School and T1D

Meg Penske Lifestyle Sep 21, 2020

School is starting up again, which  means my blood sugar levels will be rising. The stress and anxiety from school always causes them to be higher than when it’s summertime. This is because stress blocks your body from releasing insulin, which causes glucose to build up in your blood, leading to high blood sugar which can be corrected with more insulin.

I worry about my blood sugar a lot in school—I wonder if it’s too high or too low, if it’s going down, or if it’s rising. When my blood sugar goes low, an alarm on my phone goes off alerting me that I have low blood sugar. I hate to be the person in class whose phone goes off and everyone stares. I’m shy and quiet as it is so that’s not my goal during the school day.

When my blood sugar is low, I go to the school nurse where I have a 15g juice. (15 carbs is all you need to raise your blood sugar if it’s low). If my blood sugar is high, I let Mrs. Federico know and she lets me sit in her office and drink water until it goes back down. Most of the time I have to give myself insulin to help lower my blood sugar but that is a few clicks on my PDM (personal diabetes management system).

The hardest part of school when I was diagnosed in third grade was telling people I had diabetes. When we’re eight and nine years old, you don’t know much about diabetes. Heck, I didn’t even know much and I lived with the disease. A lot of people asked me if I was contagious or if it was because I ate too much sugar. My favorite conversation has to be when people tell me “my grandma has diabetes, too!” 99% of the time their grandma has type two diabetes which is not the same as type one. I usually wouldn’t tell people about my diabetes until I was really close with them. It was too hard to explain and I was embarrassed. When I reached the end of middle school and the beginning of high school, I felt like I had to tell more people in case a low episode was happening or something like that. I created a blog called “Me & My Life With Diabetes” to educate others on my illness because there was a lot of misinformation that would be mentioned in conversations. I felt more comfortable writing about my diabetes than I was talking about it. Since starting my blog, I have had a lot of people come up to me and tell me how much they have learned and that they were sorry for making “diabetic jokes” in front of me.

It’s important to let others know when something is wrong because they could help you if you cannot help yourself. If I’m having a major low episode and cannot get to the nurse, teachers will offer me juice and let the nurse know that I can’t make it down to her. It might be hard to share something so personal at first, but when you realize the support you have from your peers after sharing, it will all be worth it.

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