March 15, 2008

Newbie Advice: The Long Run

Welcome to Type 1. I wish you weren’t here too.

For that matter I wish I wasn’t here. Twice.

Your child has diabetes. That sucks. Lets talk about you. Your life has changed. You’re feeling confused, tired overwhelmed and more. That’s about normal. You are trying not to let your child see all of that just like they are trying to let you see that same feeling in them.

You are going to be OK and if you can be OK so can your kid. You will be OK because you want your child to be OK and for them to be OK you have to be. - Try singing that to the tune of the Lion King’s Circle of Life. It doesn’t fit but you’ll get the idea anyway.

Diabetes care is doable. You can and will do fine. In a few months will be writing to reassure other newbies. Again the circle of life thing.

Right now you are overwhelmed by all the day to day, meal to meal stuff and unless you are a total freak, freaked out about all the holes you’re putting into your child. So let’s talk about long term because your not thinking about it now.

In the long term you want the kid out of the house after college. Am I right? Hasn’t that been the plan all along? Diabetes doesn’t change that plan.

You are now adding to the plan that the kid is self sufficient in their diabetes care when they move out. That is fair but it takes some long term strategic planning now.

As much as is possible without actually forcing the issue you need to encourage independent care of the diabetes; self testing, self administering insulin, self correcting etc. You need to help teach them that stuff.

WAIT A SECOND you say. I DON”T KNOW HOW TO DO IT, TO TEACH IT. Fair enough. As you learn teach them.

Don’t let diabetes care fall only on mom’s shoulders dad needs to step up and you both need to challenge, reward and celebrate steps to self sufficiency. If you can move a lot of the diabetes care to the young teen before they start rebelling then they may not rebel against diabetes as a surrogate for you.

Blood Sugar readings are not good or bad.
  • Your child isn’t good or bad because of a number on a meter.
  • A calm response is always good, maybe ‘why do you think you got that number’ is the best response to any number.
    You’re 98, why do you think you’re 98?
    You’re 52, lets get a juice, why do you think your 52?
    Your 487, why do you think your 487?
  • You don’t need to look over their shoulder when they test. It makes teens feel untrusted. If you need to see the reading,  you can always read the meter memory later.
I try to listen to a lot of other T1 teens with so I have a chance at  knowing how to deal with mine. TRUST is the issue I hear most and blood test are a huge part of that trust. Work on giving trust to them - they may slip up, Your Diabetes May Vary.

I know this may not feel like the right time to think about the long term.  Thinking a little about the long term may influence how you do things day to day. A little over time ads up to a lot.

Sure you feel overwhelmed, we all felt the same way, I am sure you will find that in time you can cope. A key part of that is sharing experiences with other who get it, Other T1 parents. Join an online community.Join a local group. Don't let diabetes make you feel alone.

You going to be fine. You being fine is how your kids are going to be fine.

More YDMV Newbie Tips: 


  1. If you're going to ask about blood sugar readings and the kid's a teenager, be really careful about how you ask. From my parents, I'd probably hear that as a judgment part of the time, especially if it's a high or low that they ask about, and especially because they don't do my diabetes care.

  2. Yeah I think your right there Johan, I should be more clear, as a parent I need to react non judgmentally and as much the same as I can regardless of the BG reading.

    I know I fall short when numbers are good. Hell those are the ones I should be asking about because if there is a method in the madness of diabetes the good number method is the one to talk about.

    Thanks for the thoughts.