Top 10 Diabetic Teen Tips: Doctor Visits, Insulin Absorption, New Treatments

Dr. Fran Cogen Health Pro
  • Partnering with your diabetes doctor to get the information YOU want (without your parents asking the questions).


    Every three to four months, the dreaded realization that it is time to visit your diabetes doctor comes to the surface. A million things come into your mind. You forgot to write down your blood sugars! You have to collect all your meters (at home, school, girlfriend's/boyfriend's, work, gym, etc.) And you worry and think to yourself: have I been counting carbohydrates correctly? Have I been slowly increasing  portion sizes? Have I been rotating my injection/catheter sites? Just thinking of all these diabetes self-care tasks is enough to increase your blood sugar!

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    In visits with my teen patients, parents often accompany them into the office and, in many cases, ask questions: their questions. Sometimes teens don't really get to ask what they really want to know because they don't get the chance, don't want to give information while a parent is present, or don't really know what to ask. (It is very common for kids and adults to forget what they want to discuss with their doctor). Often, there just isn't enough time for the doctor to meet with you alone and then with parents.


    As you may have already discovered, diabetes management is a team effort. Family, friends, school personnel, and healthcare providers work together to help you master diabetes care. To ensure you get the information that you need, I would propose a sports analogy. You are the "captain" of your team since you enact the playbook. Your team members include friends, family, school nurses, and assistant coaches (diabetes nurses, dieticians etc.) Your doctor or nurse practitioner is the head coach who advises, supports, positively reinforces and sensitively criticizes the play of the team. The team is under your leadership with the guidance of the coaching staff. You win (or lose) the game depending on how you play.


    Here are my top ten tips to partnering with your coaches and team to get the most out of your quarterly visit and successfully manage your diabetes.

    1. Bring all meters/written records to the visit. Without blood sugars there is not much we can do to adjust your insulin doses/basal rates/insulin/carbohydrate ratios, etc. Unfortunately, doctors can't tell how you are doing by just looking at you!
    2. Ask your parent(s) if you could visit with the head coach alone. Have them write down their questions so you can ask. If necessary, suggest that the doctor spends a few minutes with them after your visit.
    3. Write down any questions that you may have (in advance) so that you remember to ask. Ask those questions that you are afraid to ask. (HINT: the stuff you don't want to discuss with your parents.) We want you to be safe.
    4. Fill out all forms ahead of time. Having this information ready will make the session go much faster.
    5. Make a list of all needed prescriptions so that you don't get stuck without insulin (or test strips) on your Saturday night date!
    6. Know what your lab tests mean. If you don't know the meaning of an hb A1C, ask.
    7. Be prepared for your coach to examine you and look for puffy areas that may be preventing insulin absorption, etc.
    8. If you are sad, mad, glad, etc., please share! We want to know.
    9. Go ahead and ask about research and the latest technology. You may be eligible for a study or glucose sensor!
    10. Be honest with your coaches. If you don't share what is really going on (making up blood sugars to please parents, reckless behavior, etc.) we can't help you win the game.

    Remember, the goal is to win and be successful in mastering your diabetes care to live a happy and productive life.



Published On: June 02, 2008