The Phoenix Zine

Ten Questions With Caroline

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It’s easy to feel alone when you have a chronic illness. In an effort to create a sense of community among my readers I will feature a different teen or young adult every month who has had to deal with chronic illness. I’m hoping that through reading their answers you will see something you can identify with and know that you are not alone.

The ten questions I came up with are meant to show that people who have chronic illness are still normal people with their own hopes and dreams. At the same time, they must deal with situations that aren’t normal, which is why I feature questions about how they cope. If you have different questions you would like to have answered, please send me a message and I will consider them for the next edition.

Caroline was diagnosed at age 10 with type 1 diabetes. Now she’s in grade 12 and about to graduate. I met her at church and I’ve found her to be a friendly, honest and caring individual. When I asked her to be my first interviewee for this blog she readily agreed and I am happy to be able to post her answers now.

Question: Who are your role models?

Answer: My mother is my number one role model. She is so resilient and optimistic. She has always been so supportive and willing to sacrifice time and money to ensure I’m receiving the best care possible.

My diabetes nurse, Donna Emmons, was also incredibly supportive. She knew how to calm me down and make me laugh whenever I became stressed, which was all too often. Unfortunately, she passed away a little over a year ago from cancer. Although her passing was untimely and she is greatly missed, she inspired me to pursue the same career. I hope to one day give to other diabetics what she gave to me; the true understanding of diabetic life that only a diabetic them self can understand (she also had type I diabetes).

Q: What are your dreams for the future?

A: My dreams for the future are to become a nurse, get married, have children, but above all be happy. Life can take you anywhere, but it is ultimately up to you whether you’ll smile or frown.

Q: What do you like to do in your spare time?

A: In my spare time I like to exercise (jogging, exercise ball, Pilates), cook, bake, and read.

Q: Are any of your activities limited by your illness?

A: Yes, exercising is some what limited by diabetes. It’s so hard to ensure my blood glucose stays in check while active because there are so many factors that effect blood sugar.

Q: Where does your information about your illness come from?

A: The information about my diabetes comes from the Charles H. Best Diabetes Centre for Children and Youth. They are always up-to-date on the latest diabetes technology.

Q: Does having diabetes hinder your personal relationships?

A: Diabetes has strengthened the majority of my relationships because it has made me a more compassionate and communicative person. However, I find it hard to relate to people my own age. I know this is the result of a difference in maturity level. I’ve had to grow up fast because caring for diabetes requires attention and vigilance. Fortunately, I have several amazing friends of whom I can relate to and completely confide in.

Q: Do you have any fears about your illness?

A: I fear the complications that can result from poor diabetes control. Although I take excellent care of myself and am doing very well, I can’t help wondering, “what if?” Although it is unlikely, I also fear if I have children, they will become diabetic. I handle these fears by taking every day as it comes. There is a saying: “There is enough to worry about today, without worrying about tomorrow.”

Q: If you’re feeling stressed, what helps you relax the most?

A: Any form of exercise, cooking, but most of all talking with others helps me relax. I find when you are with other people, your problems come into perspective and you’ve found you have actually exaggerated the circumstance that brought on the stress.

Q: What question would you most like answered about diabetes?

A: I would most like to know the cause of diabetes. I want to know if it is hereditary, is it a chromosomal mutation, and of course can it be cured or prevented.

Q: What do you find is the hardest thing about having diabetes?

A: The hardest thing about diabetes is the effect it’s had on my self-esteem. With all the counting and monitoring, I’ve become somewhat of a control freak. The strong focus on food and exercise has unfortunately led me down the path of disordered eating and poor body image. Sadly, after 4 years I am still in the grips of an eating disorder. I believe this is because I feel I’m flawed on the inside, and so I blame what I can see – the outside.

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