For Kids Ages 9 to 11: Dealing with Diabetes
Your healthcare provider says that you have diabetes. This is why you may have been feeling sick. But you can learn how to live with diabetes and feel better. Having diabetes isn’t your fault! It does mean making some changes in your life. You might feel like there’s a lot to learn. But diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things you like to do.
You’re not alone
Finding out that you have diabetes can be hard. But you don’t have to face it alone. Lots of people will help you. Your helpers are called your “diabetes team.” The team may include your parents, brothers and sisters, and your family healthcare provider. There are also some special team members who know a lot about diabetes. These people are:
An endocrinologist or “endo.” This is a healthcare provider who treats children with diabetes.
A dietitian. A dietitian teaches you about the best foods for you to eat and how food affects your blood sugar.
A diabetes educator. A diabetes educator is someone like a nurse, pharmacist, occupational therapist, or social worker. He or she teaches you how to manage your blood sugar.
A pediatrician or family healthcare provider. This is a healthcare provider who takes care of any other health problems, which is often referred to as primary care.
A pharmacist. This person fills the prescriptions for your diabetes medicines.
A podiatrist. This healthcare provider deals with any complications of the feet.
A dentist. This healthcare provider makes sure your teeth are as healthy as they can be.
An ophthalmologist. This healthcare provider watches for eye problems related to diabetes.
Be a diabetes detective
You’ll see your diabetes team members often. It’s their job to help you learn about diabetes. But the most important person who can help you is YOU! You can become a diabetes detective. A diabetes detective looks for clues about what’s happening in his or her body. This means doing things like checking your blood sugar and writing down the numbers. Then, you can help your parents figure out how much insulin you need. Being a diabetes detective will help you stay healthier and feel better. Diabetes detective work might seem hard. But you don’t have to be good at all this stuff right away. Don’t be afraid to ask a grownup for help when you need it. With practice, you’ll be a great detective!
Taking care of your blood sugar at school
Your teachers and other adults at school will learn how to help you. By the time you talk to them, you may already know more about diabetes than they do!
First, your parents will meet with your teachers. They will need to decide who will help you with your insulin shots.
Your parents will explain that you need to check your blood sugar often. Talk with your parents and teachers to find out where the best place blood sugar testing should be done. Make sure you have a source of glucose (sugar) available. So if you are low, you can eat or drink something right away.
Taking care of your blood sugar in class means you can feel better and keep up with your schoolwork. And it means you won’t have to stop playing sports and being active at school. Always wear your medical alert ID. That way, in case of an emergency, people will know you have diabetes. Know where your daily and emergency diabetes supplies are stored. Set a good example by always safely disposing of any used diabetes equipment.
Like food and insulin, being active can help you manage your blood sugar. Activity, such as playing sports or riding a bike, can help keep your blood sugar from getting too high. But too much activity can sometimes make your blood sugar fall too low. That’s why it’s important to check your blood sugar more often when you are active. You may also need to adjust how much insulin you take when you are active. Your diabetes team can tell you how.
Your friends can help; ups and downs are normal
You don’t have to talk about diabetes with anyone unless you want to. But your friends might have questions. Try not to get mad, even if their questions seem silly. Before you had diabetes, you probably didn’t know much about it either. Many kids find that telling their friends about their diabetes can help. Your true friends are the ones who support you in taking care of yourself. If your friends know about your diabetes, they can act as your “backup” detectives. They can learn the signs of low blood sugar. Then, if you are acting “low,” they can get an adult to help.
There will be times when you feel totally on top of things. But sometimes, you may feel really tired of dealing with diabetes. When this happens, don’t give up! Ask for help. Your diabetes team is there to help you find ways to make things easier. You don’t have to be perfect. You can make changes to your plan and still be healthy. You might want to ask your parents about going to a diabetes camp. It’s a place to hang out and have fun with other kids who have diabetes. They understand what you’re going through because they’re going through it, too.
To learn more
For more information about diabetes, visit these websites:
American Diabetes Association www.diabetes.org/youthzone
Children with Diabetes www.childrenwithdiabetes.org
Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation www.kids.jdrf.org