Guest Posts

Jasper’s Diabetes Story: Teenagers, Diabetes and Wellbeing

I'm Jasper I'm 17 and I'm a Type 1 Diabetic. it's part of my life. Every day, I wake up, test my blood sugar levels. I go to bed, test my blood sugar levels. All throughout the day as well I'm just managing it all the time How I manage it? I really love the sport, so I check myself before, after, and even during just to get the best out of what I do on and off the water. For Jasper, his sport's rowing
and he's got a great passion for rowing, but incorporating that into his life it's really about being in tune with your body and understanding how your body performs. Being a diabetic he has to be really across that. What we say to families is to
keep an eye on your teenager make sure that they're managing okay that their mental health is under control and ask them regularly 'how are they going' and if they need any additional support. Jasper has lots of stresses. He's got lots of homework stresses he's got sporting stresses he wants to do well in all of those subjects and all those sporting events so he has to manage that those stresses as well as just being a grumpy teenager at times.

It's a difficult thing for him to do at times. So he has to balance these things out and having a focus like sport really tunes his mind. We also say to parents that a little bit of stress is good but too much stress can be detrimental to their health, so try and find out right balance of mental health of physical health and stress. We're doing a lot of work looking at the school environment to try and implement some new strategies within schools to improve their care of young people with Type 1 Diabetes. I would encourage all schools
to have a have a service for diabetics.

They spend so much time here that it's important they have the support given to them to make their life as normal as possible, because as parent you can't be there all the time. The school really helps by first of all letting teachers know that I have Type 1 Diabetes. Even in exams I'm given a rest time where it's like extra time added on if I if I go low or if I'm not feeling right. Which is really helpful.

I've had to go to a number of camps
for Jasper, the last one was the Pilbara Rowing Tour. The Pilbara Rowing Tour
was an interesting experience. He hates the idea of having a parent come along, because
he wants to be independent. He wants to be as independent
as anybody else in that team. Definitely with age comes independence. I'm 17 now and I still feel like I rely way too much my parents, but being independent is probably
one of the most important things about being a Type 1 Diabetic. You have to be on it all the time even if your parents are out
or not home.

Some of the work that we're doing at the moment is looking at stress and anxiety innovative ways that suit young people – using mobile technology – apps on their phones or their iPad and this is also great for kids who can't access mental health services within the
metropolitan areas. So kids who are in rural
and remote areas. The app asks questions rated on a scale,
so how happy are you feeling right now? How upset are you feeling right now? And the idea is to really gain a picture of what's happening over their day and how their mood fluctuates and then look at how that's associated with fluctuations in their blood glucose levels. So my advice to teenagers with Type 1 Diabetes would be that you spend a lot of time looking after your physical health, but your mental health is really important too. It's okay to ask for help.

Allow your child to be who they need to be and don't let the diabetes dictate an outcome. Let them life their life to the fullest and let them do the things
they need to do. Some advice I would give would be definitely just to step back and take a look out like how you're going and how you're traveling with your levels. My friends play a really important role in my managing my levels. All my crew members know that
I'm a Type 1 Diabetic.

It's really good because if they see something's not right with me they're on it straight away, and help me out just to make sure everything keeps clicking along..

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