Joey was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 8, a good age to be diagnosed. People think I’m crazy – how is there a good age to be diagnosed with a chronic illness? Of course I mean that if your gonna get it anyway, eight years old is a good age and I’ll tell you why I think so.
I believe the younger you are when you are diagnosed the better. Take my grandson Cooper, he was 22 months old! He can’t remember not having type 1. Joey doesn’t remember life before either, but because we watched my daughter take care of Cooper, Joey knew exactly what was in store for him. When he was diagnosed one of the first things he said to me was “I don’t want to get shots!” Because he watched Cooper get shots. He also watched as Cooper started using the Omnipod insulin pump.
When my daughter Jenny had her second son Eli, Cooper asked her if it was Eli’s turn to have type 1, and when would his “go away?” Broke my heart! So even though he doesn’t remember life before type 1, he definitely knew that not everyone else has it.
I’ve talked with parents whose kids were teenagers at diagnosis. I saw a kids reaction first hand at our diabetes 101 class. The boy, aged 16, refused to listen to the instructor! His mom said he doesn’t comprehend what will happen if he doesn’t take his insulin. He wasn’t carb counting. The mom was desperate. She said that on his way to school he would stop and pickup donuts from the gas station for breakfast, and he was still doing this. Denial is a huge issue with teens.
I believe that age 13-18 is the absolute worst age group to be diagnosed! Teens are so self conscious already, add a disease where they have to check their blood sugar, keep their diabetes supplies with them, and try to eat healthy, forget it! And God forbid someone see them check their blood sugar! They don’t want to be different! Who does!
This spring I volunteered at my older sons post prom event, two of the kids had type 1 diabetes. Both of them left their diabetes supplies on the bus while at the dinner and dance. Both kids used insulin pumps, one was the Medtronic, the meter was beeping for hours in the kids bag. Joey uses the Omnipod, so I’m not familiar with the Medtronic, but when I looked into the bag to see what was beeping, I noticed that the unit said it was suspended. My point is that they left their supplies on the bus, which were not accessible to them!
For two years Joey was the WI Youth Ambassador for the American Diabetes Association, where his platform was to empower kids with type 1 diabetes – to embrace the disease and not be embarrassed by it. I hope as he gets older he will embrace his own words!
Recently we talked about his blood sugar numbers being on the higher end, we changed basal rates and talked about other ways to stay in range. I found out that for a few days Joey wasn’t checking his blood sugar measurement before eating, he figured he felt good so must be in range! One of the things that make his insulin pump so awesome is that it takes his blood sugar and calculates a correction if needed. But of course it has to have a blood sugar number to work with or it can’t calculate the correction. And with a week of no correction factors with meals, Joey’s A1C went up slightly. We have some work to do, I have to remember that he’s only 4Teen! 🙂