So we all know diabetes pretty much affects every single aspect of our daily lives. Knowing what the blood sugar is and in what direction its headed is crucial for living a so called “normal life.” I was diagnosed at 6, a happy go lucky kindergartner. The hardest thing about being diagnosed was no longer being able to sprinkle sugar on my morning cheerios … waaaah! Fast forward to fifth grade. Smelly double digit aged kids, trapper keepers and Lisa Frank folders, little bits of hair sprouting on legs, and yes I said it, puberty.
My public school offered the opportunity to participate in a week long Health Education program or “sex ed”, the commonly used term these days. The boys and girls were separated to learn about their respective parts of the body and processes that would happen. Of course, little did I know, diabetes would play a big role.
Shortly after the week of giggles and diagrams from “sex ed” ended I went to my routine check-up for my 3 month endo visit.
“Any periods yet?”, said the doctor. (Really? my mom is in the room, seriously did he just ask that?)
“Nope not yet.”
“Ok well you know that hormones really can affect your blood sugar so we may need to do some insulin adjusting.”
He proved to be right, as over the course of the next 5 plus years I increased my, then Lente and UltraLente, doses by 1-2 units a week because of trends of high blood sugars.
At this point, my mom hadn’t had that “talk” with me but I knew the car ride home would either be silent or prompt the intense discussion that I had been dreading. A few days later we visited Walden Books and, when I got home, on the coffee table in a brown paper bag there was a book. The title of it, “PERIOD” … with a red dot at the end. Awesome, thanks mom for the subtle awkward intro to the land of puberty I was about to enter. Thank goodness for close girlfriends to pick through pictures, gossip, and compare stories with.
When I arrived at camp that summer (my mom was sure I was going to get my period while I was there) another brown paper bag appeared inside my trunk with a few “goodies” to get me through should it happen while I was away. Some girls had already gotten theirs and other’s not.
It wasn’t until I was 14 when my womanhood started. So many questions went through my mind. Why did I get mine way after all my friends did? Was I going to be able to have kids? Was it because of diabetes? Who knows … but I do know that even 15 years in to ladyhood I still find myself being more hungry, therefore needing more insulin, and more challenged than my non-D friends during the monthly cycle. I have a special basal pattern set on my pump where for 4 days I get extra insulin to help. Once I felt like my growing body came to a standstill and my height was no longer a starting point for every physical exam, my insulin daily totals also seemed to plateau. My body wasn’t working as hard, I didn’t need to eat as much, so my doses decreased a little.
Something I learned about puberty is that not one person is the same, especially when it comes to diabetes. Some people need more insulin, some might need less, some women don’t crave chocolate (I still do, dark chocolate is my fav). I will say, that the amount of insulin I take now is about overall 10 units less per day than what I was taking during my teen and college years.
So parents, don’t fret, your kid is eating more because they are growing and need more to eat and more insulin. It stinks, diabetes doesn’t make transitioning to anything easy, but a lot of the mood swings and highs and lows can be blamed on the fact that kids are just kids trying to grow up, just like any other kid.