Thursday, June 16, 2016

My Tips for High School Students with Diabetes

As an official high school graduate, (and as a person that appreciates advice) I thought that it would be a good idea to share what I learned, diabetes-wise during high school. This includes anything from dealing with teachers and students to having fun. (And the crowd was shocked when they heard people with diabetes could have fun.) I hope these tips can help a few people out. Or just provide you with entertainment for the next couple of minutes.

1. Introduce Yourself
Seriously. Go introduce yourself (and your diabetes) to the school nurse and all of your teachers at open house or during the first few weeks of school. Having a school plan and supplies in the nurse's office will make your life and her life easier if anything ever happens to you/ if you're having a really bad blood sugar day. My school nurse usually emailed my teachers to let them know I was diabetic, but I also took it upon myself to introduce myself to my new teachers. I would always do this because teachers often skim through emails and it's a lot easier to put a name to a face when you introduce yourself, rather than by looking through an email and roster.

2. Get a 504 Plan
Not having a 504 plan is one of the (many) mistakes I made in high school. Luckily, I didn't ever need one at school because my teachers were very understanding about my blood sugars and didn't mind if I had to take a test at another date or time because of an awful high or low. I recommend a 504 plan because if you ever want to apply for accommodations for standardized testing, or if you have a less-than-understanding teacher. If you want accommodations to allow for extra breaks due to blood sugar issues during your SAT or ACT, they will ask for legal proof of your disability and the accommodations you already receive at your school for testing; it is so much easier to apply for these when you already have a 504 in place. You can find info about making your own 504 plan from Children with Diabetes and Beyond Type 1.

3. Figure out a spiel, if you want to answer people's diabetes questions
Tons of people will see your pump, look at your CGM site, and watch you test your blood, and some of these people will have questions. If you don't want to answer their questions, you can just tell them you don't feel comfortable talking about it. If you're fine answering questions, come up with a short blurb that explains what this whole diabetes thing is and what your devices do. Mine goes something like this:
"I'm a type 1 diabetic, which means that my body can't convert the food I eat into energy, so I give myself my insulin, medicine that allows my body to do this conversion through my pump. I test my blood so I know how much insulin I need to take, along with using a CGM. My CGM is a tiny device with a wire under my skin that tests my blood sugar every five minutes and this displays on my receiver. It tells me what my blood sugar is and if it rising or falling, which helps me figure out what I should eat and how much insulin I can give. Any questions?"
Short-ish and simple. (Kinda...) Having this little speech already in the back of your mind makes it easy to explain everything to the general public, without using up too much of your own time.

4. Take advice from the boy scouts and be prepared
There will seriously be days when your pump site leaks, your blood sugar is through the roof, and your parents won't be able to bring extra insulin/ sites/ shots. Learn from the billion times I forgot to bring extras to school, (I may be the most forgetful person I know. Oops.) and keep an extra site change, shots, insulin, and glucose tabs with you. Throw them in your locker, backpack, purse, or leave them in the nurse's office so you'll always be prepared for the worst.

5. Know your limits and respect them
Recognize the point when you can no longer focus in class, take a test, or properly study due to your blood sugar and figure out what to do about it. Ask to go up to the nurse, so you can get your blood sugar up or down and be able to step away without getting too worked up over it. I tried to stick it out my physics class when my blood sugar starting going low and let me tell you, it didn't work out well. (Learning about the intricacies of torque while having a blood sugar of 60 just doesn't work.)

6. Learn how to react to people's words
Sometimes people, even your friends, can make a comment that suddenly puts you in an awful mood because it reminds you that you are the different, diabetic one. Most people don't realize how harmful their words are and end up making some pretty dumb commentary on diabetes and the things people with diabetes have to do. If your friends or others consistently say stuff that is rude and hurtful, call them out on it and ask (preferably nicely) for them to stop. If they don't, they really aren't worth spending your time with.

7. Remember that most people won't make diabetes a big deal
Unless you are constantly bringing up your diabetes, people usually won't care at all about it. Of course, know that sometimes making a deal out of it (if you need to slow down because of high or low blood sugar) is necessary and okay. You shouldn't feel bad about your own self care.

8. Find a support system
Having a group of people you can vent to about diabetes, without having to explain the entire backstory of diabetes to is vital. Talk to camp friends, go on twitter, instagram, or tumblr and search through #diabetes to find someone to talk to. Everyone needs friends to help them get through the worst of DKA/ diabetes burnout/ life with diabetes in general so find these friends and stick with them.

9. Don't take diabetes too seriously
High school is stressful enough as it is, and adding in diabetes to the mix can make it even worse. Don't worry about having bad blood sugar days or the high you get after going out to an amazing restaurant with friends. Don't forget to cover your food, but don't forget to have fun too. Find a cute bag to throw your diabetes stuff in, (I'm partial to this bag from Myabetic or this clutch from Prikkedeif) cover your devices with cute stickers from PumpPeelz, (I love the citrus print, these cute blue flowers, or the option for your own custom skin), and hold your site in place with a cute seahorse. Do fun stuff and don't let diabetes be something that stops you. High school is a time to have fun, (and of course to do schoolwork to get into college) so take advantage of that.

Now that you've read through these, do you have anything to add? Or could you do your girl (aka me) a favor and give me some tips for surviving college with diabetes, since that will be my next endeavor?

P.S. I totally wasn't sponsored by any of the companies I linked to in this article; (even though I would love to be!) I just love their products and wanted to pass them on to others.

1 comment:

  1. I like your list and i think the parents and kids on will as well. So I referred your blog to our blog page for the week of June 13, 2016.


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