By Mary Magiera, Patient Advocate and type 1 diabetic.
I’ve known about my diabetes since I was ten, and having to deal with it as a teen has been really tough. But over the years, I’ve learned that one of the hardest parts is trying to explain my condition to my friends.
There are so many aspects to diabetes and sometimes it can get really confusing. And while you shouldn’t have to present diabetes to your class or anything (true story: my fifth grade teacher made me do that), it’s important to talk to your friends about it so they know how to help you and make you feel comfortable.
Luckily, I’ve learned some helpful tips along the way that help me to explain diabetes to my friends, and I think every diabetic teen should keep them in mind:
- Tell your friends somewhere private. You want them to be able to really listen and ask questions without any distractions.
- Start with the basics. Explain what diabetes is and that they can’t get it from you without any complicated medical terms.
- Let them know the warning signs of highs and lows in your blood sugar and what to do when either of those symptoms occur so that they can help you if you need it.
- Show them your medical supplies and explain how to use them, especially your blood sugar tests so they can get used to seeing it.
- Assure them that they don’t need to constantly worry: if you need their help, you’ll let them know.
- Show them how you test your blood sugar and how you give yourself insulin. For some people, seeing blood and needles can be frightening, so slowly introduce them to what you have to do daily.
- Let your friends (ad their parents) know if you have a meal plan or certain foods you eat so they can be considerate around you.
Even if your friends are nervous at first, it’s important to know that if they are truly a good friend they will understand and only want to help you as much as they can. Don’t worry if at first they don’t know what to do. Just like it took you time to adjust to actually having diabetes, it will take time for them to understand it as well and talking about it is the first step.
Last reviewed Nov 17., 2014