For Kids Ages 9 to 11: Dealing with Diabetes
Your healthcare provider says that you have diabetes. This is why you may have been feeling sick. But you can learn how to live with diabetes and feel better. Having diabetes isn’t your fault! It does mean making some changes in your life. You might feel like there’s a lot to learn. But diabetes doesn’t have to stop you from doing the things you like to do.
You’re not alone
Finding out that you have diabetes can be hard. But you don’t have to face it alone. Lots of people will help you. Your helpers are called your “diabetes team.” The team may include your parents, brothers and sisters, and your family healthcare provider. There are also some special team members who know a lot about diabetes. These people are:
Endocrinologist. This is a medical doctor who treats children with diabetes. This healthcare provider is known as a specialist because they have in-depth knowledge about diabetes.
Dietitian. A dietitian teaches you about the best foods for you to eat and how food affects your blood sugar.
Diabetes educator. A diabetes educator is someone like a nurse, pharmacist, occupational therapist, or social worker. They teach you how to manage your blood sugar.
Occupational therapist. An occupational therapist can help you with any sports, studies, or hobbies you have so that diabetes will not interfere with your continuing to excel in them.
Pediatrician or family healthcare provider. This is a healthcare provider who takes care of any other health problems and is often referred to as a primary care provider.
Pharmacist. This person fills the prescriptions for your diabetes medicines.
Podiatrist. This healthcare provider deals with any complications of the feet.
Dentist. This healthcare provider makes sure your teeth are as healthy as they can be.
Ophthalmologist. This healthcare provider watches for eye problems related to diabetes.
Be a diabetes detective
You’ll see your diabetes team members often. It’s their job to help you learn about diabetes. But the most important person who can help you is YOU! You can become a diabetes detective. A diabetes detective looks for clues about what’s happening in their body. This means doing things like checking your blood sugar and writing down the numbers. Then, you can help your parents figure out how much insulin you need. Being a diabetes detective will help you stay healthier and feel better. Diabetes detective work might seem hard. But you don’t have to be good at all this stuff right away. Don’t be afraid to ask a grownup for help when you need it. Ask as many questions as you want about diabetes and how to take care of yourself. The more information a detective has, the more powerful they can be! With practice, you’ll be a great detective!
Taking care of your blood sugar at school
Your teachers and other adults at school will learn how to help you. By the time you talk to them, you may already know more about diabetes than they do!
First, your parents will meet with your teachers and the school nurse. They will need to decide who will help you with your insulin shots.
Your parents will explain that you need to check your blood sugar often. Talk with your parents and teachers to find out where the best place is for testing your blood sugar. Make sure you have a source of glucose (sugar) available. This is so you can eat or drink something right away if your glucose level is low.
Taking care of your blood sugar in class means you can feel better and keep up with your schoolwork. And it means you won’t have to stop playing sports and being active at school. Always wear your medical alert ID. That way, in case of an emergency, people will know you have diabetes. Know where your daily and emergency diabetes supplies are stored. Set a good example by always safely disposing of any used diabetes equipment.
Like food and insulin, being active can help you manage your blood sugar. Activity, such as playing sports or riding a bike, can help keep your blood sugar from getting too high. But too much activity can sometimes make your blood sugar fall too low. That’s why it’s important to check your blood sugar more often when you are active. You may also need to adjust how much insulin you take when you are active. Your diabetes team can tell you how.
Your friends can help; ups and downs are normal
You don’t have to talk about diabetes with anyone unless you want to. But your friends might have questions. Try not to get mad, even if their questions seem silly. Before you had diabetes, you probably didn’t know much about it either. Many kids find that telling their friends about their diabetes can help. Your true friends are the ones who support you in taking care of yourself. If your friends know about your diabetes, they can act as your “backup” detectives. They can learn the signs of low blood sugar. Then, if you are acting “low,” they can get an adult to help.
While most friends are kind and helpful, sometimes there are bullies in school who might say or do unkind things. Misuse of social media makes it especially easy to be cruel to others. If someone bullies you, either in person or through social media, tell a trusted adult right away.
There will be times when you feel totally on top of things. But sometimes, you may feel really tired of dealing with diabetes. When this happens, don’t give up! Ask for help. Your diabetes team is there to help you find ways to make things easier. You don’t have to be perfect. You can make changes to your plan and still be healthy. You might want to ask your parents about going to a diabetes camp. It’s a place to hang out and have fun with other kids who have diabetes. They understand what you’re going through because they’re going through it, too.
To learn more
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