Teenage diabetes: Chandler's story 

Chandler has type 1 diabetes. Find out how the condition has affected her life and the lives of those around her.

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Transcript of Teenage diabetes: Chandler's story

I was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes in October 2004.

Well, first I thought, "Oh, my God, why me?" But then...

And also I used to be terrified of injections,

so that whole thing just scared me completely.

All of a sudden I had a feeling that I needed to watch her more,

I had to keep her more in my care.

That wasn't going to be realistic

but it had an added scariness of saying,

"Oh, my gosh, I have an adolescent, I have to let go,"

not knowing if she really knew how to handle herself

in an unpredictable situation.

Firstly I was quite self-conscious.

"I don't want to be taking injections in front of everyone."

"This is really embarrassing."

"Everyone's going to think I'm shooting up in the middle of the lunch room."

In many ways she handled it a lot better than I did

because as a parent I think you just want

to do whatever you can for your children and you want to be able to fix it.

And that just wasn't something I was going to be able to do.

If I didn't medicate that would be a very, very bad thing

and not a wise idea.

Basically my blood sugars would go really, really high

and I would start to feel dizzy.

If I then continued to not take insulin,

I would get ill, probably throw up and then eventually die.

It was very scary.

It was probably one of the few things in my life that have shaken me to my core.

In addition to understanding the disease

and then the questions, "What does it mean longer-term?"

And you couldn't fix it,

you couldn't take your treatments and in two or three years it would be over.

When you have Type 1 diabetes

you have to consider and calculate the carbohydrates in your meals.

If I was to have a piece of toast,

I'd be like, "That's 20 grams of carbohydrates."

I have one unit of insulin for every time I eat 20 grams of carbohydrates.

That's kind of a foreign idea.

I hadn't ever considered food as something to be calculated.

Sometimes school lunch can be a bit difficult

because you don't really know what's in the strange sauces

or things that we don't really know what they actually are.

It was about working with it, and I could help Chandler,

but at the end of the day it was something she was going to have to own

and she was going to have to be motivated

to do the blood sugar testing

and really controlling and experimenting

to see how foods work with her body.

And she just took that challenge on so admirably.

I was sort of more in pieces

and she was sort of moving forward to the next page.

At the beginning it is a bit tricky and you do make mistakes.

You have to expect that, I suppose.

But in the long run you kind of get into a pattern

and it becomes habit and everything just becomes second nature.

With her love of sport, her big question was,

"Will they still allow me to compete in sports competitions?"

That blew me away because I wasn't even thinking about sports,

but "What are we talking about?"

It definitely affects my sports.

I have to check my blood sugars a lot more frequently when I'm playing sport

because the difficulty is the sports that I do,

I do quite competitive sprinting,

and that's difficult because adrenaline in sport

brings your blood sugars up quite rapidly.

The key to it is monitoring everything.

She wanted to keep going with something that she loved

and she just didn't want diabetes to get into the way.

I think that's what really got her on track after her diagnosis.

A few months after I was diagnosed I moved on to the insulin pump,

which I can show you.

It's here and it's connected there.

This was a really good change for me.

It definitely gives a lot more flexibility.

It's kind of like a bigger injection, but once every three days,

and it pumps in the insulin throughout the day.

You still have to calculate the carbohydrates in your food and whatnot

and how much you'll put in.

It's a lot finer measurements.

It goes up in 0.1 of a unit, so you can have slightly tighter control.

Sometimes I get little red spots,

so when I'm going to the beach or something

sometimes I walk around like this.

I don't really like to wear bikinis or whatever.

But I think I've also got over that.

At the beginning that was a bit of a nightmare.

I think if you approach diabetes Type 1 with a positive attitude

and more of a "I can do this. How will I do it?"

instead of a "This is a nightmare. Why did I get this?"

it definitely just becomes a part of who you are.

I think it's almost given her a new sense of power,

like "I can do things. I can overcome challenges."

"This is my first one, there may be others ahead."

So I think in some ways it's actually made her a stronger person,

more confident, and not let anything hold her back,

and as a mother I'm really proud of her too.

Just kind of integrate it into your life

because everyone can control it, you just have to put in the effort.

And it's really worth it in the end because when it is controlled,

you feel like you're just like everyone else.


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