Recently we sat down with Noah 17, to have a chat about what its like to be a teenager at school in Year 12 and living with Type1 Diabetes. Noah was diagnosed at 17 months old, whilst on a family holiday in Spain. Noah and his mum Michelle share a special bond, as Michelle was diagnosed with Type1 after having her 4th child 2 years ago. Noah has witnessed many changes in the management of Type1 in the past 15 years and is very happy to share some of his experiences with us.
What is the hardest part of having Type 1 at your age?
As a teenager with Type1 diabetes it can be incredibly hard to remember to bolus (enter carbs into your Insulin Pump ) for everything that you eat. Forgetting even one bolus can ruin your levels for the entire day, which is quite annoying and frustrating. Forgetting to do blood tests is another thing that can be very easy to forget. One thing that really helps me as a teenager with Type1 is the Dexcom Continuous Blood Glucose Monitor. It beeps and vibrates on my phone in classes at school and I can easily see what my levels are whenever I use my phone, my watch or my Mac.
What has Type 1 taught you about yourself?
I have never really struggled making friends or feeling embarrassed with Type1 diabetes in my teenage life. For me, it is really just the management side of my diabetes that I really struggle with. Type 1 has taught me that you can do anything anyone else can do and that being Type 1 diabetic doesn’t change who I am.
What is something that having Type1 Diabetes has helped you with?
Meeting people who are newly diagnosed with Type1 diabetes has made me compassionate, because many kids are afraid of the diagnosis. My experience living with it for 15 years means that I have the knowledge and my presence is helpful to people newly diagnosed and I can use it to benefit them. In a way, I suppose it’s the classic superhero quote “with great power comes great responsibility” only my power is Type1 diabetes (which is sort of lame) and it’s my responsibility to ease some peoples feelings of unrest about living with it for the rest of their lives.
How would you like things to change in the future?
I’ve been incredibly fortunate as I have a Medtronic pump and it means that I don’t have to inject every two hours, and before meals which is a real fear for a lot of new Type1 diabetics, so I hope that pumps can become more accessible and more easily distributed to new teen diabetics especially, so they don’t have to use injections if they are afraid. I also hope that the sensors/pump supplies/insulin will become cheaper because it is an added cost going into adulthood for many diabetics in their late teens and early twenties.
Do you feel supported at school? And what changes at schools would you like to see for the future generations that follow?
My school is pretty supportive as they have tried to remind me. But it hasn't really worked for me, so there's not a lot they can do for me. I'd like to see more awareness and understanding of what Type1 Diabetes is and how much it affects students, especially their moods. In middle school one of my teachers thought I couldn't spin around because spinning would affect my blood sugar levels. This is not the case at all.
Do you feel understood by your peers?
I do feel supported by my friends. I find that for me it's easier to joke about my Type1 Diabetes and injecting Insulin with my mates than be sad about it. So I suppose in a way it's not really support that I want from my friends.
Any advice to other teenagers out there?
Technology is your best friend, and I highly recommend that you use it. You may be nervous at first and it might be confronting but it will make your life so much easier once you get used to it. It will improve your health in the long term too.