Just like every other teen… with a twist

For Elijah Booth, being diagnosed with Type-1 diabetes as he was on the cusp of becoming a teenager, was a challenge he wasn’t expecting.
“I had been skateboarding with my mate only hours before and came off my board. A broken collarbone and being told I had diabetes – it wasn’t the greatest day.”
“I remember immediately thinking, can I still go to McDonalds with my friends? Me and my mum still talk about that moment in the doctor’s office. We were both in a bit of a daze.”
For Elijah, the days that followed in hospital were like learning a new school subject – but with scary consequences if he didn’t get it right.
“Learning about what my blood sugars mean, the different types of insulin I’d need, doing calculations every time I ate, and having to inject myself constantly when I had always been terrified of needles. It was pretty overwhelming – oh, and doing it all with one arm because the other one was in a sling!”
Elijah reflected that two years in, being Type-1 had just become part of who he is.
“It was all so huge at the start, and there was so much to learn. But now I can’t really remember what life was like before I had diabetes. It’s definitely not easy, and I feel like it’s always just there, hanging around. My friends just get up, go to school, hang out and play sports. I do those things too – but not without thinking about what my blood sugars are doing.”
“But, there’s some definite benefits – like I know so much about how my body works, and can look at a plate of food and tell you exactly how many carbs are in it.”
“All of my mates reckon I became a faster runner, and that I could jump higher once I started taking insulin too. I’m not sure how accurate that is, but they call me ‘Octane’ now,” he laughs. “Amazing to think though how much I obviously really needed that insulin.”
He said using technology had been a big help and had enabled him to do all the things like his friends, without having to stop and finger prick all the time.
“I play rugby, basketball, volleyball, I go mountain biking and I skate. And when I’m not playing sport, I’m painting.”
A painting by Elijah “King Basquiat”
“I haven’t let diabetes stop me, but finger pricking literally means you have to stop. So, now I use a pump, and the Dexcom. They have been game-changers for me. Mum reckons I never stop eating, and with the pump now, I can eat whenever I want because it works it all out for me.”
“And the Dexcom is awesome. I’m less worried about lows now when I’m playing sport because of the alarms, and mum isn’t ringing me every second to ask me what my blood sugars are because she can see them update every five minutes through the connected app.”
Elijah said having diabetes has helped him when he comes up against other things that are tough.
“I kind of just think, if I can do Type-1 every day, I can handle this.”
A typical teen? Yes. Type-1 and getting on with it? Yes.
A reflection from Elijah’s mum, six months on from his diagnosis:
Yesterday it was World Diabetes Day. Six months ago, I would never have known such a day existed. The plight of this lifelong and life threatening condition is 24/7. For Elijah, for his family and friends who support him, it’s always the uninvited acquaintance tagging along. A simple skate with friends, a sleepover, a trip on school camp, it’s not simple anymore. Eating is a mathematical equation. Sleep is broken. “Have you checked your sugars” has become a constant interruption…and reminder. Elijah is one special kid, and his resilience is inspirational. Each day he gives T1D the big middle finger. Each day, I pray for a cure.
A reflection from Elijah’s mum, one year on from his diagnosis:
Today marks over 1,000 injections.
Over 3,000 blood sugar tests.
Countless midnight juice-boxes.
An endless supply of jellybeans at the ready.
Daily equations, insulin ratios, sensitivity factors, carb counting and exercise adjustments.
A constant conversation of highs and lows.
A nagging mum.
And, a kid that just wishes his pancreas was like everyone else’s.
Diabetes never takes a break – but Elijah isn’t letting it break him.

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