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Advice for people with diabetes and their families

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Charlotte's story: having someone to talk to really helps

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Charlotte

Diagnosed age 10.

I want to live in the moment, but then I also have to be careful, whereas none of my school friends do.

Diagnosed with type 1 aged 10, Charlotte shares her experience of how meeting other people with diabetes has really helped her in times of need.

Diagnosis

Charlotte's journey with diabetes

  • Diagnosed with type 1 aged 10
  • Joined support group and made friends with other children with diabetes
  • Going on a trip to Botswana in 2019 to share experiences with other type 1s and improve local diabetes clinic

 

Dealing with diagnosis

I didn’t really know what diabetes was when I was first diagnosed, so I just felt slightly confused by it. I was still in primary school at the time so it was a bit easier because I had familiar teachers and they learnt all about diabetes. All of my friends were fine with it too. 

It’s kind of weird because it’s not how everyone explains it. At first, I felt like “This is fine, it’s just another thing to do”, then I felt like I didn't want to do it anymore but I had to. Now it’s starting to get a bit easier again. 

Life with diabetes

Support from friends and family

I have got to know a good group of friends with type 1 diabetes through our local support group called the East of England Children and Young People Diabetes Network. I find it really helpful having people to talk to about how I’m feeling.

There are five of us in my group of friends and they’re the only people I know who have diabetes too. There are problems and things that come up that I can’t really talk about with anyone else apart from them. The fact that I have someone to talk to really helps and I don’t think it would be as easy without that.

In Easter 2019, I’m going on a trip to Botswana organised by the East of England network to meet other children with type 1 and help improve their local diabetes clinic among other things. I’m quite excited about going and being away from home. I’ve never been further than Europe, so that’s quite a big thing for me. It's a huge challenge raising the money to go! It’s also something I wouldn’t have been able to do if it wasn’t for having diabetes.

We’ve been learning about what it’s like for children with diabetes in Botswana and that’s why I think it’s so important we go. I know how much of a struggle having diabetes is – at school, with friends and generally looking after it – but I couldn’t really imagine having the additional problems they have.

I really want to get involved and help to change it. It’s also a great opportunity for me to look after my diabetes all by myself.

 

Biggest challenge

Now I’m in secondary school, I’m doing a lot more things on my own. But I have to be careful with my blood sugar and make sure I’m doing the right things, and think about what might happen later on if I don’t. That’s probably the hardest thing because I want to live in the moment, but then I also have to be careful, whereas none of my school friends do.

 

Diet, nutrition and active living 

I learned to carb count soon after I was diagnosed. It was really good in my opinion because now I can do it all by myself and I think it’s helped me to become more independent with my diabetes. The way I was taught was good and I found it really easy to get my head around.

When I do PE at school, if I know it is going to involve lots of action, I will test first and take a glucose tablet. Other times I may put on a TBR (temporary basal rate). It can be frustrating having to do it every time, but I know how to do it so it gets done quickly.

 

What has helped me most?

Quite a few things have helped, like the hospital and all the things I have that I can read. Also, all of my friends and the people who have supported me are really helpful because you need mental support as well. And having my other diabetic friends and being able to go on diabetic camps.

 

Useful resources

I was given the Carbs & Cals book for carb counting, various magazines and lots of links to websites and phone numbers for the whole diabetes team, so we were definitely not short of help!

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