Teenagers: 10-15 years of age
Pushing your limits and making choices
As a teenager, your life is probably rapidly changing in many ways. You’re looking and feeling differently, becoming more independent, making new friends, pushing your curfew… As hard as it may be sometimes, you also need to think seriously about the choices you make for your health. Your parents won’t always be there the moment you need them – and as you continue to grow, so will your responsibilities.
At this age, it’s natural that you and your friends want to test your limits by trying new things. But as a teen with hemophilia, you will have to carefully consider your behaviour and the activities you participate in. Is what you are about to do too risky? It may be hard to not be carefree like your friends, and do all the things you want. But always think: is it worth it? Is this behaviour putting my health at risk? Your health is the most important thing: and good friends will be the ones who understand the compromises you may have to make to put your health first.
Taking charge of your health
The biggest step towards your independence is learning to manage your treatment. If you take clotting factor therapy and haven't learned how to infuse it on your own, now is a good time to start learning. Taking on this responsibility can help increase your confidence and independence. Here are some other important ways you can start taking charge of your hemophilia, and your health:
- If you're on prophylaxis, stick to your treatment routine
- Before playing a sport or doing something active that may cause a bleed, infuse clotting factor
- If you have a bleed, treat it immediately
- When you’re away from home – maybe on a school trip or a sleepover – take your supplies with you
- Program important numbers into your cell phone—including your clinic's number and nearest emergency room
Being prepared and using common sense are how you can demonstrate to your parents that you can enjoy more freedom and manage your hemophilia.
It’s natural to want to do what your friends are doing. A lot of them might join organized sports teams and you can too—just make sure to do a couple of things before signing up:
- Think about the risk of the potential injuries with the sport. Is there a lot of body contact? Is there a high potential for a fall or injury? Remember that you might need extra infusions and have to deal with pain if you get hurt. Could there be another sport that you’ll find fun that’s less risky?
- Then, speak to your parents and nurse or doctor to see if they recommend any changes to your treatment, such as starting prophylactic treatment or make a change in the regimen you are already on. It’s important to discuss the risks and benefits with your hemophilia team members, especially the physiotherapist. The best choices are made when you have the most information.
Talking to your parents
You’ve got so much racing through your mind: school, sports, peer pressure, hobbies, hormones, and the list goes on. Every teenager wants more independence and time away from their parents – but keep in mind that your parents have a hard time letting go. They love you and want to protect you, and it can be hard for them to adjust to your increased independence. So, if they’re overprotective now and then, cut them some slack!
You can help your parents get used to your growing independence by assuring them that you are thinking about your health and include them when making activity choices. Seeing that you are asking for more responsibility in managing your own care and making responsible choices will help them let go, while still being there whenever you need them.
Of course, talking to your parents isn't always that easy, so if you need someone to talk to or answer your questions (even the embarrassing ones!) don't forget that the HTC nurses are more than happy to offer you advice, tips, guidance, and the support you need as you grow more independent. You may also find support from others in the hemophilia community.