Diabetes: it’s a fancy word with a whole lot of complex explanation behind it. Someone newly diagnosed could spend hours researching the condition, deciphering terms like “pancreas,” “insulin,” “glucose,” and “bolus.”
A new diabetes diagnosis could be frightening, overwhelming, and hard to understand for anyone – especially when you haven’t even hit “double digits” yet. To understand the strength and bravery that kids with type 1 diabetes posses, we interviewed Grace, a nine-year-old girl who gave us some no-nonsense answers about being a kid with diabetes.
Grace is a girly-girl who loves to swim and hang out with friends. She loves all things stylish and wants to be a makeup artist when she gets older. She was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago, at age seven, when she was in first grade.
“I was shocked, and I felt different at first,” Grace told us during our phone interview.
When the doctor said “diabetes,” Grace said her mind stuck to that first syllable, “die,” and she felt afraid. Like any newly diagnosed diabetes patient, Grace had a lot of questions. She had to learn a lot of new things about her body and about diabetes – that fancy word with a complex meaning. We asked her to simplify diabetes and define it in a kid-friendly way.
“It’s when your pancreas stops giving you the medicine you need all the time,” she said.
Because of her diabetes, Grace had to learn to adjust to many new things. She has learned to never let diabetes stop her, but she’s also learned that it’s always okay to sit some things out when she isn’t feeling well.
“Sometimes when I’m low or high, there are activities I can’t do,” she explained. “It’s hard being a kid.”
It’s difficult to explain a medical condition to a class full of first graders, so Grace said it took a little while for her to tell them. Her teachers called a class meeting and explained that sometimes, Grace would have to leave the classroom and might not act like herself when she didn’t feel well.
“I can get cranky or tired, but it’s my diabetes, not me,” Grace explained.
Her family, friends and teachers have been understanding and supportive and have helped make the lifestyle changes easier for Grace, but she says there are still times when people don’t understand. She said someone might stare when she gives herself a shot at the water park, but she has a simple answer for anyone who might poke fun at a kid with diabetes.
“It’s just the way he or she is. They were born that way,” she said simply. “I’m a normal girl, just like you. It’s just the way I am. I may be getting a shot, but I’m me.”
Wearing a Lauren's Hope medical ID bracelet is part of Grace's safety regime. Since she is a girly-girl who loves bright colors and a little bling, she now calls our Dippy Dots medical ID bracelet her current favorite.
You can read more about Grace and her adventures with diabetes at her mom’s blog, http://asweetgrace.blogspot.com.