Jack* is an eleven year old boy in my class, who was diagnosed with Type I diabetes when he was 8 years old. I was curious to know about what it meant to him as he is different than us. He tests his blood sugars by himself during break times and as his mum works in the school, after lunch she puts in a needle in his arm to inject insulin. He is otherwise friendly, but at parties, he has food restrictions.
One day, I asked him if I could interview him and he was happy. His responses seem rather casual and surprising. I have reproduced the interview below to show what diabetes means from a child`s perspective.
So let’s get started.
Me: How did you find out you have Diabetes?
Jack: I was on holiday and my mum noticed that I was drinking and going to the toilet a lot.
Me: How did you react to the diagnosis?
Jack: I was scared and upset.
Me: How did others react?
Jack: They were a bit shocked and confused.
Me: Did you know what Diabetes was before the diagnosis?
Me: What does Diabetes mean to you?
Jack: It meant nothing before but now it means a lot.
Me: Who are the people involved in caring for you?
Jack: Mum, dad, sister and dietitian.
Me: What were the symptoms?
Jack: Going to the toilet and drinking lots of liquids.
Me: How does this affect everyday life?
Jack: I now have to be aware if I feel low.
Me: Are you treated differently because you have Diabetes?
Jack: No not really.
Me: Does anything irritate you?
Jack: Most of the time I feel normal but it’s having to test that annoys me.
Me: How did you adjust to it?
Jack: I just kept going and stayed positive.
Me: Who would you talk to?
Jack: I would talk to a nurse or my parents.
Me: How did you understand things about diabetes?
Jack: I was talked to and asked if there was anything I couldn’t understand.
Me: What do you miss most about the times before you had Diabetes?
Jack: Not having to test and take insulin injections.
Me: And what have you gained?
Jack is rather calm and has accepted diabetes as a part of him.
Even tough children can be very sensitive, their understanding of actions may not be as vivid as adults. This means that things like diabetes may not affect them as much as what is expected.
He is a bit anxious about the future and the frequent testing irritates him. Although it has become a habit, he wishes that it wasn’t a part of his life. He feels that it differentiates him from others and the feeling of insecurity is still there.
Children can feel many things during changes in life. Insensitivity, fear, differentiation, sadness, insecurity or maybe even joy. Whether it is for Diabetes or for another change we all need assistance in guiding our way through different occurrences.
Author Rona Bhattacharya is a 10-year-old primary school student in the UK. She is an avid blogger, published author and poet.She is an accomplished dancer and singer.She is also an endurance swimmer and a PADI certified SCUBA diver. She is the Sports Ambassador of her school apart from being academically top of her class. She is very conscious of social issues, has organised multiple fundraisers and is currently swimming 22 miles, the length of the English Channel in the swimming pool for the charity Diabetes UK to raise awareness for children with diabetes.
*Name changed to protect identity