A billion words have been written on how hard it is to be a teenager and I’m not about to add to them. Well, just a few. Hope that’s OK.
I just know I’m glad that my teenage years are but a distant glow on the far-away horizon. More than that, I’m glad that if I did have to get diagnosed with Diabetes, it happened many years after that hormonal maelstrom that comes with the teen years.
Peer group pressure for me was a couple of mates who had different ideas about how I should behave. Now, peer group pressure is lived out in real time, 24/7, on a plethora of social media platforms with a forest of eyes watching and judging, criticising and belittling.
But you have diabetes too. Whatever the teen years are like for your ‘normal’ mates, yours are very different. Parents worried stiff about your blood glucose levels, you having a hypo, not going to see your Nurse or Doc.
But hey- you’re not bothered. None of your friends know you have to inject and do all the stuff that goes with it. When you can be bothered to be good and check your bloods and inject (which might not be that often to be honest) you sneak off somewhere to do it.
Not my place to judge, obviously. You’re grown up (nearly) and perfectly capable of making sensible decisions (usually).
Just a couple of things that you might find interesting. There is something called ‘muscle memory’ that sporty types are aware of. A good example is riding a bike. If you learn how to do it, leave it alone for years and then jump on a bike, you’ll still remember how to ride.
So what I hear you say?
Sorry to go a bit techy here, but it’s important…there is also something called ‘metabolic memory’
Metabolic memory is a term used to describe beneficial effects of immediate intensive treatment of hyperglycemia and the observation that they are maintained for many years, regardless of glycaemia in the later course of diabetes.
Roughly translated, this means if you get on top of your blood glucose control really early after you’ve been diagnosed, then even if your control goes pear shaped down the line, those early years of great control will have a massively positive effect. Good news eh? Indeed…but the bad news is if you don’t get it sorted, then the hounds of hell could be out of the kennels. Not when your old, like 30, but very, very soon.
(One important caveat here though. For kids who are diagnosed really young different rules apply. Say diagnosed at 6, really good until they go to big school and then go off the rails. Those few years of great control aren’t enough to play the MM (Metabolic Memory) Card. Bad things can happen…worth bearing in mind!)
Time for the first case study now. Harsh, but true….read this
CASE STUDY 1 – JANE’S STORY
Jane is 24 and was diagnosed with Type 1 when she was 16. From around that age, Jane’s ambition was to go to Uni and then become a teacher. She worked hard at her studies but wasn’t anything like as interested at working hard with her diabetes.
Jane lives with her parents now.
She did make it to Uni. But when she was 20, she noticed that her vision was not great. As the months passed, it continued to get worse.
So, at 24, Jane is now registered blind. She still wants to teach.
Go back and read that thing on ‘metabolic memory’. Not saying 100% that poor glycaemic control was the reason for Jane going blind. But a lot of data would.
Your diabetes, your life, your choice.
That said, you don’t have to put your life on hold if you have diabetes as a teenager. Your girlfriends are going clubbing, and want you to be there. Do you wear ‘flatties’ or your highest heels. Go for it… enjoy..
(Without being gender biased, I’m really talking to the ladies here…..but guys if it feels good then…)
Another case study…again true
CASE STUDY 2 – ARRON’S STORY
Arron hated having diabetes and for some reason felt ashamed to tell even his best mates. His parents knew obviously but that was about it. His parents tended not to go out on the lash with him and the boys on a Friday night.
Another Friday… another ‘session’ planned. Few pre-loaders, off into town. Arron was late, hassled and starving. But the lads were up for hitting it hard, blissfully unaware that their mate was heading for an unforgettable night.
Busy city centre, loads of drinks. All of them hammered but it’s Arron that ends up in the Drunk Tank. It’s nearly 2.00am.
The staff running the Tank are bombed out. They ask if Arron has any medical conditions and his mates laughed and said no. No point in hanging around so off they went into the night, safe in the knowledge that Arron would sleep it off.
Arron did go to sleep. Forever.
He died because he went into a diabetic coma. His brain shut down. He was 19.
Hi parents were woken at 6.30 to a loud knocking on the door……
Horrible, gut wrenching but true.
If only he had told one of his mates about what was wrong with him. He so needed a ‘wingman’ out there that night looking after him. Having a hypo can have many of the same symptoms of being drunk; blurry vision, pale skin, shaking, sweating, hunger, rapid heartbeat, headache, trouble thinking clearly or concentrating, loss of consciousness, sudden mood changes, sudden nervousness, unexplained fatigue etc
Diabetes in the teen years is a ‘mare. But it doesn’t have to be the end of the world. There are Premiership footballers and international rugby players that are Type 1.
I guess it’s all down to choices
Your diabetes, your life, your responsibility…