The everyday life of a diabetic teenager

Fourteen-year-old, Aiden Nel, tells us how he lives his life as a diabetic teenager.

People think it is tough being a teenager with Type 1 diabetes. It can be difficult, and diabetes is a serious condition. I do feel down at times, but this is not very often. With the proper monitoring, correct eating, and being responsible, Type 1 diabetes does not need to have a negative impact on your life.

There may be a few negatives, such as always checking your sugar levels before a sports game or practice and before a test. However, you can easily still be a ‘normal’ teenager.

Monitoring and eating schedule

In the morning, as soon as I wake up I eat breakfast. About 15 minutes after eating breakfast, I test my blood sugar level and, if necessary, have my fast-acting insulin (Apidra).

I then go to school (I attend Grey High School in Port Elizabeth). School starts at 07:40 and first break is at 10:25. At first break I eat my lunch and then have Apidra. Second break is at 12:50, and I test my blood sugar level again. If needed, I will then have Apidra. I will also have a small snack.

School ends at 14:10 and sport starts at 15:00. Before practice starts, I will eat, test my blood sugar and have Apidra, if required. At sport, I hardly worry about my sugar levels because if you’ve been checking yourself regularly throughout the day, as I do, there is nothing to worry about.

Sport usually ends at 17:00. I then go home and once I get home, I test myself again and have something to eat. If needed, I will have Apidra.

As you can see, it’s important to have small snacks now and again and to keep checking your blood sugar levels.

At dinner time, which is around 18:30, I eat a balanced meal. I have my Apidra immediately after I eat, and then check my sugar level 15 minutes later.

The most important things to do as a diabetic are:

  • Always keep your blood sugar reading good by testing regularly;
  • Eat little snacks now and again;
  • At main meal times have a balanced meal.

Long-lasting insulin

When it comes to my long-lasting insulin (Lantus), it is important to have it at the same time every day. I have it at 20:00, but for younger children, it is perhaps better for them to have it at 18:00 or 19:00. Remember to have it at the same time each day!

Before bedtime, I check my blood sugar and have Apidra, if necessary. I normally have a small snack before bedtime. My parents sometimes still check on me during the night.

I have had blood sugar lows on a couple of occasions. When this happens, my parents keep sweets, such as Jelly Babies or Super Cs, and I have a few to bring my sugar level up. I then have a sandwich or a similar snack.


I was diagnosed as a Type 1 diabetic when I was four years old. For 10 years, I have been living with diabetes but because I control my diabetes, it does not negatively affect my life.

My life wouldn’t be my life without diabetes. It is a part of me that I cannot change. There is nothing I do, or want to do, that diabetes prevents me from doing. I play and have played many sports, such as cricket, rugby, hockey, squash and golf. Diabetes has not affected any of my sports.

For a diabetic, if you control your blood sugar, life does not need to change. Just continue to do what you want to do and carry on trying your best in whatever interests you.

I also have very good support from my family and friends, and this is very important to me and helps me tremendously.