Diabetes Youth Care

DYC Ladies

Diabetes Youth Care

Letter to my 13year old self

Dearest me,

I have been fighting with myself about writing to you, I thought that you are doing just great so you don’t need much guidance, but looking at other young ones at your age who are also living with diabetes, I realise that there is much we don’t know.  So the blog is dedicated to you, for you to ask all those inquisitive questions that sometimes mum and aunty either turned darker shades of brown when we asked, or pretended not to hear our questions.

I am going to start with something which I know that you may not be worried about currently but this is going to equip you so that in about a year or two when these questions start to bug you, you’ll be with all the answers and ready to help other young ones who are also either living with diabetes or not.

In our African culture one thing that our mothers worry about is our “femininity” and more especially whether diabetes would not affect our lives as women.

So let’s talk about menstruation (period, ante, strawberry juice, hasacas & kotoko, time of the month, ladies thing, red cross members, osmosis, fallow, adole, aunty polly, azaa, red flow/devils,

the names are plenty and I’m sure you are going to come up with one.) Mummy has been looking at me funny and asking strange questions about some blood which should be “happening” every month. The first time she mentioned that, I was so scared so I went to read and I didn’t understand, but now I do so let me try and explain.

Menstruation is when as a female, every month blood comes out of your body through your vagina. Yes ooo it’s true what the other girls were whispering about at school last week. Don’t worry that wouldn’t kill you at all, but that is one of the things which means we have moved from being a girl to a woman. Let us learn about “down there”, the place that mummy says don’t let anybody see especially the boys. The organs down there are the following:

  1. Ovary, now we have 2 of them, one on the right the other one on the left side. This is where eggs are made for making babies. Yes babies, so that means once you start having your period, you can make babies.  Every month your ovary will release an egg which will go through a tube called the fallopian tube.
  2. Oviduct or Fallopian tube which will transport the egg into a place called the uterus
  3. Uterus is where babies develop. The egg goes there and rests for a while and when no sperm (that will be another letter to explain this so don’t be worried) from the man meets the egg then the lining of the uterus (endometrium) will break down.  The breakdown will result in the bleeding which goes to the cervix
  4. Cervix is where the blood passes and comes out of the body through the vagina
  5. Vagina is the opening of the uterus to the outside of the body and babies come through this place.

As I mentioned, babies and sex are going to be discussed in detail in subsequent letters, so don’t be worried or confused at all.

Every month we go through this cycle where an egg is made and moves from the ovary through the fallopian tube to the uterus and when there is no sperm, the lining of the uterus breaks down an comes out of the vagina though the uterus as blood which is menstruation.

So this cycle can happen every 28 days averagely, but the range of the cycle for every female is between 21 to 32 days. So sometimes your period will come every 23 days or every 31 days or every 27 days.  The bleeding also would last for between 3-10 days but average is 6 days. See as we are growing older the days and weeks may change so I want you to keep a diary so you can keep track of these days so that you do not soil yourself.

During this time that you are having your period, mummy will give you a pad so that the blood will be collected and you will not stain your dress. Always make sure that you have extra pads on you so you can change them frequently.

Sometimes during your period you will experience some funny pains in your lower abdomen, sometimes if it is very painful take some painkillers it will make the pain better.

Now I know you haven’t had your menses now, don’t worry some of your class-mates or your friends at Diabetes Youth Care (DYC) also haven’t had their menses right? If you are healthy, which I know that you are even though you have diabetes, your menses may start around the same age that big sister’s own started. I read that if I have a healthy weight, my menses would start around the same age that other females in the family also started their menses. Our big sister Yaa started her menses at age 15 (she doesn’t have diabetes and Afi in DYC also is 14 and is having her menses).  The doctor says that if at the age of 18 my menses don’t start I should come for a letter for the gynaecologist (a doctor who specialises in the female reproductive system) to find out what the problem is.

Will my menses affect my blood sugar levels? Unfortunately yes, during your menses the blood sugar levels can go very high or very low.  This is because there are hormones (substance produced in your body to produce an effect on various organs) which are released during this time makes our blood sugars go up. So please during this time make sure that you monitor your blood sugar more frequently and know the right foods to eat.

Remember that moods will also change and this is normal with or without diabetes just note that, don’t stress yourself.

I hope that I have enlightened you today about menstruation let me know if you have any further questions feel free to ask, no boundaries is our motto!

Loads of Love