Living With T1D
My youngest brother Luke has been living with Type 1 diabetes since he was diagnosed at age 5. He is now in high school and wears an insulin pump. It’s often intimidating and even scary for those who are first diagnosed, especially for young kids. That is why I asked Luke to do an interview with me to give encouragement and support to anyone living with juvenile diabetes.
- How did you feel when you first found out you had diabetes? Very very confused. I was five, so all I remember is going to the hospital and then having my mom explain to me that I had diabetes. Everyone was really supportive about it. My late grandfather had it, and my aunt has it, so it wasn’t unfamiliar to my family.
- How long have you been on the insulin pump? A few years now, I first got the insulin pump in April 2004.
- What are some of the advantages of wearing the pump rather than getting insulin shots? What would you say are the disadvantages? Ultimately, the insulin pump is less expensive in the long-run, as well as being environmentally-friendly. The pump also isn’t as painful, because I don’t need to get individual shots each time I need insulin. There is less of a chance for air bubbles, too. Even though malfunctions are not uncommon, they are rare. Still, the pros outweigh the cons.
- How often do you have to test your blood sugar throughout the day with the finger pricker? On a good day, about 6 times – when I wake up, before meals and again before I go to bed.
- Does it hurt? At first it hurt a little, but now needles don’t bother me; I have become so used to them. Sometimes my fingers will feel a little sore, so I have to remember to prick a different finger each time.
- Do you ever wish you didn’t have diabetes? At times yes, but there are always positive sides to “bad” situations. Living with diabetes has made me aware of the damages of an unhealthy life style, plus there are much worse things out there. I think the older you are diagnosed though, the harder it is to accept.
- When your blood sugar is high, what are some of the symptoms you experience? The most common symptom is extreme thirst; I also feel irritable and can’t really concentrate very well.
- How do you feel when you are low? When I’m low, I usually feel very weak and hungry.
- Are you ever embarrassed to have diabetes? When I was younger I sometimes felt embarrassed, but now so many people are aware of diabetes, that there is no reason to feel that way.
- How do you respond when someone asks you about diabetes and your pump? I rarely get asked about either, but when I am, I answer honestly and tell them the truth: “My pancreas doesn’t work the same as yours, so this pump gives my body insulin to help me.”
- Does diabetes prevent you from doing anything that a regular teenager does? Nope. As long as I am responsible with my diabetes and control my blood sugar, then there are no restrictions at all.
- What is your favorite healthy snack? I enjoy eating peanut butter on apple slices or celery, but I think my all time favorite healthy snack is salad with a bunch of vegetables. I like to use oil and apple cider vinegar as my dressing. It tastes really good, and the apple cider vinegar is known to help regulate insulin in your body.
- Do you think a strong support system is important when living with T1D? Absolutely! Any kind of support system is important, even if it is just an online support group or your school nurse. My friends and family have always been there for me, and it helps a lot.
- Do you agree that living with this disease has helped make you into a more responsible, health-conscious person? Definitely, I am aware of what foods I am putting in my mouth and how much insulin I have to give myself. I pay attention to food labels, so I can keep track of how many carbohydrates they have. And I avoid sugary drinks, which aren’t good for anyone anyway. It also helps that my entire family loves eating healthy, too.
- Do you wear a medical bracelet? Yes. My skin is sensitive to metals that typical bracelets have, so I wear a rubber bracelet that has my name and ’insulin dependent’ engraved in the middle.
For anyone that has been diagnosed with diabetes, maintaining an active and healthy lifestyle will keep you going in the right direction. Many people are there for you if you ever have trouble controlling, getting used to, or even living with someone who has diabetes. Just hang in there and stay positive, because a cure is coming. In the mean time, keep healthy, active, and safe. – Luke