Talking About Diabetes

Diabetes can be scary and embarrassing, but it is something that no one can handle all by themselves. It can make you sad or really frustrated sometimes, and even angry, but ignoring it won’t make it go away. When I was first diagnosed with diabetes, most of the other lions did not know anything about it, but they wanted to be helpful. The more I talked with them about it, the more they were able to help me and make me feel better about having diabetes. You don’t have to face diabetes alone.

Teachers / Coaches

Usually a parent and doctor will talk to your teachers and sports coaches and they will make a medical plan for school. Doctors and parents aren’t around during the day, so it is important for you to be able to talk to teachers and coaches about diabetes. If you are feeling sick or test low or high, it is important to tell someone right away and have a snack or take insulin if you need it. You can download this guide (.pdf) for your parents - it will help them make sure your school has everything they need.

If you aren’t feeling well during a game or practice, tell your coach right away. This can be hard for me because I want to keep playing, but it’s really important that we take care of our diabetes. Then when we feel better, we can start playing again.

Friends

You might be the only kid with diabetes in your school, so it can make you feel very different. I am the only lion in my pack who has diabetes and I’m always getting asked things like “Why do you have diabetes?,” “What is that thing?,” “Can you eat sugar?” I bet you hear this a lot, too.

Most people don’t know much about diabetes so it is a good idea to tell your close friends a little about diabetes. They should know what the signs of low blood sugars are, and what they can do to help if you need it. Telling them about diabetes also helps them understand the things you have to do so that they can encourage and support you. That always makes me feel good.

Sometimes it is just nice to talk to someone else with diabetes like you. You can share and talk without worrying about anyone thinking you are different. There are lots of online communities of people with diabetes just like you. There are also camps for kids with diabetes where you can meet other kids who have diabetes, hang out and do all sorts of fun activities.

Doctor

The good thing about talking to doctors is that they do know a lot about diabetes. You need to make sure to tell them what has been going on with your diabetes so that they can help you. Tell them about what went well, but also what hasn’t been going so good. Sometimes kids make up blood sugars so that they can show their doctor how good they have been doing. But this really doesn’t help you. It is so much better to be honest so that your doctor can find ways to help you. If you have any questions about diabetes, always ask. There are no stupid questions and the more you learn the better.

Family / Caregivers

Sometimes it seems like parents are always asking you about your diabetes, but it is only because they really do care about you. It is important to share with them, just like your doctor, where you are doing well but also where you are having problems. Diabetes can make you angry, scared, and sad and that is normal. Your family can be great to talk to about all these feelings. Remember, it is not your fault that you have diabetes, it’s nobody’s fault.

Your parents really do want to help. Sometimes when my mom asked me what my blood sugar was, I would just make up a number to make her happy. But then I decided that it wasn’t helpful for anyone. I worked with my mom and together we decided that we would sit down at the end of the day and look at my readings together instead of talking about them all day long. Maybe something like this would work for you and your parents too. Of course parents aren’t usually the only ones involved. Brothers and sisters, grandparents, and babysitters also need to know a lot about your diabetes too. I’m happy that I have people that care about me and want to help me take good care of my diabetes. I hope you feel that way too.

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