Page last updated at 06:43 GMT, Sunday, 24 May 2009 07:43 UK

'I wrote the book I wanted to read'

By Jane Elliott
Health reporter, BBC News


Fibi Ward and her friends Emma, Samantha and Amber chat about how they felt after her diagnosis

When teenager Fibi Ward was suddenly diagnosed with diabetes last year she was devastated.

She knew virtually nothing about the condition and found that while there was plenty of literature about the medical aspects of living with Type 1 diabetes, that there was little information about the emotions.

Type 1 diabetes - also known as insulin-dependent diabetes - develops in those whose bodies are unable to produce insulin.

So 14-year-old Fibi decided to pen her own book, which she hopes others will find useful.

Informing others

"There was nothing available that looked at the emotional and psychological effect of being a diabetic - and certainly nothing aimed at children or teenagers," said Fibi from Wythnall, near Birmingham.

"I've basically written the book that I would have liked to have read when I was diagnosed.

"I hope that what I've written will help other children and teenagers who are diagnosed with diabetes. I hope it will help them understand that having diabetes might be a big deal, but it's not the end of the world."

I was fed up with - well everything. I hadn't chosen to be landed with it. I didn't want to have it. I was sick of it. I started to feel down every time I had to do an injection. It all seemed so unfair. Why me? Why did I have to do this?

As well as detailing her experiences Fibi's book 'No Added Sugar' also contains advice.

Diabetes care advisor, Zoe Harrison, from Diabetes UK, said it would certainly help fill a gap.

"I think a book like this will help.

"We do produce a lot of information, but hearing from other people going through what you are going through helps," she said.

"Some of the biggest problems are related to the fact that they are teenagers and having to deal with all the changes of adolescence as well as their diabetes.

"When someone is diagnosed with diabetes their whole life changes. They have to come to terms with having injections for life, having to manage their glucose levels and take better care of their health.

"It impacts on all aspects of life, school life, social and home life.

"There is an awful lot to come to terms with."

Reality hits

This was certainly the case for Fibi, who said she had been terrified by the implications of the condition.

"Because of my regime I have to do four injections a day. That sounded horrendous, but I have got used to it - it is part of a routine.

"When you are first diagnosed it can be hard to tell people, but after a while people will start to find out about it.


Type 1 diabetes - also known as insulin-dependent diabetes - develops in those whose bodies are unable to produce insulin

Classed as an autoimmune disease, type 1 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes in children, affecting up to 95 percent of under-16s who have the disease

Unlike type 2 diabetes - which is more common in adults - type 1 diabetes is not related to lifestyle factors

"I was worried about people finding out in case they thought differently of me or that I would stand out as different.

"I was scared, angry and upset, I used to think, why me? And I just couldn't see how I could ever have a normal life again.

"I was scared I would be bullied about it.

"At first I felt as if I was in a bad dream that I couldn't wake up from, and telling people about my diabetes would have just made it much more real.

"It is really horrible to begin with, but you do get past it."

School support needed

Fibi said her school has been extremely supportive, offering her the medical room to administer her injections under supervision.

But Zoe Harrison said others are not as lucky.

Insulin molecule:Pic caption:Pasieka/SPL
Insulin is used to treat diabetes

"In the UK there is an awful situation in schools in that they are not getting the best care and support at school," she said.

"They say they are being told they must inject in the toilets that they are not allowed to treat hypos - low blood glucose - or test their blood glucose in class.

"Parents having to go into school to give injections to younger children, some children are even being excluded from school trips."

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