Jessica

Finding what works for you

I am 14 and I've had Type 1 diabetes for nearly 10 years now. Because I was so little when I got it, having diabetes never really bothered me that much. I haven't known anything different, so it's not hard to lead the life I lead now. Sure, there were ups and downs, but the more experience we have, the stronger the person we become.

Picture posed by a modelI was on two injections a day and regular blood tests for about seven-and-a-half years, but when I moved up to Senior school, my routine for eating and my extra commute and walking around meant my blood sugars went all over the place. I think I once had five hypos in one week! Talking to my doctor about it, he said that the two injections a day wasn't working out for me anymore, and he increased my injections to four a day, saying it was training for 'carb counting' as I was the ideal candidate for an insulin pump.

Coping with carb counting

Four injections a day was not easy. It wasn't the whole, "Omigod, I have two more needles to poke in myself now, what am I going to do?" Like I said, I'd had diabetes for seven-and-a-half years, and I was well used to feeling like a human pin cushion sometimes. The trouble was the carb counting. For those of you who don't know, carb counting is when you have to count how many carbohydrates you have in a meal, or a snack, and then convert that to a dosage of insulin. It is very important to get right; if you have too much insulin, you can have a hypo, too little insulin and your blood sugar gets abnormally high and, for me, that means I get grouchy and moody and stress out and often cause arguments with my friends.

Having high blood sugar is a very lonely place to be; you're too uncomfortable to relax and enjoy the day, you're too frustrated for no reason whatsoever to get along with your friends, and so most of the time, you end up sitting alone and feeling like the bottom of the rubbish heap because everyone is too scared to talk to you. The worst part is, some of the time, you don't even realise that you have high blood sugar and so you don't think to do anything about it.

Life on the pump

Eventually, I got used to it, and with a fairly consistent record of good blood sugars, my doctor decided that I was ready for an insulin pump. I remember him saying to me at the appointment before I got it, "With the insulin pump, it's a love-hate thing. Although it is a fantastic device, and if used properly and monitored regularly, you can have consistently good blood sugars, some people decide that they hate having it attached to themselves because it reminds them every hour of every day that they are someone with diabetes, which is something you don't get with injections. However, some people say that they can't believe they ever managed to get by without one. If you take your time with it, and give it a good trial period, then you decide yourself whether you like it or not."

Luckily, I was one of the ones who loved it, and ever since then I haven't gone back to injections. Sometimes it is embarrassing to have it on, like in the changing rooms at school, and its an awkward object to have on when you're getting changed. At first everyone in my class was curious as to what it was, but gradually, as time has gone by, it's just become something that's there, and not something weird at all.

What works for you?

I think an important part of diabetes is finding a way to treat it that suits you. For me, I was perfectly happy on two injections a day, but I couldn't go on having hypos all the time. I hated being on four injections a day. It made it harder to do blood tests because you felt like there was always a needle poking about some part of you, and it didn't suit my needs to keep my blood sugar under control. My insulin pump, although there are the highs and lows and there's always that little period of an hour or two after you have changed the canula and reconnected it to yourself that you panic about whether the canula is bent and whether the insulin can get through, after that, it's great! My blood sugars are now a lot better, and my friends have noticed a change within my personality too – I'm not mean and moody anymore!!

Trust in yourself and your doctors

However, more importantly, I think you just need to be happy with yourself. Diabetes is not nice to have, especially when you are young and are still dealing with growing up and adjusting yourself into the world, but I think that if you are patient and take a little time to get used to what you have, then it's pretty easy to live a normal life.

To all of you out there who are newly diagnosed or are worried about your treatment for whatever reason, then talk to your doctor!! They can give you a lot of advice about better ways to manage it, and offer a lot of support. In my experience, they do worry if injecting yourself or having an insulin pump is not working out, because it feels like a failure on their behalf. They are there to look after you.

Thank you if you have read this far without getting bored – I know some of this seems like I'm rambling!!! Good luck, and hang in there!! :D

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Your comments

"Hi, I was diagnosed 2 days ago (I'm 15) and I already want to go on a pump! I started on 4 a day and glargene at night which hurts! It's good to know that loads of people my age are going through this too – it's good having your family and friends there, but it's better having someone who can empathise :) x" – Maria

"I am 13 and I have had diabetes for 4 years, I got really ill when I was being diagnosed and was close to dying. My diabetes has still not settled and I nearky always have HIGH bloods. It too makes me grouchy and irrateted and makes me feel yuck! I'd love to talk to people my age who understand what it's like." – Bethan

"i have just joined this website, i'm 14 and have had diabetes for 9yrs i wld lv to chat to other teens. I'm finding coping with diabetes difficult at the moment particulary havin to do more blood tests than i wld like" – Chloe

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