Sunday, February 21, 2010

Does Diabetes make a Person Different?

Juvenile Diabetes Treatment

How Is Juvenile Diabetes Treated? (For More Information, please see Type 1 Diabetes)

Kids with diabetes have to give their bodies insulin. When a person with diabetes takes insulin, he is doing the job that the pancreas can't do anymore. Insulin comes in a liquid that's injected into the body with a needle. When the insulin goes into the body, it works like insulin from the pancreas, bringing glucose from the blood into the body's cells so the body can use it for food and function normally. Usually, a person takes insulin two or more times a day, every day. Today, some kids and adults with diabetes get their insulin continuously through a small pump (about the size of a beeper) that they wear.

Diet is also used along with insulin to treat diabetes. This doesn't mean a diet to lose weight like the ones you see advertised on TV. It means eating healthy foods and not going overboard with sweets. Kids with diabetes need to think about what they eat because the sugar in food affects the levels of sugar in the blood.

Doctors and dietitians (dietitians are specialists who create food plans to help keep people healthy) figure out how many carbohydrates a kid with diabetes needs at meals and snacks (carbohydrates are the energy sources in food that the body turns into sugars). They also decide how much insulin he needs to take. Balancing the right amount of insulin with the food he eats helps keep his blood sugar at a healthy level. A kid with diabetes might also sometimes need to eat extra food when he exercises to keep his blood sugar at the right level.

And speaking of exercise . . . it's good for everybody, and especially for kids with diabetes. It helps kids with diabetes control their blood sugars, and it keeps their bodies in good shape. Lots of professional athletes and other active people developed insulin-dependent diabetes when they were young, and it didn't stop them - like baseball player Jackie Robinson, ice-hockey player Bobby Clarke, football quarterback Wade Wilson, and actress/dancer Mary Tyler Moore.

Does Diabetes Make a Person Different?

Kids who have diabetes look like everyone else. And they are like everyone else - it's just that their bodies don't make insulin anymore. So it's kind of silly to judge someone based on an organ in his body, right? A kid with diabetes will have to do special things sometimes, like check his blood sugar (he'll prick his finger or forearm to get a little blood and test it with a machine to see how much sugar is there). He might have to eat a snack on the bus during a long school trip. He might have to wake up earlier than everyone else at a sleepover so he can take his insulin and have some breakfast to stay on schedule.

But even though kids with diabetes have to do these things, diabetes doesn't keep them from doing the stuff they love - which is pretty much all the things that other kids love! They can still play sports, go out with their friends, star in the play, sleep over at friends' houses, and go on trips. They can even have a good time during a class party. The most important thing to remember is that kids with diabetes like to be treated like everyone else. No one likes to feel different or weird, and it can really help a kid if he knows that his friends are cool about his diabetes.

If you know a kid with diabetes, you probably have a lot more things that make you the same than things that make you different. And if you meet someone with diabetes, be sure to keep that in mind - because friends are all about having fun together, not having a perfect pancreas!