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September 29, 2003


Question from Brockton, Massachusetts, USA:

I am a teenager who has type 1 diabetes, and I don't feel comfortable asking my doctor this question. What's the worst thing that can happen to me?


Everyone has his/her own worst case so I can’t guess what your’s is, but the fact that you are concerned about this means that you need to share these feelings. So if there is a medical social worker as part of your diabetes care team, he/she would be a good person to discuss these anxieties with.

Let me also add that having diabetes nowadays, even though looking after yourself properly must sometimes be tiresome, increasingly offers a normal life expectation, and I am sure that in the next ten years or so some effective way will be found of giving substitute insulin producing cells without any need for permanent immunosuppression, a cure in fact.

Additional comments from Dr. Andrea Scaramuzza:

It depends about what topic are you asking this. The worst thing that can happen to you is not living well with Mr. Diabetes (as my patients and I call it) because this could determine the quality of your life. Non-compliance is often associated with an impairment of metabolic control, and this could be associated with the appearance of complications, and so on. However, as I said, I am convicted that a good relationship with your Mr. Diabetes can only let you live happier and for a longer time (as anyone, even someone without diabetes).

I will quote report you the words a friend, Prof. Johnny Ludvigsson from Sweden, sent to us (my patients and I) this summer before we started our summer camp, called ‘Insulin, love and care summer camp’ and that was held in Sardinia (I write from Italy).
Dear Camp Participants,

Long time ago Diabetes in a child or a teenager was a death sentence. Now we know that on an average you will have many decades of a good life in front of you, and hopefully some of you will be cured from diabetes some time in the future. But until then your life will not be “Normal”. Nobody has actually a “normal” life, but your life will definitely not be normal. It is not at all normal to take insulin several times per day, to eat at regular times, to eat certain amounts of food and with a suitable content, to measure blood glucose, etc. No, your life will not be normal, but it will be exciting, happy, long, fantastic..when you just learn how to live with diabetes.

Most periods of your life diabetes will not bother you too much, but sometimes it will be a burden. But do not give up! Never! Soon you will feel better again. My impression from diabetic children and teenager is that YOU ARE IMPRESSIVE! I like you and admire you! You are worthy prize, encouragement, support!

Have a wonderful camp! I wish I could have participated with you! But most important: Have a long, happy life!”