I’m 15 years old and my 13th birthday present was T1D! Since my diagnosis was less than 3 years ago it’s still very fresh in my mind. I definitely remember the overload of info- it will get better. Especially since so much of that information is implemented in day to day life.
Here are the biggest things I learned:
The nurses at my childrens hospital emphasized that my life would be “normal”. That is true to an extent, I am able to do everything normal teens can- I have A’s in my classes, I have lots of friends who I spend time with, my family just completed a year of extended traveling- but type 1 is never normal. I had to learn to accept that fact. Most teens don’t have to think twice before getting in the drivers seat, going out to see friends, or taking a test in school. My friends don’t have to do math every time they eat or when their phone beeps at them. But that abnormalness is something that brings a lot of benefits- I’m more responsible, I have more emotional and physical self control (no slapping when I’m high, no eating the cookie when I just ate lunch), I’m more aware of my body, and while most of my peers search for instant gratification, I know that the choices I’m making now will affect me far into the future.
One of the hardest lessons I learned is that while my blood sugar is “MY blood sugar”, that does not mean it’s a reflection of me. The numbers on my CGM and glucometer are numbers that tell me sugar levels, not if I’m extraordinary or a dummy. This was really hard when I was first diagnosed because it took a while to find the right insulin doses. For the first two months my blood sugar logs regularly read between 200-500 and it was hard for me to accept that this wasn’t my fault or a reflection of me as a person. Some days it’s still hard not to look at the numbers and start viewing myself through them.
You might already know this one- learn to go with the flow. Diabetes is unpredictable. It’s an a+ b= x, y, or maybe p kind of disease. You just have to be flexible, expect the unexpected, and have a backup plan for everything.
Some things that I appreciate from my parents:
When my blood sugar is high/low and I’m being rude or taking my emotions out on others, they don’t punish me for the high but for the behavior that came from it. Like if I’m 234 and I slap my brother, they punish me for slapping my brother, not for being 234. I believe that this is absolutely critical- When I’m in my twenties and have a job, if a coworker is rude or something, I don’t want to blow my top or start weeping out of control just because my blood sugar is high and I didn’t have the self control to say “I’m not feeling well right now, can we discuss this later?”. That would not be good for me, my coworker, or my employment status.
Another thing I appreciate is how my mom helps me come up with phrases that clearly communicate what I need in certain situations. When I’m high or low, I have a hard time communicating clearly and succinctly about what I am feeling, what I need to do, what I have done, and if I need help. My mom often gives me feedback after I’m back to normal. She helps me come up with lines like “I’m having a low blood sugar and I’m dealing with it” so that I can say what I need to and so that my teachers/friends/other adults know that I’m OK or that I need help.
Rereading this post, I’m thinking that this might not be what you’re looking for exactly but I hope it still helps! Diabetes might have been the worst birthday present I got, but it has turned out to be the best.
Good luck with figuring it all out.
Ps- If you can, get a CGM! Continuous glucose monitors are awesome! I have the dexcom CGM and after I insert the patch, it stays on for 10 days and I rarely have to poke my fingers. I don’t feel the CGM at all- I usually forget that it’s there. It sends my blood sugar readings to my cellphone and to my mom’s every 5 minutes and there are alarms I can set for when I’m high or low. Those alarms are especially helpful for if I go low at night because I don’t wake up on my own. It’s my favorite diabetes tool and if your child is still young or rebelling against shots/finger pokes, it could help you out a lot.