Teen Topic 36:   How do you deal with dating or crushes?  Do you tell them about your diabetes?  How much do you tell, and when?  Do you worry they will feel differently if they know about your T1?

Cameron (age 17)
Most girls I have dated, I was friends with them beforehand. I wear an insulin pump, so it’s kind of obvious that I have diabetes (because most people don’t have a tube connected to their body). Most girls think having diabetes makes you extra cute, so I use it to my advantage.

Nick (age 19)
I may only be 19, but I’m currently engaged to my girlfriend of nearly 6 years. Letting her know about my diabetes was easy, because at the time she was just another classmate I was explaining to. I would often stand up on the first day of classes and talk to the whole class about it. I know that wouldn’t work in all circumstances, but I would recommend telling any potential crush at the beginning of the relationship. It makes things easier further along.

Claire (age 17)
I’m always 100% honest with my diabetes, to strangers or otherwise. Dating especially,because if something were to happen, they’d need to know.

Ashley B. (age 15)
I don’t date, but I do tell anyone that’s close to me about diabetes and how it affects me. The most common thing I tell them is how to recognize when I’m going high or low, and they eventually learn the difference between the two. If they treat me differently because I have diabetes, they wouldn’t be my friends.

Ian (age 14)
My girlfriend and I knew each other before we started dating, so I didn’t have to explain it to her whence we began going out. There are times when she’ll ask about certain things, and I’ll answer her. I am very fortunate, however, for when she first heard about it, she did quite a deal of research about it.

Lexi (age 15)
I’ve been in a relationship for almost 2 years, and he always reminds me to test my blood sugar when I eat something. Unless it’s school, then he completely forgets.

Jessica (age 20)
I tell every person that I come in contact with and will be around them for a prolonged period of time (i.e. in class, sports, etc). I think this is a vital part of our condition. It is our responsibility to inform others in case an emergency does occur. They need to be aware, know what to do, and be willing to help – crushes and dating is no exception. I do tell my boyfriends about my T1D and explain what I feel is sufficient for them to know and manage an emergency. Diabetes usually comes up in the course of conversation in one way or another; however, I do not force the subject. If they are curious, I explain as much as they would like – I am a pretty open person about my condition.

Jordan (age 18)
You should tell the person you’re dating that you have diabetes because they need to know what to do in the case of emergencies, and it’s not something you should feel embarrassed about.

Mercedes (age 16)
When I have a crush I make sure they know that I have diabetes. It’s important for them to know right away instead of them finding out. If they have a problem with it then you know that they aren’t the right person for you. I do worry that people will feel different, but if they do, they do.

Erin (age17)
My advice to anyone who has a crush or is dating someone is to be open about your diabetes, it tells a lot about the person such as if they care or not. Only tell the person as much as you are comfortable sharing, and tell them early on in the friendship/relationship. As far as worrying if they know about your T1D, only way to find if they feel differently is to just share that you are and take things from there. Take Chances.

Ashley C. (age 14)
Most of the time I’m friends with them first and so they know about it and most of the time they’re interested in it and like to change my site.
Skylyn (age 16)
I haven’t had any boyfriends or dated anyone but when I do, I will definitely tell them. Just like when meeting new friends, I don’t tell the second I meet them but as we become better friends, I tell them more and more. I don’t really worry about people treating me differently when they find out I have diabetes. If they do treat me differently or say rude things about it, then we obviously are not meant to be friends.

Laura (age 16)
My boyfriend really likes to keep in check with me when it comes to diabetes, always asking me how my sugar is, and when he was staying with me (we’re long distance) he’d ask if he could do anything or get anything for me when my sugar was high/low. I like keeping him up to date because it makes him feel better and it’s also nice venting about how frustrating diabetes can be. I used to be embarrassed about all the little beeps and alarms but I eventually learned that it’s a part of me and my lifestyle and if someone doesn’t accept it, then obviously they aren’t the right one for me.

Vanessa (age 15)
For the longest time I felt like if I told my boyfriend I had diabetes he would feel overwhelmed and not want to be with me anymore but then I dated my ex. He was so understanding and helped me with so much. He would check my blood sugar for me, he would make my shots for me, he would also get me food or juice if I needed it and he was always there for me and was my biggest supporter. He would come to meetings with me and would celebrate November (National Diabetes Awareness Month) with me. If you’re starting to date someone it’s hard to hide it especially if you go out to eat with them. You should never feel scared or embarrassed of your Diabetes. It’s a part of you and if they don’t accept that then they don’t need to be your boyfriend/ girlfriend.

***If you have any questions you would like to ask our teens, please email me at michelle.projectbluenovember@gmail.com .

Teen Topic 33: What is the most annoying thing about T1D?

 

Lexi (age 15)
My mom has tried a lot to get me to test at school or when at a friend’s house. Reminders, texts, even texting my friends to remind me, making me go to the nurse. I don’t find it annoying but constant repeats of little things that can affect my blood sugar can get on my nerves.

Laura (age 16)
Can everything be an answer? (Ha.) If I had to pinpoint one thing, I’d probably have to say the feeling of being dragged down by something that isn’t, I guess, physically there? I mean yes, it is physically there, but the people around me don’t really understand the extent of how diabetes affects me. It’s like I have shackles on my ankles and no one is aware of them other than myself.

Ashley C. (age 14)
All of it.

Jessica (age 20)
For me, the most annoying thing about T1D is facing the fact that I never feel 100%. Diabetes comes with many other health complications, some more minor than others. However, when I sit down to do homework and it takes me forever or can’t focus in class, I realize that it’s due to my blood sugars always fluctuating. Unlike other diseases where you can have “good days” and “bad days”, T1D typically comes with “good moments” and “bad moments”. In any one given day you feel good and bad, and this can change at any second. As a result, there is never one day or moment in time when I can say “I feel 100%!” and that is annoying and a difficult concept to explain to others.

Erin (age 17)
The high and low blood sugars.

Claire (age 17)
The most annoying thing is when people think I can’t have sugar and candy with my diabetes. It annoys me to the max.

Cameron (age 17)
The most annoying thing about T1D is what it feels like to be low. The feeling of being weak and having blurry vision is terrible. IT just makes me feel so uncomfortable and not like my usual self.

Ashley B. (age 15)
The most annoying thing to me about diabetes is the whole “Oh my god! Look, she’s doing drugs!” when you give a shot in public. Or maybe when a teacher tries to confiscate your “cell phone” because of a low cartridge.

Nick (age 19)
Leaking pump sites! I never know how much insulin I’ve actually received, so I have to guess how much more to do. So frustrating.

Ian (age 14)
Offensive diabetes jokes, and people saying ” so you ate too much sugar?” or” but you’re not fat.” or even ” my grandmother has diabetes” and then proceeding to tell me what to do as if they were an expert. But the worst of all is when they say, “Oh I wish I could eat candy and use that as an excuse” and they think that there’s nothing bad associated with T1D.

Mercedes (age 16)
The most annoying thing that people do is try and tell you about diabetes or try and tell you how you should live with your diabetes when they themselves don’t have diabetes.

Jordan (age 18)
The most annoying part of T1 is having to remember to test all the time.

Skylyn (age 16)
When it comes to diabetes, a lot of things can be annoying. One of the most annoying things though I think is when people say things like, “what would you like instead since you can’t have sweets” or ” wait, is it OK for you to eat that? I thought you weren’t allowed to have sweets” or “oh you’re a diabetic. You must have had a lot of sweets as a kid”. Like seriously people, get with the times! Just because I’m a diabetic doesn’t mean I can’t have sugar or that I had too much sugar in my childhood.

 

Teen Topic 35: This week’s question comes to us from the mom of a 10 year old: “How do you explain to your friends that sometimes when you are low or high you have less patience, get angry, or other mood symptoms? My son doesn’t want to blame his diabetes, but he would like them to understand.”

Cameron (age 17)
When I was younger, most of my friends already knew I had diabetes, and I usually didn’t act that different when I was low or high. But if I were in that situation, I would just tell them about my diabetes and the effects it can have on me. I mean it’s something you have to live with nor can you control it, so that’s what I would do.

Nick (age 19)
I’m not sure about 10 year olds, but I usually just tell people exactly what is going on. Sometimes, I get so hungry I feel like I’m literally starving. Other times, I have so much sugar in my blood I feel awful.

Claire (age 17)
Honestly, I blame the diabetes, because that’s the cause. There’s no reason to hide what it is.

Ashley B. (age 15)
I explain my symptoms to my friends when I start to go high or low. They’ll see the gradual change in my behavior and know if I need to eat or give a shot.

Ian (age 14)
I really can’t answer this one truthfully, because I don’t have many problems with mood caused by blood sugar. The one suggestion I do have is to make sure that blood sugar is a possible factor before blaming it. (i.e. if it is 130, then it’s probably not blood sugar)

Lexi (age 15)
For me, when I have a low blood sugar that’s when it affects my mood. I try to tell people that I’m having a sugar low and then I just stuff my face with food until I feel better.

Jessica (age 20)
I don’t recall if I have explained to friends that young how I felt and how my mood changes with high and low blood sugars other than “I don’t feel well”. However, I do use an analogy when I give speeches and talks which you may find useful and I recommend asking your kids if they feel the same. Diabetes is like a light dimmer switch: when my blood sugar is high, the dimmer is turned all the way up and the light is too bright, causing headaches and not feeling well. On the other hand, when my blood sugar is low, the dimmer is turned down and I feel lethargic (sometimes anxious or impatient). This analogy is free for any and all to use, as well as modify to your personal symptoms. Hope this helps!

Jordan (age 18)
You should just explain how when other people feel sick they don’t have the same patience, so when your blood sugar is off it’s like being sick and you don’t have patience.

Mercedes (age 16)
When your child is talking to a friend about his/her diabetes they can mention the signs of a low or a high and add in that they could be rude or upset at the time. So then they don’t have to explain it when it happens, they already know.

Erin (age 17)
I have anxiety and depression so it’s hard for my friends to understand how I act overall sometimes, and when my sugars are bad it’s even worse. I just talk through my feelings to my friends and those that care stay around and listen, others just leave if it’s too much for them to listen to. Your son could try explaining that sometimes he feels one way but is acting another way because of his diabetes, or just say tell his friends it’s been a hard day because my sugar is high or low. I’ve had to blame diabetes a few times, and people are very understanding of what is going on and offer support.

Ashley C. (age 14)
I tell my friends after it happens if my blood sugar was one of the extremes, and then I apologize for acting the way I did. Most of my friends understand and when they see me acting like that, they ask me to check.
Skylyn (age 16)
Well, sometimes you have to blame your diabetes. Maybe don’t be so serious about it but you have to tell them that sometimes when you have high or low blood sugars, your mood can change. Then they will understand and not be upset with you. They won’t know unless you tell them.
Laura (age 16)
I never explain to them while I’m having mood swings during the time period my sugar is being weird, but if I end up being really rude I usually apologize and explain that my sugar was out of whack when it happened. I don’t like blaming diabetes for when I act out of line either, but sometimes that really is the case and there’s no other explanation.

 

TEEN TOPIC 34: This question was given to the siblings of our teen panelists- How has Type 1 Diabetes affected YOUR life? Does it scare you? Do you resent it?

Nick (age 19, brother of Laura, age 16)
To be honest it hasn’t really affected me at all. As far as I’m concerned, diabetes hasn’t changed anything about my sister besides things like the sugar checking. So no, it doesn’t scare me and no I don’t resent it.

Aubrey (age 20, sister of Ashley C., age 15)
Type 1 Diabetes has affected my life in a positive way. I have grown closer to my sister, and it has taught me responsibility. I wouldn’t say it’s a good thing to have, but it teaches you to grow up and mature at a much younger age. I have learned to watch after my sister, how to give shots, how the insulin will affect your body, and much more. It has shown me a career that I would like to go into as well. It scared me at first, but now, I know it’s one of the most manageable diseases if you take care of it. I do no resent it in any way.  It has created a bond between my sister and I. I have a new found respect for diabetics. I didn’t even know there were 2 types of diabetes prior to my sister. I am now able to expand other people’s education on diabetes, too.

Andrew (age 20, brother of Cameron, age 15)
Type 1 Diabetes forced my little brother to grow up when he was only in second grade, for that reason alone, I do resent it. As far as how it has affected me, I think it’s actually made me a better brother. That sounds weird, but as an older brother, or as a sibling in general, you are the first line of support. Yeah, parents are great, but you are your sibling’s first best friend, so it is important that you are supportive of them. Cameron and I are close, so we go to each other for everything. It was, and still is, important that I be positive about diabetes even if I didn’t always understand or just simply hated it. This was part of his life, and, in turn, was part of my life. T1D used to scare me a lot more than it does now. From the time Cameron was first diagnosed, I had always been fearful that something bad was going to happen or that I could end up getting it (plus the glucagon just looks scary). However, I’m not afraid of it anymore. Cameron has shown that it is easily possible to have T1D and still live a normal life, and I think that I have learned enough in watching him that, if I was diagnosed right now, I could do the same.

Lucas (age 12, brother of Jordan, age 18)
It can be scary because if he were to give himself the wrong amount of insulin he could have serious side effects.  Sometimes it interrupts our playtime while we are having fun, when he goes low or has to check his sugar. Sometimes he’s not himself when he’s low (he needs a Snickers – LOL).

Meghan (age 14, sister of Claire, age 15)
Diabetes has not changed my life that much at all. Sure my sister wakes up in the middle of the night needing my help and sometimes has to eat beyond her consent, but we still got to play around when we were younger just like any siblings. We always secretly stole candies from the pantry. We always had the same, more or less, memories as anyone else. None of the possibilities that could happen to her scare me. We live in the now- and plus she and I know how to handle things.

Alex (age 22, brother of Nick, age 19)
I’m also diabetic, so my brother having it hasn’t really affected me. It’s not scary, and I can’t really resent it. Diabetes has affected me just as much as him.

Royce (age 19, brother of Mercedes, age 16)
I think it just affected my life in a good way. I have met some amazing people, and have gotten to help some.  I also feel it has made my sister and I closer. It doesn’t scare me because I know my sister has it and if she needs help she will ask. I don’t resent it because of the good it has brought to me.

Chace (age 15, brother of Ian, age 14)
I am not really afraid of type one, and I do not resent it. I am completely open about it. A bunch of my friends know and ask me questions about it, or just talk to Ian whenever they see him. They don’t treat him differently.  The jokes have stopped because they know Ian has it and they are now informed of what Type 1 is, because I have educated them.

Hannah (age 19, sister of Jordan, age 18)
Diabetes has affected my life, but I think for the better. It has made me a more caring person and helped me grow into the “mom” of whatever friend group I am occupying. Being the oldest, I always felt this need to make sure everyone had everything they needed, like a mom at a birthday party. When I was old enough to watch my younger siblings, I had to be the one making sure my brother ate enough and bolused correctly. Being in an environment of always checking on my brother and making sure he is medically healthy has helped me be who I am today. His diagnosis helped me decide at a young age that I wanted to help people and now I am studying biology at Boston College and plan to go to medical school. His diagnosis may have seemed terrible at first, but it has helped our entire family grow to be the helpful and caring people we are today.

Brandon (age 14, brother of Skylyn, age 16)
Type 1 diabetes doesn’t scare me.  I think I am just real protective of Skylyn.  I like to sometimes make sure she remembers to check if we are home alone together or if we are staying over at our cousin’s house.  I try to remember to carry candy with me sometimes if we take the dog for a walk or go to the park in case she has a low (although I forget sometimes). I just worry about her and want her to be okay.  I don’t resent anything as it’s not her fault.  I just wish my sister didn’t have type 1 diabetes and it makes me sad she does have it.  I like to support her by doing the JDRF walk every year.