Diabetes Is Your Own Disease

Today we hear from 14-year-old Claire Montgomery, founder and writer of her own blog where she writes about the many changes over the past few years, including being diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and moving to Mexico. She talks to us today about the lessons she has learned since her diagnosis and the importance of being able to take more responsibility for her own diabetes management now that she’s growing up – an important lesson for many tweens and teens growing up with diabetes.

I was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2007 when I was 10-years-old. We’ve been through a lot, diabetes and me. I’ve finished elementary school and started middle school, become a teenager (I’m now 14), started using the insulin pump and the continuous glucose monitor, and most recently moved to Mexico with my family. You could probably say that I’ve been through more than a lot with diabetes.

Because of diabetes, I’ve learned gobs of lessons including how to stick a needle in your butt and that blood glucose meters die if they are submerged in water. But the most important lesson that I’ve learned is that if you have diabetes, even though your family probably helps you a lot, you eventually have to take control of diabetes yourself. Trust me, I speak from experience.

One such experience was during the summer before seventh grade when I attended an over-night Girl Scout camp. My dad tends to worry whenever he sends me anywhere without people who are “experts” in diabetes. I usually think that he should just stop worrying because I can take care of myself. But you know how dads are, so we talked to the camp nurse.

She was really nice and said that she could help me count carbs if needed and could help me with pump sites (I couldn’t do them by myself then). Hopefully Dad was reassured. She seemed to be a diabetes-hip person, right?

Well, as the week rolled by, it was soon obvious that the camp nurse was not as hip to diabetes as expected. She knew the right vocabulary, but didn’t know how to apply it. This type of situation can be dangerous if you don’t know how to manage your diabetes on your own.

Although she tried very hard to be helpful, she didn’t really understand how to help me. For example, if my blood sugar was a little high or a little low, she would freak out and just tell me to lie down. Also, she thought that I should eat completely sugar free. Clearly she hadn’t hung out much with people with type-1 diabetes.

The good thing is that my doctors and parents had taught me how to use my Bolus Wizard to give me insulin if I’m running too high and how much food to eat if I was low. And, of course, I can have stuff with sugar in it as long as I bolus the right amount for it. I decided it was best to do as I normally do at home, based on what my doctors and parents had taught me. It didn’t solve everything, because even with the Bolus Wizard, I still need to keep an eye on my insulin levels and do finger sticks several times a day.

From then on, my blood sugars were under much better control. Meals were still tough though because the nurse would track me down to give me sugar free waffles even though everyone else was eating pancakes. I ignored the waffles anyway.

So, besides asking her for help with my site changes, I pretty much managed my diabetes on my own for the remainder of the week and I survived. If I hadn’t been so independent in counting carbs and knowing what to do with high blood sugars, that week probably would have been worse than it already was. (Sugar-free waffles anyone?)

But my point is, take care of yourself, and don’t put anyone else in charge of handling your diabetes for you. Sure, you definitely want to listen to your parents and doctor, but you have to be able to learn to take control when your parents aren’t around – especially when you start doing stuff like Girl Scout camp. Because diabetes is your own disease.

IMPORTANT SAFETY INFORMATION

– Medtronic Diabetes insulin infusion pumps, continuous glucose monitoring systems and associated components are limited to sale by or on the order of a physician and should only be used under the direction of a healthcare professional familiar with the risks associated with the use of these systems.
– Successful operation of the insulin infusion pumps and/or continuous glucose monitoring systems requires adequate vision and hearing to recognize alerts and alarms.

Medtronic Diabetes Insulin Infusion Pumps

– Insulin pump therapy is not recommended for individuals who are unable or unwilling to perform a minimum of four blood glucose tests per day.
– Insulin pumps use rapid-acting insulin. If your insulin delivery is interrupted for any reason, you must be prepared to replace the missed insulin immediately.

Medtronic Diabetes Continuous Glucose Monitoring (CGM) Systems

– The information provided by CGM systems is intended to supplement, not replace, blood glucose information obtained using a home glucose meter. A confirmatory fingerstick is required prior to treatment.
– Insertion of a glucose sensor may cause bleeding or irritation at the insertion site. Consult a physician immediately if you experience significant pain or if you suspect that the site is infected.

Please visit www.medtronicdiabetes.com/about/safety.html for complete safety information.

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