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Dear Dish-It: I Have Diabetes

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Dear Dish-It,


I recently found out I had diabetes. I'm worried that people will look at me different. Will they?


No more sugar


Dear No more sugar,


Dealing with diabetes can stir up a lot of different feelings, especially after you first find out you have diabetes. It's a big change to suddenly have to visit the doctor more often, take medicine and watch what you eat. Let's talk about how your diabetes can make you feel and figure out some ways to feel better.


Your Feelings

When they're first diagnosed, kids with diabetes may worry about what it will mean. Some kids may worry about having to take insulin shots. Other kids with diabetes might be upset if they have to change the way they eat. And all kids with diabetes may wonder, "Why me?" and think, "It isn't fair." Diabetes can also make people feel sad, angry, upset or alone because most of their friends don't have to worry about their blood sugar levels. It's just not something a kid wants.


It's OK to have lots of different feelings about diabetes. Finding out you have it means you have to make a big adjustment. You'll have to get used to taking care of your diabetes and making that care part of your everyday routine. It's not easy to change what you've been doing. But the more you learn about diabetes, the more in control you'll feel and the better you'll be able to handle it as part of everyday life. In other words, dealing with diabetes becomes easier and just part of normal daily life — like brushing your teeth or taking a shower. Let's find out how you get there.


Talk About It

Finding someone to talk to can help you feel better. Kind of like, "Whew, now that's off my chest!" Parents are good people to talk with, and so are other grownups in your life, like grandparents and other relatives. A school counselor or your friends also can be helpful to you.


When you have questions or feelings about diabetes, you can tell your doctor, too. Maybe your doctor's office can help you find other kids with diabetes. They can be really good to talk with because they're going though the same stuff. A diabetes support group - kind of like a club for kids with diabetes - is one way to discover you're not the only kid with diabetes. Your doctor's office can tell you if a support group is available in your area.


No matter how many people they could talk to, some kids find it tough to open up and talk about their feelings. If this is you, maybe you can find another way of expressing what it's like for you. For instance, you could write a letter or draw a picture to show how diabetes makes you feel. You might choose to share this with a parent or someone who's close to you, or you might decide just to keep it private. Even if it's tough, try to tell at least one person how you're feeling.


Remember, it doesn't have to be a big, long talk or anything. Just mentioning what's going on and how it is for you can be enough. It's especially important to tell your parent or your doctor if you're feeling really sad or really angry about things. There are good ways to help you feel better if strong feelings are bothering you. And if someone is bullying you or teasing you because of diabetes, be sure to tell an adult.


Support Group

When more people know about your diabetes, you'll probably feel more comfortable about taking daily trips to the school nurse or other things you might need to do to stay healthy. Your mom or dad can help start this process by talking to your teacher about diabetes and what you need to do to at school to keep it under control (like taking breaks to test blood sugar or eating snacks at certain times). If you decide not to tell many people, that's OK. But most kids decide to tell their close friends. It's hard to hide blood sugar checks, medicine, and eating on time from friends who spend the most time with you. And then, if you need to, you can talk to your friends about how you're feeling.


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