Tonight I joined a Google+ Hangout with Diabetes UK and a few other people from the #DOC.
It was a really interesting experience and it's such a clever idea. Today the topic was 'Do you talk about your diabetes?'
I am willing to talk about my diabetes; if someone asked me what my pump did i'd tell them and then "luckily" for them, I'd give them a nice science lesson on what diabetes is, just to save myself from the questions like "So did you get it from eating too much sugar?" or "You aren't fat though?" I like to talk about it to other people because I like to educate people on it- I wouldn't like to tell someone that I'm diabetic and then have them walk away most probably assuming that I got it from eating too much sugar.
Joe asked me about what my experience with diabetes is like at school and I said that at school like for example, talking to teachers about it. I wasn't all that confident about it. At school I didn't talk about it unless it was necessary, I wouldn't talk to any of the teachers about it unless I was low or high. I'm not too sure why but sometimes I thought that diabetes attracted negative attention which is something that I really don't like and would rather avoid. There were also one or two incidents at school which I felt, knocked what I had left of my confidence slightly, once in P.E I was low and I normally bring my friend with me to get my glucose tablets, on this incident I had left them inside- anyway, I had to go in with someone else from the classs who wouldn't have known what to do if I passed out, because my teacher wouldn't let my friend come in with me. I was fuming- it was irritating how little knowledge she had and being low I wasn't in any position to confront her about it.
Another time during school, my blood sugar went high and my pump wasn't doing the trick so I had to go down to the office and inject, much to my dismay the teachers couldn't exactly locate my insulin pen so it took about five minutes to initially find the actual pen so I could correct my high blood sugar. Once I was done I was told to just leave my things there and the welfare officer would put the pen back where it was- anyway two days later it was still sitting out on the counter and somehow I got in trouble for it by another one of the teachers who told me that if I didn't make sure my "toot" was put away then she was going to throw it in the bin...
My school kind of just let me get on with it really. There was one discussion with the teachers when I was first diagnosed and that was it. My year leader was very supportive though and was always there if I needed any help with my diabetes.
I know I say I wasn't confident at school but then I know I managed to talk at the Parliament event for the Type One essentials campaign which is something I am awfully proud of and I sometimes find myself sitting down and thinking "How on earth did I do that" I wonder how I couldn't be as confident at school with diabetes but I was confident talking in Parliament to people I had never even met before. I think part of it was not wanting to mix diabetes with school so much, I wanted to make sure that I wasn't known as "the diabetic" at school and it stayed that way but I feel that made me hold back slightly I think. I also didn't want to feel like a burden to the staff at school- I know they never made me feel like that when I did need their help but it's just a sense of, I don't like to rely on other people so much.
Plus, I have been talking to all the other diabetics on twitter for a while now and I think that sort of built up my confidence- like, I had a new found confidence to kind of go and there and talk about my diabetes and a lot of that I derived from hearing all the accomplishments that other diabetics on twitter have made and that gave me the drive to say yes to talking in Parliament and to speak out- which I figured after that, is something that I really enjoy doing.
I start sixth form in September so my diabetes will be entirely up to me, I am no longer going to need to leave my insulin with the welfare officer because there is a fridge in the sixth form common room, things like that.
But I really think it's important to be more confident about diabetes, wherever you are. I wish I was more confident during my years of secondary school with diabetes- I wish I had spoken out more about it. But then again I was never the one to stand up in front of 300 odd students and talk, but knowing I spoke in Parliament makes me feel very proud.
Talking about diabetes is important too because everyone has to know that you're diabetic and has to know what to do if you ever get into a bit of a pickle with your blood sugars. I had a set group of people in my class who knew about my diabetes and they would be the ones that I would go to if I ever needed to go down to the office because one of them would come with me. But although I didn't really like having to explain it to people I still did and their understanding "ahh" at the end always made me feel happy.
Just talk about diabetes, spread the word, spread awareness- it's the only way. Don't keep your thoughts bottled up, it's good to share things with other people so they can understand too.