top of page

Being a Sibling of a Type 1

Below is a blog by my fabulous sister, Iona. Iona is 3 years younger than me, and has been with me throughout a lot of my type 1 diabetes journey. When I was diagnosed we shared a room, and she got woken up by my mum’s night time tests as well, she heard the constant pump alarms, and she has had to help me when I unfortunately had severe hypos. This post was initially quite upsetting for me to read. It is hard to learn that your health has impacted on someone else so much. I wasn’t sure whether to post, however I didn’t want Iona’s experience to be silenced. Her experience with my diabetes is just as valid as mine. 

I see you Iona, and thank you for sharing your experience.

Until Next Time,

Alyssa x

A picture of Alyssa and iona posing together, smiling at the camera.
Alyssa (Left) with Iona (Right)

Hi! My name is Iona, and I am the younger sister of Alyssa (by 3 years). We are very close as siblings, and as I’ve been involved in Alyssa’s diabetes over the years, she asked me to write a blog about my perspective on her diabetes as a sibling of someone with type 1 diabetes. 

What is it like having a sibling with Type 1 diabetes, and how do you handle it?

Having a sister with type 1 diabetes is not like having a sibling without. We have a normal sibling relationship and interact normally almost every day, however it is impossible to ignore the fact that she is burdened by this condition. If I were the perfect sibling to her, I would not notice the extra attention and care she gets given by those around me. I understand completely why this is, given the circumstances in which the attention is given. When I was younger, I would get jealous that she would get given extra sweets and juice when I was not allowed them. 

How has your relationship with your sibling changed since they found out they have Type 1 diabetes?

When Alyssa first got diagnosed with diabetes, I felt ignored around the house. My mum was so worried about her, checking on her all the time, and at the time I remember feeling a bit left behind. I understand now that it was all new and scary for both my mum and Alyssa. I was only 11 at the time so I was confused as to what was happening. 

Over the years, I have had to help Alyssa when she has had severe hypos, including giving glucagon. These situations are extremely scary for me, and I feel that sometimes I am weary of going out alone with Alyssa because in the past she has had multiple seizures and bad hypos. I feel that if I am alone with her, I will not do something wrong when trying to help her and cause further damage. 

It isn’t all negative though. Having had these experiences with Alyssa has inspired me to study nursing at University, because I want to properly know how to help people like Alyssa in the future.

Do you have any tips for siblings who also have to help take care of a brother or sister with Type 1 diabetes?

I would say don’t be angry with them when they get the extra attention, because they are already going through a rough time with their own health without you causing unnecessary stress for them too.

How do you deal with feeling sad or worried about your sibling's diabetes?

I have yet to find the cure for being anxious around my sister and her diabetes because there have been many times where I have had every right to be worried. Especially out in public where it is harder to deal with. She has had seizures on the way home from school, in the house, on holiday, and out shopping. I don’t think I will ever be completely okay with going out with her on my own, I get overwhelmed at the idea of having to be alone dealing with her hypo seizures. But at the end of the day she is my sister and I love her, despite the fear.

Have you had any tough times because of your sibling's diabetes, and how did you get through them?

Because I have been responsible for dealing with Alyssa when having a seizure, I get a panicked feeling whenever her blood sugar is even slightly on the lower side. She is completely helpless when seizing, and often I am the only one around that has an idea of how to help her. Alyssa had a seizure on the way home from school years ago, I was forced to run home and grab her glucagon so that I could give it to her. It was one of the scariest moments of my life because it was the first time I had been alone with her while she was seizing. When I got back to her, I froze. I couldn’t understand the instructions on the glucagon and had to get a stranger to administer the medicine. I couldn’t help it; I froze in fear. I am better now that I am older and understand better what will help her. When we are in public and something happens to her, strangers rally together to help her, if this wasn’t the case that day, I don’t know what I would have done.

Can you share a special moment that shows how close you are to your sibling, even with their diabetes?

Alyssa has taken her experiences and turned them positive. Due to her work in diabetes advocacy, I have attended award ceremonies with her, including the Young Scot awards and Diabetes UK inspire awards. These experiences with Alyssa’s diabetes inspired me and me to go to university to study nursing, something I am currently studying.

Picture of Iona smiling at camera

103 views0 comments


bottom of page