Talking about your diabetes can be hard,
but friends may be more understanding
than you think.
It's often best to tell people that you have diabetes. But how do you handle it?
Most diabetes educators and experts agree that it's a good idea to tell people you have diabetes. This is not only for your own safety but also because diabetes is nothing to be ashamed of.
Most of them also know, however, that it's not the easiest thing to talk about.
Make Two Lists
Jean Betschart is a diabetes book author and nurse practitioner who works with kids in Pennsylvania. She has a great suggestion to help.
Betschart believes that if you accept that everybody really doesn't have to know, it leaves you free to decide who really does. She says to make two lists: the "Need to Know" people and the "Nice to Know" people.
"Need to Know" people include teachers, coaches, and close friends. These are the people who really need to know you have diabetes in case you have low blood sugar and need help. "Nice to Know" people are other folks you might just feel like telling because they're friends or because they ask a lot of questions about the things they see you doing.
While Out With the Gang
When you're out with a bunch of friends, especially new friends, you may want to tell them about your diabetes, too. Betschart suggests that you prepare yourself with "sound bites"—quick explanations of what it is you're doing ("Checking my blood sugar") and why you're doing it ("To see how much insulin I have to take").
Sometimes that's all the other kids want to know. But sometimes it leads to more questions or comments like, "My grandmother has diabetes!" Either way, you can tell them more about diabetes by answering their questions or saying something like, "There are two kinds of diabetes, and your grandmother may have the other kind."
Joining a New Team
When you're playing a sport, where there's a high risk of low blood sugar, your coach and teammates should be "Need to Know," starting with your coach.
You could ask the coach to tell the team about your diabetes. Or you could handle it yourself. Explain that you can still fully take part in the sport, but there are certain things you have to do, like carry carbohydrate snacks. You could describe your own signs of low blood sugar and say, "If you see me acting like that, I'm probably having low blood sugar and need you to tell the coach."
Respecting Your Own "Comfort Zone"
Everyone has his or her own level of comfort when talking about diabetes. Not everyone has to know, but some should know. When you're deciding who to tell, it all comes down to the idea that your safety is the most important thing. So ask yourself, "Am I safe if this person doesn't know?" If the answer is no, work up the courage to tell him or her. If the answer is yes, then you can comfortably carry on as you have been doing.