Being "the kid with diabetes"
Most kids would be thrilled to get out of class early or be late for a class without getting in trouble, but that isn't the case for kids with type 1 diabetes. It makes them feel different, and reminds them that they have extra responsibilities other kids don't have. Emily, 14, of New Jersey, hates to be late for lunch because she's checking her blood sugar and bolusing insulin. Not only does she miss out on fun time with friends, she's also late for her classes after lunch, which draws unwanted attention and causes her to miss important information.
Henry, age 6 and newly diagnosed with diabetes, doesn't like to miss class time either. It gets him down when he has to go to the nurse's office for his shots. Eight-year-old Noelle's advice to Emily and Henry is to remember that they are not alone and there are a lot of kids out there to offer support. "Although your life seems crazy right now, things will get easier," she says.
But it's not just about being late or leaving class. For Leah, 17, it is about not using her diabetes as an excuse, because she doesn't want anyone to treat her differently. Okay, she admits, she might occasionally use the "diabetes card" to get out of an undesirable task, but very, very rarely.
A couple of years ago, Leah prepared for her first homecoming date. She had her hair and nails done professionally. She bought a new formal dress. She was full of excitement. As she was getting ready, questions went through her head like, "What kind of dancer is he?" and "What will we talk about at dinner? Will I have fun?" She also considered when she'd be able to sneak away to check her blood sugar. She had to ask herself, "What if I get low when I am dancing?" and "What if my level is too high and I need water?"
Leah explains these thoughts and fears by comparing her life to an onion: she has all these layers of things that complicate her life, like going to dances, parties, and school, getting her homework finished, and dealing with her parents. "Then there's diabetes," she says, which adds an extra layer to everything. She has the worries of every other teenager and then the added worries of diabetes. Looking at her diabetes as just another layer helps her put her life into perspective.