Managing Type 1 Diabetes as a Teen

Many teens struggle with achieving good type 1 diabetes management as they gain independence and responsibility for their own health. One teen dealing with this issue wrote to the Online Diabetes Support Team and received the following response.

Q: I have diabetes for about 7 years now and am still finding it difficult to adjust. I just want to forget about it and not have to do my blood tests. I fear that when I do them and there is this really high number, my parents will get upset. I know they are doing it because they care about me, but it is tiring. I just really need some advice on how to try control my diabetes.

A: My name is Kelly and I’m one of the volunteers at JDRF. I want to start by telling you I can’t offer any medical or legal advice. I can only offer advice from my experience with living with diabetes myself. I’ve personally lived with diabetes since I was 7, which means I have had it for 13 years in total.

I know how horrifically difficult it can be to manage this disease. I still have a good deal of bad blood sugars after all this time, but I am always struggling to try and keep them at a normal range for my health. Unfortunately, we do not have the luxury of forgetting about this disease because the results are devastating. We cannot allow this disease to control us, instead we must do all we can to control it, including testing.

I am sorry to hear you are having trouble with your parents. I would try and have them sit down with you to talk about how you are feeling. Explain that you are scared about testing because you fear they will react negatively and that this is only going to make your blood sugars worse, if you no longer test because of fear. Tell them that this is NOT your fault and that our bodies frequently do not control our blood sugars despite our best efforts. Especially during the teen years and early adulthood, things are in a state of constant flux. I know I can personally have a high blood sugar after breakfast one day, and a low one the next, with no logical explanation. It can be so infuriating, but I know that just forgetting about it would only make me feel worse. I’m sure your parents care, too. Just try and explain to them that they need to approach things in a different manner. Let them know that high numbers are something that will happen in your day to day life and that their getting upset doesn’t make matters better.

Also, if you are not currently using an insulin pump I would highly recommend it! It is something that really changed my life around and made my diabetes become an even smaller part of my life. The pump is the closest thing to complete control that has been invented. It allows you to eat when you want and to administer insulin whenever you need to. Instead of 5-7 shots a day, it is only 1 insertion every 3-4 days! You can have so much more freedom. There are still those times, though, after a long night of homework when I just wish I could go to bed and skip changing out the location of my pump with yet another injection, but I have to keep reminding myself how important my health is. I know that without the pump and insulin, I wouldn’t be alive today. With the pump you can set up something called a basal rate which allows you to always be getting a constant drip of insulin, as if your own body was making it for you to keep your blood sugars balanced. Here is a website to help inform you
more about the pump if you are interested – http://insulin-pumpers.org/.

Oh, one more thing you may be interested in is a Continuous Glucose Monitor. Here is a comparison of what is offered currently – http://www.diabetesnet.com/diabetes_technology/continuous_monitoring.php. This might be something that will be perfect for you but you will have to talk to your doctor about it more. I personally do not have one so can’t offer much advice. I am not a fan of the double insertions (one for my pump and another for the monitor) so opted out of getting one until it was either non-invasive or came in one insertion. If that is not a big hassle for you though, it would probably be a great tool for managing your blood sugars. There are even pumps and glucose monitors that work together so you have less work to keep up with!

I hope this information helps. Please feel free to reach out to me again at any time!