Revealing Diabetes

Posted by katie on Thu, 02/28/2013 - 21:15 in









When I was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, I had just turned 10 years old. I didn’t understand much about it and I was scared. I certainly had no idea how I was going to even begin to explain it to my friends. Would they think I was weird? Would they want to stop hanging out with me? I felt embarrassed at first about EVERYTHING – poking my finger to test my blood sugar, having to take insulin shots, needing to take snack breaks at a time when some teachers had a “no snack rule” in place in the classroom (I couldn’t exactly eat in front of everyone else)!

Right after I was diagnosed, my parents talked to the school nurse about arranging for me to test my blood sugar and take my insulin shots in her office. Still, my friends wondered why I had to leave the classroom and go to the nurse so often.  My teachers let me walk out of the classroom and go to my locker if I needed to grab a snack. But it was a little awkward sticking my head inside the locker so nobody would see me trying to chow down a granola bar as fast as possible. I have to say that all the adults involved at school were really nice about it. They spent time talking to me about how to handle certain situations in a way that would make me the most comfortable.

Telling My Friends About My Diabetes

I decided it was time to tell some close friends, as it was impossible for the other kids not to notice certain things. I didn’t want to hide my diabetes from them, but I also wasn’t going to stand up and make a class announcement either! Besides, like pretty much everything involving kids my age, information is like a leaking faucet. You start to get some out there and then it overflows. I knew most of the other kids were going to find out anyway.

My biggest priority when I decided to tell some of my friends was that they got the right information. As I had expected, there were several different reactions, although most of them were supportive.  When I think back to that time, I’m not sure anyone really understood at first what I was telling them. A couple friends said, “Oh, my Grandmother has that” and treated it like it was no big deal. They really didn’t understand the difference between type 1 diabetes and type 2 diabetes, so they thought I could just watch what I ate and take a pill.

I found out later that one of my friends had asked her mother if diabetes was contagious. Some asked a lot of questions and couldn’t believe that I was able to poke my finger and put blood on a test strip several times a day to test. “Doesn’t that hurt?!” was the most common question (which it did at first, until I got used to it). Others wanted to know more about it – and those were the friends I could trust to have my back. I told them about the signs of low and high blood sugar, and what to do if I started acting, well, weird.

How I Felt After Revealing My Diabetes

Although I was hesitant at first, I actually felt a big sense of relief after I told my close friends that I had diabetes. It didn’t change how they treated me. We kept doing the same things together. I just had to take a few extra precautions, like making sure I had an orange juice box with me at all times. They got used to me carrying my small purse, or as I refer to it, my “D Bag,” at all times. (Not to deviate much here, but to me everything does come back to fashion, so I’d just like to point out something. It’s a good idea to have several “D Bags” to carry your, diabetes supplies, snacks, etc. The best idea is to stick with two or three neutral colors. I prefer white, black and beige. That way one of the bags will always match my outfit.)

I can only speak from my personal experience, but it’s definitely a good idea to tell your close friends about your diabetes. Just remember that people will always have different reactions – and be prepared for some possible negative ones. Once your friends have the right information, they won’t be so confused or “freaked out” about diabetes.