Guest post from my now adult daughter: A letter to her teenage self

July 10, 2014By 6 Comments

 

Dear Teen Me: (on the right): Duck lips were never a good idea. They will haunt you in the future. (but Kelsey will be your bff by your side forever, duck lips or not)

Dear Teen Me: (on the right): Duck lips were never a good idea. They will haunt you in the future. (but Kelsey will be your bff by your side forever, duck lips or not)

 

My daughter Lauren, so often the topic of this blog (and the reason for it) graduated college in May and is working at a really incredible company called HCM Strategists in Washington, DC. She is on her way to living her dream of being a health care advocate and maybe some day, POTUS [insert proud mom geeky face here.] She is also going to start sharing this blog space with me more often. Yes, despitediabetes will be both of us – two unique points of view. Today, I asked her to write a letter for her teenage self to read. Yeah, it made me cry. With pride. I hope you’ll share it).

 

Dear Teenage Lauren,

I wanted to start by telling you that just because you are going through a hard time in your life now does not mean this is forever. I promise you: it really will get easier. The teen years are already a pain in butt and you were just fortunate enough to have a chronic disease thrown into the mix. It won’t be an easy couple of years for you, but you will make it through. Here are a few pointers from your future self to help guide you there. (And listen to future you! I know of what I speak!):

1. STOP feeling so guilty all of the time. You are not the only person out there who is a teenager struggling with your diabetes care. Even if you feel like everyone else is just rocking it and you must be flawed because you are not, that’s just not the case. Give yourself a break: this is hard. Constantly being extremely hard on yourself about it isn’t going to help. Seek advice from all of those awesome older people with diabetes you know. (Hello camp friends and diabetes advocacy friends? You have a ton of them. Use them. Lean on them!) Talking about it with people who understand what you’re going through is way better than worrying about it at 2 a.m. instead of sleeping. Sleeping is always more important. Sleep kind of rocks.

2. You ARE NOT going to die of complications. As much as people will try to use that as a scare tactic, it’s not true. Diabetes care has improved vastly and messing up for a few years IS NOT going to make you go blind, or lose a leg, or whatever anyone else tells you. Future you has had some conversations with some pretttttttttttttttty smart doctors and they agree. So I’m going to say it again and you are going to believe it: you are NOT going to die of complications. It’s not hopeless. Which brings me to my next tip:

3. DO NOT look at that as reason to slack off with your care. I know it’s really hard to remember how much better you feel with a better A1C, but I can tell you it makes a HUGE difference. Your grades, sports teams, and parents have already suffered enough. You are smart, dedicated, and personable, but when your blood sugar is high all the time you’re lazy, unmotivated, and kind of a biatch. I know how much easier it is to just pretend you don’t have diabetes, but you will feel and act SO much better if you try even just a little bit. Perfection is not the goal. Do as much as YOU can without overbearing yourself. Once you begin to feel better, you’ll see what I mean.

4. I know you and I know how much of an addiction lying about your diabetes can be. Try to tell the truth as often as you can, no matter what. Because guess what? People will want to help you. I know Mom gets mad sometimes, but she’s not mad about your care, she’s mad about the lying. When you feel like you need to lie, tell her. She is pretty understanding and really wants to do all she can to get you out of this “diabetes burn out slump.” Open up, no matter how ugly you think the truth might be. The help you get might just be beautiful. An aside: even if you cannot stand to be near them, you need your parents now. And you know it, if you dig deep enough. You know it.

5. On a not related to diabetes note, stop wearing all of those short jean skirts: they are hideous; top crying about dumb boys who you’ll later realize you’re way too good for, and SERIOUSLY JUST STOP accepting the free cellphone covers from the creepy employee at the mall. He is a weirdo.

The teen years are rough, and one day you’ll look back on it and laugh. But for now: focus on trying to be a better you. Not the perfect you, but the better you. Because even if you cannot check a billion times a day; even if you don’t want to wear your CGM right now; even if the best you can do is the basic minimum, finding a way to live with all this in semi-peace is the best route. I hope you listen to me. I didn’t have a note like this, so I learned the hard way.

One last thing: You’ve got this! All that advocacy volunteering you did, that summer program in DC, your obsession with learning all there is to learn about government and advocacy? It’s all going to pay  off.

See? A real smile is so much better.

See? A real smile is so much better.

Filed in: AdvocacyCampsdiabetes helpDKA in teensfeaturedInspirationJDRFJDRF Children's CongressKids CanTeen Years and the challenges Tags:

Comments (6)

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  1. Katie says:

    Now, if only you could time travel!

    Such wise words, Lauren. Most people with diabetes do learn the hard way. But maybe this will shorten the lesson!

  2. Jessica Grim says:

    Bawling like a baby over here. I might just have to print this out and stick it inside my copy of Raising Teens With Diabetes to pass along to Angelina in the future.

    Moira and Lauren: You both rock! I am so glad to “know” both of you and am so grateful that you both have shared your journey so openly, even if it is one of wrong turns, detours and bumpy roads along the way. Thank you so much for being “real”!!!

  3. Colleen says:

    Will be sharing this with friends!

  4. Lauren M. says:

    I will be printing this out and saving it for my son when he needs it one day. Moira and Lauren – you are not just changing the world through advocacy and lobbying, you are changing it by reaching people on an individual level and making their lives better. I am so grateful.

  5. Nancy Tidwell says:

    Lauren (and Moira), even though my daughter has had the best A1C this past dr. visit since she was in grade school, and we coped with forgetting lancets on a trip to Tennessee – I am still going to print out this letter for her. I think its great to have that kind of support! Thanks so much.

  6. Susan OConnell says:

    Wow, Lauren, it took me 45 years to come to those conclusions. And it isn’t just teenagers that feel guilty. The more diabetics you meet, the more you find out they are just like you. Let’s not forget that far too many health care providers, including endocrinologists, verbally wag their fingers at us if things aren’t where they want them. Don’t ever accept that. Your HCPs should be your allies, and if you can’t trust them, find another. I found a wonderful Endocrinology NP in Northampton MA who believes there is no morality in blood sugars. The are target-range, high or low. No “good” or “bad”.Keep on with the struggle, sister!

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