If you are a teen who finds it embarrassing taking your enzymes at school, keep reading, we have a few tips on how to be discreet while you take them….
The peer pressure to conform to what other teens are wearing and doing can be a minefield, so doing something different like taking medication at school, can make things even more tricky.
Being different and being treated differently
The thing is when you have something like cystic fibrosis (CF) it does make you different. There’s no getting around that. The choice you have is whether to see this as a bad thing, a good thing or just one thing about you, when there is so much more. You have some power over how people treat you. If someone is not treating you well, you can ask them not to. If someone is treating you well you can reinforce that by thanking them or encouraging that response. It might take a bit of time but eventually people will realise that taking medication is just what you do and it’s not a big deal.
If there are students making a big deal about you taking your medication it’s worth speaking to a supportive teacher or the school nurse about it and also with your parents. Getting someone else in to the school to provide education to the teachers and students about what CF is and how it can affect a person who has it, can be useful. Teachers and students who understand more about CF are better equipped to provide you with more support and understanding and peers can learn about a condition that they could potentially be a carrier for themselves. Cystic Fibrosis WA (CFWA) can provide education sessions about CF for teachers and students in high school.
How do I explain what the enzymes are for?
Take a few minutes to think up a quick explanation for your enzymes so that if someone asks, you can easily think of what to say. This can be your ‘go to’ phrase for all occasions if someone asks. Your explanation can be very simple such as: “I need these tablets so I can digest my food”.
There will also be other students in your school who will be taking medication for different reasons and they could be embarrassed about it too, so sometimes it is good to remember you are not alone.
Tips for disguising taking your enzymes:
- Store enzymes in a mint or lolly container. (Make sure the date of the enzymes that you put into the container is checked – if they are out of date they won’t work as well- write the date in a black marker on the bottom of the container).
- Take the enzymes while heading to the drink fountain. Walk away from the group of friends you are with, have your enzymes in your pocket and quickly put them in your mouth before taking a drink.
- Ask a teacher if there is somewhere private where you can take your enzymes on a regular basis.
- Test the waters by taking your enzymes in front of someone you know well and trust, first. Their positive reaction might help build your confidence.
- Distract your audience. Ask another person a question so the group is looking at them or start a new topic of conversation so people become involved in that. Or, you could have your enzymes when everyone’s attention is naturally focused elsewhere.
- If you are very worried, maybe you can take your tablets just before you eat, in the bathroom, at your locker or ask your teachers if you can take them in the classroom once the students have gone.
- If you forget to take your enzymes at the start of the meal, take them during your meal, or you can still take them at the end, as long as it’s within 5 -10 minutes of eating. Better late than never!
Someone you trust like your parents, close friends, school nurse, teachers or your CF dietician might be able to suggest other ways to help you feel more comfortable taking your medication.
Other useful resources
- CFWA: Young People
- Look up “How to be a teenager with a chronic illness” by Charles Michael Duke, on Youtube, he has some interesting advice explained in a very humourous way.
- CFSmart: CF explained for teachers:
- CFFood: A Guide for Young People
Article from RED Magazine, Edition 3, 2016.