Elizabeth Pyatak; Participation in Occupation and Diabetes Self-Management in Emerging Adulthood. Am J Occup Ther 2011;65(4):462–469. https://doi.org/10.5014/ajot.2011.001453
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© 2021 American Occupational Therapy Association
I present the findings of a study aimed at developing an in-depth understanding of how engagement in occupation influences young adults’ ability to effectively manage diabetes and, conversely, how their diabetes self-management strategies shape their occupational participation. The qualitative interview-based study of 8 people ages 19–25 with Type 1 diabetes revealed that study participants often experienced tension between diabetes self-management and participation in valued occupations, which required them to make calculated decisions about how to balance these competing priorities in their everyday lives. Seven themes are discussed in detail that characterized the relationship between participating in valued occupations and attending to the complex factors that dictate successful diabetes self-management. This research offers a preliminary framework for occupational therapists to assist young adults with diabetes and other chronic illnesses in reconciling these competing demands.
I’ll be hanging out with my friends, and they’re eating ice cream from Baskin Robbins, and I’m like, give me a double scoop! I want that! And then my friends say, you can’t! . . . I want to be like everyone else, I want to eat it without worrying about anything.
She said, “Did you check for ketones yet?” And I said no. She said, “Did you inject insulin?” And I said no. She said, “Well, you need to be doing that, why haven’t you done that?” And I understand what she’s saying, I should have done that, but . . . nothing like that has ever happened. So I just wasn’t prepared for it.
I was puking in the bushes, and this homeless man looked at me and gave me the dirtiest look, like, you drunken little girl. And I just laughed. I was like, now I’m getting dirty looks from homeless men, this is hilarious. . . . I got home and had some insulin, but it took me the rest of that day to recover.
I was playing basketball and all of a sudden I felt really low. . . . We went to the hospital, they drew blood and gave me the injection . . . . They said my blood sugar was at 5. . . . And the other extreme was 850, which is a near-death situation. So, I’ve lived both.
It was such a nice environment, because everyone actually knew . . . that I drink, and I don’t always eat what I should. There are just things that are realistic, that kids do, and so many doctors act like it doesn’t happen. And whenever you tell them that it does, they get mad, or make you feel bad about it, and say “Well in the long run, you’re going to die!”
I just want someone to say, “You’ve got to do this; you’ve got to take care of yourself.”. . . In a way I feel like somebody should tell me. They haven’t told me in so long that I should be told once. Just once. I would be happy.
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