14 Responses

  1. Joe
    Joe April 6, 2013 at 6:00 am | | Reply

    It isn’t kids that are cruel, adults in the same situation can be just as bad.
    I feel for this kid and wish her the best. And my advice, the best revenge is growing up and leaving those ******** behind. :-)

  2. Sarah
    Sarah April 6, 2013 at 6:17 am | | Reply

    I feel bad for her situation. It is not easy to deal with the nasty rumors. Maybe it will be better if the teachers will increase awareness to the students about the diabetes so that they would understand the situation. Eliminating ignorance will definitely help to solve the problem. If not, ask the principal for help. I wish good luck to the student.

  3. Leighann Calentine
    Leighann Calentine April 6, 2013 at 8:29 am | | Reply

    I have another suggestion that doesn’t necessarily stop the comments but might change the way she internalizes (or doesn’t internalize!) them…

    I would suggest attending diabetes camp or finding a group of teens with type 1 diabetes in her community (and the school nurse might be able to help her connect). Being around others with diabetes she’ll not only be able to share her feelings with other kids who get it, but she’ll feel less alone and maybe the comments won’t bother her.

    My daughter is much younger (and maybe it’s her naiveté), but she’s quick to correct people who get it wrong and she is even more quick to educate people everywhere she goes. She does her diabetes management out in the open and doesn’t hide her pump or CGM and it often sparks questions and conversations.

    You’ve got this, Taylor…and we’ve got your back!

  4. Denise
    Denise April 6, 2013 at 8:32 am | | Reply

    I blame the news..Often when they talk about diabetes the never say type 1 or 2…They just lump them together. It make s my daughter and I so mad. (She’s 15 and a type 1). Even though she is not over weight, people link it to eating to much sugar. :(

    She plays both tennis and volleyball and is dang good…There is a kind of power and confidants that comes with participating in a sport…no matter what it is! I would suggest our young friend try out a new sport or better yet the Debate team. :)

  5. Mary Dexter
    Mary Dexter April 6, 2013 at 10:25 am | | Reply

    Too often, efforts to dispel myths result in propagating them. Why do you assume that she is fat? Adolescent girls come in all shapes and sizes. Some are voluptuous women; others resemble skinny boys. It’s also a time when other physiological problems become evident: PCOS, scoliosis. Research has also shown that, to compensate for increased growth, up as well as out, some adolescent bodies become more resistant to insulin, just as some do with gestational diabetes.
    If you are basing her weight on what she says or what others are saying about her, keep in mind that often girls are told they are fat, or going to become fat, as soon as their weight goes over 100 lbs. With boys, the bigger the better.

  6. Kate
    Kate April 6, 2013 at 10:49 am | | Reply

    I love this! So well said. Life shouldn’t be so hard, but it is. I especially appreciate your handling of the realities of T2. It’s difficult when people with T1 say “My diabetes isn’t because I’m overweight. That’s the other kind.” Thank you for doing such a good job of ‘splaining it.

  7. Jamie
    Jamie April 6, 2013 at 11:45 am | | Reply

    I vote for changing the name of Type 1 Diabetes or just dropping the diabetes all together as my 12-year-old son’s diabetic fiend and family does. When poeple ask what Type 1 is, she has an opportunity to educate them on the awful disease many of us are struggling to live with. This keeps her from dealing with people’s unfair misconceptions about this disease.

  8. Nancy
    Nancy April 6, 2013 at 5:25 pm | | Reply

    To add to that “survival of the fittest” argument, some postulate that Type1 diabetes is a “side effect,” if you will, of a supercharged, very effective immune system – the pancreas occasionally gets hit with friendly fire. So, maybe Taylor can feel the tiniest bit superior in her over-achieving immune system? I know… wouldn’t really help me either…

    I think the best thing all of us can do is just keep combating the stupid out there. Anyone else come across that stupid meme on Facebook with the arithmetic “story problem” about Billy and his 32 candy bars, of which he eats 28? The punchline – what does Billy have now? Diabetes. ERG. Every time that pops up on my timeline, I will say something about its wrongness. Yes, he can have a stomachache, but diabetes? I don’t THINK so.

  9. anonymous
    anonymous April 7, 2013 at 10:19 pm | | Reply

    I can’t help but think of the “It gets better project”. Google it. While it is devoted to bullying centered around being LGBT, it really has brought to light how prevalent bullying is today. It also however gives me great hope. The messages on the facebook wall for it are inspirational. Most of them effectively boil down to someone who was tortured in adolescence, but has overcome it. Grown up, moved on, found happiness.

    I echo the mother’s comment above about engaging with others in the diabetic community. Volunteering for JDRF events is a great way to meet other kids AND adults with the disease. I loved camp – and if you are high school – you might even be able to be a camp counselor.

    I’d love to tell you there is a magic cure – a way to stop bullying, but there isn’t. It is f*cking hard. But it does get better with time and age. We grow up, we mature, we stop being quite so mean. I think I wish I had relished the few close friendships I had in high school, instead of being so obsessed with what other’s thought… Hang in there!

  10. Denise
    Denise April 8, 2013 at 7:31 am | | Reply

    One quick ocmeback that might educate without being long winded is, “My diabetes isn’t due to weight–I’m just insulin deficient.” The word “diabetes” confuses peopple. Rather than give a name that no body really knows what it even means, you could just say what’s wrong.

  11. Amy A
    Amy A April 12, 2013 at 7:41 am | | Reply

    I agree with the education approach. I was lucky to have a teacher who actually did his homework and explained the whole diabetes thing to my class. He got it right too! This was in the early 80′s, so I think that is saying a lot. The school nurse, an outside speaker, your mom or dad could step up to the plate too if you are too nervous about speaking in front of the class yourself or if your teacher is reluctant.

    I also showed the class how to give an injection. Most of them had some sort of weird awe about that. I think they started to realize what courage it took to live with Type 1 and had some sort of respect for that. Maybe that would help too – but get adult permission first.

    Finally, remember this…you are smarter than them. You know the difference in diabetes types, you know what they are saying is hurtful and wrong, you know how to take care of yourself with this extra burden…they do not. While mean monkeys may have helped us survive, the smart ones were the ones who made us better!

    Best wishes to you!

  12. Kelly Rawlings
    Kelly Rawlings April 12, 2013 at 8:17 am | | Reply

    If you like the It Gets Better video messages, there’s the diabetes-specific You Can Do This Project, with real and encouraging messages about living with diabetes:

  13. Robin Taylor
    Robin Taylor April 14, 2013 at 1:25 pm | | Reply

    Thanks, Amy A for responding! The only one who really understands is someone who’s been there and done that! To Taylor, I’ve also been there and done that, and also was in middle school (then called jr hi) when scarlet fever was the stress that ended my islet cells. And, I truly was a fat kid! The only positive thing was that, while the diabetes was uncontrolled, I did lose weight–rapidly–pleased my mom and alerted my doctor that something was very wrong.
    I gave myself my first shot on March 18, 1966, so I’ve seen a lot of changes! But, back to school! I lived in an area where the school district could not afford school nurses, so I had to bring everything myself and do everything myself. Glucose meters were still 20 years in the future, and the only way to monitor blood sugar was once a week I got to leave school early to go to the doc’s office for a blood draw. I made it seem like a special privilege to the snot-noses! At first, I was very secretive about the diabetes, and hated it when I was changed from one big wallop of NPH before I went to school, to a regimen using NPH as a basal and boluses of Regular 20-30 mins before each meal. That meant either I did not eat lunch–in which case I’d be low every afternoon–or I had to do shots at school. (This was the state-of-the-art at that time) This was also the time of the late ’60′s early ’70′s drug culture, and that gave me special mystique (remember we’re talking about teens here), especially when I discovered that the other kids were either grossed out or impressed that I did shots myself in my stomach, so I stopped being shy about it!
    There weren’t any dipsticks either, so until 1970 to test for urine sugar, one had to use the Clinitest, which involved dropping a reagent tablet into a test tube with 2 drops of urine and 5 drops of water and observing the color change when the hot foaming reaction subsided. The chemistry teacher gave me an A for the term just for demonstrating and explaining this copper-reduction test in front of the class! That made me a cool mad scientist in the eyes of the dum***s boys.
    Then, because this was the time of the hippie drug culture, there were three times when police came in searching lockers and bags–no civil liberties lawyers around for us!–and I was sitting in the principal’s office between 2 cops while they called my doctor to verify that I legitimately had “drug paraphernalia” in my possession. When the queen bees saw the principal and a police sergeant actually apologizing to me for the “misunderstanding,” they spread the word around that made me cooler than they were!
    Did I mention that, because the school district was afraid of liability if I had “a diabetic fit” in PE, I was actually exempted from the required gym classes (no “Carrie” scenes for me) in favor of art and music.
    This all sounds silly, but that’s how adolescents think. I turned being a diabetic fearsome freak into being a diabetic superfreak with special privileges. The person who gave me the most grief in school was the Latin teacher, who thought I was somehow faking diabetes to get these “special privileges” and “extra attention” and she hadn’t like my big brother when he was in her classes. So I dropped her class and got the school to offer Russian. The late Mrs. Darby was a vindictive person, and she did bar me from National Honor Society membership. I got back at her by being elected to Math Honor Society (MuAlphaTheta), which at that time was quite an accomplishment for a girl.
    Here’s the cliche, Taylor, but it’s true: when life hands you a lemon, make lemonade. People were a**holes nearly 50 years ago, and they are still a**holes, especially teenagers and more especially teenaged boys. When I got to high school, I found there was one other diabetic kid, Billy B, who was intimidated and coped by being the sick kid and garnering pity from the girls and contempt from the boys. I’m ashamed to admit that I avoided him, because I didn’t want to be like him.
    Will’s post didn’t say which insulin delivery method or glucose monitoring method you use, but if your folks are lucky enough to the insurance or the $$$ to get you a pump and CGM, then that makes you the coolest kid around because you are a cyborg! If you are using a garden variety fingerstick meter, bloodletting is always supersick to teenaged kids. The meter seems to be magic, so read the enclosed literature with the meter and the strips and become a supergeek by understanding the technology.
    Don’t let yourself be bullied by the a**holes! If being chubby is an issue for you (and the post does NOT say so), the answer is “I’ll survive the coming famine and you won’t!” or similar. If the other kid is fatter, then “The aliens will eat you first.” Do I sound like I’m recommending counter-bullying to you, well, that’s the reality of being a teen in America. It’s great that adults can say “use this as an opportunity to educate them about the true nature of diabetes,” but kids don’t respond to that when you have an immediate situation.
    Of course, NEVER let anyone’s comments or bad attitude prevent you from taking care of yourself. Do what you need to do when you need to do it, and if someone objects, that’s their problem and they should remove themselves. In a school setting, if someone tries to make you go hide somewhere to test or dose, remind them that the ADA and IDEA laws give you the right to sue for discrimination (This has happened in California). If someone tries to belittle you for not taking a soda or a hunk of cake or some other junk food, respond “My body is a temple, and I do not poison it with that stuff;” there’s enough awareness now of the dangers of excess sugars and food additive that you won’t be the only one.
    When I was 13, a very wise man, Donald Starkweather (who was an LPN at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Diabetes Hospital) told me and a group of other people fairly new to the diabetes life, “Diabetes is something you can DIE FROM. It is also something you can LIVE WITH. There is a world of difference between those two statements, and that world is within your control.” Make the choice to LIVE WITH diabetes, and dance on the graves of those who harass you!
    My mother was convinced that diabetes was death sentence, and I wouldn’t live past 30. She was wrong: I’m pushing 60, have children and grandchildren, a driver’s license and college degrees and teaching credentials. I have normal blood pressure and cholesterols (most “Type 1″ people do) and I’m still a fat girl who really enjoys a nice little brownie with her salad. (Those FiberOne brownies are pretty tasty)
    I don’t know where you live, but her in Northern California, I found that some people understand this analogy: Being diabetic is like being gay. I was born this way. I didn’t ask for it, I didn’t cause it, it just IS. It’s part of my life, but isn’t ALL of my life. Remember “We’re here, we’re queer, get over it!” Well, get over it!
    You will get discouraged at times, you will sometimes feel helpless and curse G-d and Nature and the world for making you this way. You are allowed to have a short tantrum; you are allowed to bitch about it , but you are NOT allowed to give up.
    Make the promise to yourself that you will love yourself and take care of yourself for who you are, a lovable, capable and worthy human being.
    Lots of good qi to you, Taylor. I’ll expect to see you dance at my great-granddaughter’s christening–in 2035.

  14. Lindsay Bornau
    Lindsay Bornau May 1, 2013 at 9:22 am | | Reply

    I remember when I was first diagnosed (I was 7), first I was down and out with the stomach flu (the dreaded trigger) and then I was going to the hospital every day with my mom to learn how to manage it. By the time I got back to school my fellow classmates were pretty confused as to my extended absence. I was advised by my grade 3 teacher to write a report on my newly diagnosed disease and present it to the class. Everyone had a ton of questions but by the end of it they were all eager to learn about symptoms of low blood sugar and look after me accordingly. This helped ease my mom’s mind a lot as well.
    Unfortunately the next year I moved to a new town, and had to explain my situation to a whole new group of students, but I took the same approach. I was the only diabetic in my school at the time and, to be honest, testing my blood sugar at lunch somehow made me the coolest girl in the class for the whole 30 seconds it took to poke myself. My afternoon snack in the middle of class caused some jealously in my classmates as well and on rare occasion a few of them even said “you’re so lucky, I wish I had diabetes” (oh naive children haha)
    But where I didn’t receive much bullying for my diabetes, my mom did. Old women in the grocery store would accuse her of feeding me too much sugar and of not being a good mom. She felt awful for years and believed it was all somehow her fault until finally doctors told her otherwise and told her there was nothing she could have done (despite me telling her the same thing lol)
    But together we’ve stuck it out for the last 15 years, despite people still badgering us both. I can feel for young Taylor here and I hope she knows that no matter what there will always be someone in her life who knows the truth alongside her and that she takes comfort in knowing she’s not alone. There will always be people like the kids she goes to school with, unfortunately, but it’s how we deal with circumstances like this that makes us who we are. Be a tough cookie kid, you’ve got an army of T1D standing with you ;)

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