Diabetic Teen Laura C. – By Cassie S., Canfield, OH

We are entering the New Year and it is a time for looking forward.  Normally, the information contained here is original; however, the following information about a teenage girl named Laura gives positive insight into the life of a young person with diabetes.  Laura’s answers and ideas are honest and full of grace.  I hope they will bring information and hope to you, even if only a little. Here is the reprint of the article/interview: 

Laura is one of my good friends. I really admire her. She has diabetes but still lives the life of a normal teenager. She has to deal with all the struggles of diabetes along with those of life.

What exactly is diabetes?
There are two types of diabetes. I have type one. My body attacked my pancreas and it stopped producing ¬insulin.

What does insulin do?
Insulin allows sugars from food into the cells. If there is no insulin, there is too much sugar in the blood.

How does diabetes affect your diet?
At first, I had to eat foods that were sugar free. Then, I got a new doctor and he put me on an insulin pump. This ¬allows me to eat a wider range of foods but in moderation.

How does diabetes affect your physical activities?
When my blood sugar is good, it doesn’t affect me at all. When it is too high, I get very distracted, tired, and thirsty. When my blood sugar is low, I either get really tired or hyper.

Is diabetes hard to regulate?
Some days it is easy; some days it’s hard. It depends on my surroundings. My mood, the weather, anything I eat, and when I am sick are just a few things that determine if it will be hard to regulate that day.

What happens if your blood sugar gets way too high or way too low?
Luckily, I have never been too high. When it gets too high, you go into a ¬coma. When it’s too low, you have seizures. That has happened to me six or seven times. I am told that I clamp my teeth really tight. I don’t really ¬remember what happens. When I wake up there are usually paramedics surrounding me. I have also blacked out three or four times because my levels have been too low.

Who can get diabetes?
It is mostly genetic. Type 2 ¬diabetes usually affects people who are overweight or are older.

How does diabetes affect your ¬overall life?
It affects me every day because I have to go through stresses and irritations that come with it. When I work hard and control my blood sugar, it isn’t bad at all.

Is diabetes curable?
There are many cures being tested. They are ¬getting very close to a cure. But right now, there are just ways to treat the disease.

How will diabetes affect you in the future?
My college life will probably be ¬different. I will not be able to drink ¬alcohol. I will have to adopt a respon¬sible lifestyle.

As a diabetic, are there extra ¬precautions you must take?
Yes, everywhere I go I have to bring my testing supplies. I also have to make sure I have some kind of food with me. I test myself before driving or doing something that requires my full attention.

How old were you when you were diagnosed and how did you find out?
I was eight years old. For about a week I felt sick and I would have cravings for pop and sugary foods. I would always sleep. As soon as I tried to eat, I had no appetite. So, my mom scheduled a doctor’s appointment for me.

What happened the first time your blood sugar got too low?
My sister and I were playing hangman outside. I kept telling her I felt dizzy. She didn’t think anything of it. My sister told me to guess a letter so I said, “I guess H.” She said it was wrong. For some reason I didn’t care. I kept repeating “I guess H.” When we went inside the house my mom had ¬dinner ready. I threw the food on the floor and started running around the house screaming “I guess H!” When I came to, I couldn’t even remember playing hangman.

Have you ever felt embarrassed about your diabetes?
I usually don’t get embarrassed about it. There was, though, one time in sixth grade. My mom decided it would be a good idea to educate my peers about ¬diabetes. We went from class to class and I sat on a stool in the front of the room. My mom would point to me and say, “This is Laura. She has diabetes.” Some classes weren’t too bad; the kids seemed uninterested. The most embarrassing time was when kids asked questions at the end. I will always remember one kid asking, “What should I do if Laura runs out into the street?” It was probably the most embarrassing moment of my life.

This piece has also been published in Teen Ink’s monthly magazine.

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