Although being a teenager is challenging, there are many perks and benefits you get as you grow up. Going out without your parents for the first time makes you feel like a superstar. When you step into high school on your first day you feel like a big kid. When you start to drive, you feel like an adult. In New Jersey, you get your permit at the age of 16 and your license at the age of 17. When you are 16, you need an adult in the car with you at all times and you need to complete a "Behind the Wheel" instructional driving program and pass a written test first. For most teenagers, this is a fun and exciting experience where you begin to gain more and more independence and responsibility. In fact, today, I received my permit! I immediately wanted to take my mom on a ride and drive around my town. However, before I turned the car on, buckled my seatbelt, and put the car in drive, I had one extra step that most teenagers do not have to worry about. I had to check my blood sugar.
Driving with diabetes is very serious and requires total cooperation. Before driving, it is important to check your blood sugar and make sure that it is in a good range. It is also important to make sure that a glucometer and juice packs or snacks if your blood sugar goes low is also within reach in the car. If your blood sugar is too high or too low when you are driving, you may not focus as well and you run the risk of possibly passing out from hypoglycemia while driving. Personally, I know that when my blood sugar gets very very high, my vision becomes blurry, which would not be a good thing while driving! Every second and decision matters when driving, so it is important that your blood sugar is good so you can concentrate on the road.
The second time I went driving with my instructor, I had been in the car for about an hour after school, when I started to feel shaky. I was apprehensive at first because I was so new to driving, but I decided that it is better to be safe than sorry. I told my instructor before we began driving that I had diabetes and what I would need to do in the event of an emergency. Right away, I told my instructor that I felt my blood sugar dropping. I pulled over, checked and saw that my sugar was 90. So, I took a juice and waited a few minutes to check again and make sure that my blood sugar rose to an appropriate number. If I had not stopped and pulled over, I know that my blood sugar would have continued to drop until I was very low. It was important that I was listening to my body while I was driving, or else I might have been in a dangerous situation.
With growing up comes more and more responsibilities for every teenager. Although these changes and experiences are exciting, it is sometimes difficult or stressful to manage so many new responsibilities in life for anyone, and with the added challenge of type 1 diabetes, those new experiences can be even more difficult to handle. However, as long as you are able to control your diabetes and listen to your body, you can do anything you want. I had to make sure that I informed my driving instructor of my diabetes and that I had my glucometer and juice packs with me, and now I can drive! With appropriate control, cooperation, and management, you can conquer any new challenge that life throws at you.
Hello everyone! I'm Hannah! I'm 16 years old and have been living a normal life with type 1 diabetes for 10 years! I'm so excited to share the journey of Penpals United with you through our blog!