobic girl had transformed.

My hard working and astute sense of nature led me to be selected as a part of my school’s student council and in addition I represented my school in various national level sports competitions. I volunteered myself to help the underdeveloped schools in my city.

I taught English and Mathematics to a group of class 9 students. I saw a whole new way of life within my culture in that school. And now I’m studying architecture in one of the best universities in turkey.

I am a diabetic.

And I do not have a problem with people judging me because of that. If they judge me, it does not depict who I am, it depicts who they are.

To sum it up in the words of Sonia Sotomayor, the current associate justice of the Supreme Court of the United States,

“Diabetes taught me discipline”.



 

Never Be Ashamed For Being Different

Never Be Ashamed For Being Different

Never Be Ashamed For Being Different

Throughout my school years, I hid my diabetes from my peers. I felt embarrassed and ashamed for having a disease that was easily misunderstood. When I went to class I never came fully prepared for a low blood sugar. I wouldn’t check my blood sugar or administer insulin in front of people. If I had to attend to my diabetes, I would do so in the bathroom. The only people aware of my condition was my family (of course) and a few really close friends.

I didn’t want to be treated or viewed differently from everyone else.

It went to such far extremes that I was putting my life at risk at times. Which ironically became even more humiliating when it came down to it. I recall my doctor advising that I should try an insulin pump — which I completely avoided. I didn’t want the looks or stares that came with wearing a device attached to me.

I recall getting teased on one occasion in particular at school when someone saw a insulin syringe in my purse and accused me of taking “drugs”. I simply explained: “no, this is insulin, a hormone that I MUST take everyday to stay alive.

After many years of battling my self-esteem and confidence, the worry of what other people think went away. What it eventually came down to was realizing my health and well being comes before anyone’s perception of me.

I started talking and opening up to more people about my diabetes which then brought on more conversation and ways for me to express myself. I embraced the person I’ve become by sharing what makes me different. Hiding my illness for so long made me feel like a prisoner in my own body.

Now I have an insulin pump and CGM, which I wear proudly. I give myself insulin and check my blood sugars wherever and whenever. And in any given opportunity I try to educate more and more people because I know what it’s like to feel alone and misunderstood.

So this is my way of taking strides to inform the public and let other’s know they’re not alone. And that you should never be ashamed for being different but feel empowered for what makes you unique.


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I Won't Go Down Without a Fight

I Won’t Go Down Without a Fight

I Won’t Go Down Without a Fight

(I’m 15 years old at the time)

Brittany, what’s your blood sugar?” My mother asks after I get home from school.

Umm… 136.” A number I randomly blurt out without testing what my blood sugar actually was.

I go in my room and glance over at my unused lancets and test strips. I know what’s it’s there for. I know I’m supposed to take care of myself.

But why aren’t I? Why am I fighting against it?

I go to lay down, I’m tired, and I don’t feel right. I fall asleep…

(A half hour or so slips by)

Hi Brittany, My name is John , I’m an EMT and we’re here to help youCan you tell me what your name is?

“...Brittany“, I reply.

“Great Brittany, do you know why we’re here?”

My diabetes?” As I let out a deep saddened sigh.

Yes, your blood sugar was 19.”

We gave you a shot of dextrose. Please drink this juice and eat this sandwich to stabilize your blood sugar.”

Thank you“, I reply as I’m still very dazed and confused as to what’s going on.

My mother hugs me and begs me “please take better care of yourself“.

As tears fall from her face. I see the frantic look in her eyes.

Once I’m back to full consciousness, it sets in. I melt down. I cry, and this isn’t a normal cry. This is painful and it hurts and all the anger releases from within me in full despair.

The feeling of helplessness, guilt, shame because I feel weak… I feel tested… I feel numb… I feel unworthy of all these extra chances I get.

I feel like I’m letting everyone down… I’m letting myself down. I feel like a failure at a disease I never asked for. Something I could have never prevented.

All I can think about when I take my insulin injections is if I don’t take enough I could end up with amputation, loss of eyesight, kidney failure, heart disease and various complications.

I think about how even if I have great control, there is still a risk. It overwhelms me. I went from having a care free childhood to having a fear of dying in my sleep from a low blood sugar or too soon from complications.

This isn’t the typical “teenage reality”.

I’m sick and there’s nothing I can do to fix it. No denial, begging, or lashing out will make my situation better.

I’m my own worst enemy and the only person who can save me in the end, is me. It’s the most terrifying and debilitating feeling having this burden riding on my back.

It took awhile but this process has changed me. I came to grips with knowing I only had one choice. Which was to fight. So I did. I let it in. I embraced the unknown. I rose above the darkness that consumed me. I continued to get up everyday to fight the same demons that left me tired from the night before.

I went from crawling to walking to eventually running. I didn’t want diabetes to win. I knew that this wasn’t going to be easy. But I knew what was on the line.

I knew I would fail, which I have. It took much trial and error. But I’ve learned to get back up, brush myself off, and keep going. To not let the fear overcome me and dwindle my spirit. To honor and respect the journey, for it has led me to here.

To not go down without a fight…


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Letter To My Mother (From The Diabetic Herself)

Letter To My Mother (From The Diabetic Herself)

Letter To My Mother (From The Diabetic Herself)

The moment I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes I didn’t know that my world was going to change.

But you did.

I didn’t see the fear or worried look on your face as it must have felt like your world had been turned upside down.

You held it together for me—you put a smile on your face—and told me everything is going to be okay.

I didn’t witness the nights where you laid awake in bed asking “why this had to happen to me?

Why your daughter—your baby—your piece to the puzzle had to be given this disease.

I didn’t realize the pain I put you through throughout the years when I didn’t want to take care of myself.

When you could have said anything and I would have looked the other way.

No one could save me—not even you.

The sacrifices and the struggles that you dealt with and being a mother is hard regardless.

A single mother going through difficult times of not having insurance.

Barely being able to afford my insulin and supplies.

The times where I dropped a vial of insulin on the kitchen floor by mistake—were cringe worthy moments (I’m sure).

Not having anyone to talk to that understands or even knows what Type 1 Diabetes is.

I know that you would have done anything to take it away from me, even if it meant for you to have it.

Having to worry if I actually checked my blood sugar (or if I lied to ignore it).

If I took the right amount of insulin (or if I took any at all).

Having to save my life countless times—fearing for my life ahead—having the fear of losing me.

Begging for me to wake up to reality and take care of myself or I would end up killing myself.

I’m sorry mom—I didn’t understand.

All I wanted to do was bury my head in the sand and escape the reality of it.

Feeling sorry for myself and not knowing that I’m my own worst enemy.

I thought that this was a life sentence. I didn’t know how beautiful my future was going to be.

I didn’t know at the time that this shall pass. That what doesn’t kill me WILL make me stronger.

That I can do this. 

I know that a mother doesn’t want or need a thank you but now I’m so much more appreciative.

Now I can see it from your perspective.

Now when I look at and kiss my three childrenI can say that I have the world.

The world you always wanted me to have.

I have peace, I have love, I have the future.

Now I understand.

Being a mother is learning about strengths you didn’t know you had, and dealing with fears you didn’t know existed.

I would go to the ends of the earth for my children. No questions asked.

Despite my hardships—I found lessons—I found purpose—I found out why I have diabetes.

Why I’m still here today.

This right here…this is my purpose.


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10 Things I Would Tell My 12 Year Old Self Today About Having Diabetes

10 Things I Would Tell My 12-year-Old Self Today About Having Diabetes

10 Things I Would Tell My 12 Year Old Self  Today About Having Diabetes

After having diabetes for 13 years, I’ve acquired a lot of wisdom. I have reflected upon my experiences and there are 10 things that I would tell my 12-year-old self today about having diabetes.

Finding out my diagnosis and having diabetes is a very difficult concept to process, no matter the age.

But being that I was a 12 years old at the time; I feel that it inhibited my conscious effort to accept being diabetic. I was old enough to know what life was before I was diagnosed, yet I was not mature enough to understand the severity of this disease or how to adapt. Looking back, I’m surprised that I’m alive today.

For years & years — I had a really hard time.

It was a time in my life where I was starting to find out who I was, starting middle school, making friends, and just being a kid like everyone else.

I didn’t want to “stand out” or be picked on for being different. It’s sad to say, but “hey it’s the truth”.

I wanted to eat what I wanted—when I wanted—no questions asked. I didn’t want to take on this responsibility when I never asked for this in the first place.

But now that I’m older, and after many years, experiences, and wisdom, I see that diabetes doesn’t have control—I do. I’m married, I have my 3 children and a great life. What more can you ask for? I have it all, and then some.

I CAN DO ANYTHING – EXCEPT MAKE INSULIN

If I could, these are 10 things that I would tell my 12-year-old self-today:

1. You’re braver than you think and stronger than you know.

Don’t think of this as a “weakness”. Think of having diabetes as an opportunity to find your strengths and courage that you didn’t even know existed.

Run with it – You were given this life because you’re strong enough to live it.

You’re capable of battling diabetes. Control diabetes — do not let it control you! You have the potential for greatness, always believe that.

2. Invest in your health. Beauty fades, your health is forever.

Don’t be overly consumed in “your looks”. To live the best quality of life – you need to take care of yourself first. By doing so, you’ll make it to the best days of your life.

Seeing your daughter walk down the aisle, your son graduate from college, your grandchildren walk for the first time or getting the opportunity to relax on a beach somewhere when your 70.

That’s the life you want to protect and honor.

3. Know that there will be bad days. But the best days are yet to come.

You will have your bad days and your failures. This is what molds you into the person you will become. Without these experiences in your life, you wouldn’t learn the important lessons that make you the person you’re supposed to be.

Learn from your mistakes, find ways to improve and rest assured that it will get easier.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. Just continue to have hope and faith, and believe in yourself. One day you will get to look back, and appreciate the hard times because you’ve come so far.

4. Listen to your family’s concerns. They may not offer the best support, but they mean well.

They don’t always give the best advice. Nor can they put themselves directly in your shoes. But they want what’s best for you.

Fighting against them, having anger, and feeling sorry for yourself isn’t going to change a thing.

They never wanted this to happen to you. Take what was given to you and understand people can only offer so much support. Nobody can fix it or take it away from you. You have to dig deep within yourself and find that strength. In the end, you control your destiny.

5. Don’t be embarrassed by carrying around insulin syringes in school.

There will be your peers who assume you use needles for “other purposes” or have their questions, and some will even stare when you check your sugar or take your insulin. Don’t be embarrassed or feel like an outcast.

“Ignorance is bliss”, they say. It’s true.. just because they don’t understand doesn’t mean you should hide from it.

Share with them, let them know that this is what it takes for you to stay alive. The people who love and care for you will understand and want to know more.

6. Educating yourself about diabetes is key.

When you educate yourself, you’re honoring yourself. You need to know everything there is to know about diabetes.

Knowledge is power and it gives you insight into what can happen if you don’t take care of yourself.

Shutting information out and not wanting to learn, you’re only hurting yourself and no one else. You will be surprised that there’s so much to learn, and it will make you feel good to let it all in.

7. Find help when necessary. Suck up your pride!

It’s okay to ask for help, there’s no shame in that. Managing diabetes can get very overwhelming. Ask your family, friends, physician, or even attend support groups. There is now even an online support group social media app (just like Facebook) called Beyond Type 1.

Keep an open mind and know that you’re going to need help—just know to ask—and know where to find it.

It doesn’t mean you’re a weaker person, if anything it’s the opposite. You have the courage to ask and take control.

8. This isn’t a fad, this is a lifestyle change.

Diabetes isn’t going to go away. Unless, they find a cure in your lifetime. But right now, this is what you have to deal with. You’re going to have to make changes and accept this new way of life. Even if you try to ignore it, it’s still going to be there.

This lifestyle isn’t the worst thing in the world. Yes, you will have to take insulin injections several times a day & check sugars frequently.

But you will also be watching what you eat and making sure to exercise. This will not only make you a healthy diabetic, but a healthy individual regardless.

9. Open up, it’s okay to be vulnerable.

Yes, It’s going to be hard to express your feelings or thoughts at times. You’re human. But the best therapy is just talking about it. Getting it all out there. Break down the walls. No, someone that’s not diabetic may not fully understand. But people do sympathize and want to find ways to show support. The more you open up, the less insecure you will feel.

10. This is a blessing in disguise—Embrace it!

You can look at this illness for the negatives, or you can look at it for the positives. The positives of having diabetes are what will help you get through it.

The way it makes you a better person, gives you a new perspective on health, makes you appreciate life more and gives you the strength to conquer anything.


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diagnosed with type 1 diabetes

The Day I Was Diagnosed With Type 1 Diabetes

The day I was diagnosed with Type 1  diabetes – was the day that changed my life forever.

I was 12 years old at the time—just a few months away from my thirteenth birthday. It was during Christmas break from school.  A few days had passed, and I started feeling very weak, lethargic, thirsty, and I lost a lot of weight. All I wanted to do was rest. I went to my mother and told her how ill I was feeling. She didn’t think too much of it at first. I was commonly sick with viruses that go around, which we happened to be in the middle of flu season. But this wasn’t the flu—no, the symptoms were worsening and something felt much different. A few more days had gone on, and my mother finally noticed that I wasn’t getting better. I looked almost as terrible as I felt at the time.

My mother took me to the closest hospital to get examined. The doctors ran several tests, which felt like it took hours. At this very moment, I just wanted to feel better. I had no idea that my world was about to change forever. The doctor then came in and gave my mother and I a preliminary diagnosis, that the tests are showing “diabetes”. “Diabetes! What’s that?”. Like most people, especially at my age, I wasn’t aware of what diabetes was. I had no idea what was going on. I then had to be transported to an All Children’s Hospital for further evaluation and treatment for a blood sugar above 900!

When transported, the doctor’s that began treating me, were frantically surprised that I wasn’t in a diabetic coma for hyperglycemia and DKA. It’s shocking that I was still able to speak or “function”. I remember thinking the days prior and how I was unaware at the time that my pancreas had failed me. I was poked and prodded at for an IV insertion. They couldn’t find a vein (of course), and eventually had to use my hand. All during this, I was tired and confused. I remember just feeling the urge to sleep, not wanting to open my eyes. This feeling is so hard to describe—I had felt like something had taken control over my body.

It was all starting to get real, as I was officially diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes from the All Children’s physicians. I remember that my mother was in shock and trying to hold it emotionally together for my sake. It was just me and her in the emergency room. I thought— well, maybe everything is fine. “How terrible can it really be? “Type 1 Diabetes? “What’s Type 1?” Maybe it’s the good kind, I thought.

I don’t recall feeling any emotion at the time towards the news. I think it was really hard for me to grasp the seriousness of what was going on. It just wasn’t processing quite yet. The only thing that stood out to me was the reaction of my mother crying. That’s what really let me know that something was not right.

It quickly became an eye opener when receiving the first needle given to me, from the nurses. I was told that I was going to have to give myself injections several times a day. I honestly didn’t know how I was going to do this. I couldn’t even look at a needle without squirming. I remember asking my mother, “how long do I have to do this for?” The reply I received was “for the rest of your life.” Those are words that were hard to swallow and still live vividly in my mind. I knew I didn’t want to do this, but I didn’t have a choice in the matter.

I watched plenty of videos from the hospital that gave a quick 101 on what Type 1 Diabetes was all about. How it happens and the treatment for it. “But why?” I kept asking. “Why me?” That question never got answered for me. I don’t think anyone could give me the answer I was looking for. Leaving the hospital, I left as a whole new person. With insulin, syringes, blood sugar meter, and snacks in hand.

I left as this person I didn’t even know yet. The person it would take me years to find. How this disease would now shape me into the person I will become. I didn’t know the severity of the condition I was now diagnosed with. Or how I would be navigating my way through life with insulin. Moving mountains that I never thought I would have to move. The day I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes …changed me forever.

Little did I know this journey had only begun…

Type 1 diabetes signs and symptoms can come on quickly and may include:

  • Increased thirst
  • Frequent urination
  • Extreme hunger
  • Unintended weight loss
  • Irritability and other mood changes
  • Fatigue and weakness
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea/Vomiting

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