Maintaining a Normal Life


Maintaining a normal life and not allowing it to define you is an important part of living with diabetes, particularly for children and teenagers. Elissa Renouf offers some advice on how to achieve this. Contains 10 Q&As

hey are trying to help you. It can be a huge support to surround yourself with people your own age who are going through exactly the same thing as you. Imagine sitting with a group of teenagers at the dinner table and not having to feel shy about testing before you eat and giving yourself injections. Going to a diabetes camp will hopefully give you the skills to manage and accept your diabetes.

Diabetic Living Magazine. Issue 27, 2010. Download a copy of this article as a pdf here.


As long as his diabetes is well controlled, your son's risk of infection from a cut may not be too high. The problem is usually associated with poor circulation caused by high BGLs over a period of time, however it would be a good idea for his doctor or diabetes educator to explain to him the importance of looking after this feet - the earlier he learns to be on the alert for problems the better, so he knows to treat any sign of broken skin with great care.

Diabetic Living Magazine. Issue 26, 2010. Download a copy of this article as a pdf here.

There should be no problem having an insulin pump and doing swimming training. Usually, when you exercise you require less insulin. Before training, you can detach the pump then reattach it afterwards, checking you blood sugar levels to see if you need more insulin. I’m sure that if you do get an insulin pump you’ll never look back.

Diabetic Living Magazine. Issue 25, 2010. Download a copy of this article as a pdf here.

They’re doing this because they’re worried about you. If you were to have a hypo, you might not be able to treat yourself. If you show them you are responsible by testing yourself without being asked and recording your levels and eating correctly, they’ll become more confident. It’s very important that people around you know what to do in an emergency. You’ll probably find that before too long everything will calm down.

Diabetic Living Magazine. Issue 23, 2009.

I feel the only way to make your son feel confident is to balance his insulin and activity. This can be done by recording the time he tests, his blood glucose levels, the food eaten, his insulin doses/when he takes it and the exercise undertaken. His doctor or diabetes educator can advise on what changes to make. It’s important to understand how the insulin he uses actually works. By doing the above, it has helped me eliminate lots of hypos in my boys. To make it easier, we produce a Dia-log-it Record Book. Check it out here.

Diabetic Living Magazine. Issue 22, 2009.

This is a normal feeling from what I’ve heard. It is very important people know about his condition so they can help. There are camps for children with diabetes in most states and attending one and interacting with others in a similar situation may help your son feel less isolated and give him the confidence to tell his peers at school. If he still won’t, I suggest you step in and quietly inform those who need to know.

Diabetic Living Magazine. Issue 18, 2008.

No, its not. Most of them probably already know about his diabetes. It’s important to ensure he realises he must eat regular meals or have snacks. Alcohol can cause the blood sugar to drop. If he is intoxicated, he and his friends may confuse his hypo symptoms with drunkenness and not take action to boost his blood sugar. Interspersing alcoholic drinks with water or diet soda and regular snacking is a good precaution.

Diabetic Living Magazine. Issue 18, 2008.

Yes we do. Steve and I allow our children to eat everything. A lot of foods contain different forms of sugar (carbohydrates), such as fruit, bread and dairy. The trick is to adjust the insulin dose depending on the amount of carbohydrates contained in the meal. By doing this it gives you better control of your child’s blood glucose level and hopefully avoids unwanted highs and lows. If our children wish to eat extra food such as ice blocks that have not been calculated into that day of meals or their blood glucose level, I will not permit it. I give them a choice – they can eat the ice block, but they will need to have an extra injection, or they can go without the ice block and have no needle. I find that most of the time they choose the extra food and extra needle option. If you are interested in learning more about balancing food and insulin, I’m sure that your diabetes educator or dietitian would be happy to help you.

Diabetic Living Magazine. Issue 14, 2008.

Steve and the boys don’t change their routine very much around a game of football. Or any other sport, for that matter. They normally test their blood glucose level (BGL) before a game – Steve likes his level to be about 10mmol/L and about 12 mmol/L for the boys.  We always have jellybeans or some fast action glucose on the sideline just in case one of them has a hypo. They check their levels again at half time and if they are below 7mmol/L they will have some of the glucose or jellybeans to prevent a hypo form occurring in the second half. After the game we reduce the dose of insulin, as the body is replenishing its energy. We find that this can be a time when a hypo occurs.


Everyone is different and sport can affect the body in different ways. We find with one of our boys that adrenaline makes his BGLs rise. I suggest your son records his food intake, BGL, time of test, insulin dose and type of activity for the entire day of his game. By doing this he can look back at previous days where he did a similar type of exercise and may find a pattern. This will help him understand the affect the game has on his diabetes.

Diabetic Living Magazine. Issue 12, 2007.

Christmas can be a traumatic time for a lot of people who have diabetes. Wherever you go, there is always so much festive food, with temptations like lollies and cakes right under your nose. Now that the four boys and Steve all use insulin pumps, this period is not as stressful as it used to be. Christmas for us is almost the same as it would be if no one had diabetes, except for BGL testing and programming the pumps.


Lollies and soft drinks are the preferred choice of food for children on Christmas Day and the days leading up to it. We try to keep a close eye on our kids to make sure they don’t overindulge, but we do allow them to have these ‘treat’ foods in moderation as long as they put the carbohydrate amount into their insulin pumps.


Like most kids, ours usually wake up very early in the morning and are hugely excited, which means that at least one of our boys will have a hypo and need a few jellybeans. Our day generally starts with an early breakfast because everyone is awake, followed by morning tea to make sure there are no more hypos. Then a huge Christmas lunch for our extended family - either a cold menu or a traditional hot meal. We also allow them ‘treat' food in moderation and have to plan all the Christmas meals with gluten-free options for Billy and Freddie, who have coeliac disease as well as diabetes. For anyone who can still fit it in, dinner is usually leftovers form lunch. Unlike people on injections, who may need to eat to balance their insulin levels, using a pump means that Steve and the boys don’t have to eat unless they are hungry. Their levels will be fine if the basal rate (the slow trickle of insulin that prevents their BGLs rising) on their pump is correct.


I would say the only problem we have around food is when the boys forget to adjust their pumps and give themselves an insulin bolus (a short-acting burst of insulin) for some of the food or lollies they have eaten. Failing to do so right away can send their BGLs very high very quickly.  When this happens we have to act fast to correct it and wait for their levels to come down. This is the point where I step in and stop them eating ‘treat’ food until they can show me their levels are back in the normal range. As the day is usually so full of excitement and running around, we do have to watch out of hypos. Our boys are very good at noticing the symptoms, so they get over them pretty quickly and they all have a fantastic day with their cousins.

Diabetic Living Magazine. Issue 36, 2011.


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