February 26, 2013

Eating, Cheating with Diabetes #NEDAwareness

I am part of the Diabetes Advocates. A friend there encouraged joining National Eating Disorders Awareness Week to share views on diabetes and eating disorders. I am happy to. You can find more links from other DA members hereThis post a rerun of a previously blogged post.  In it I share some thoughts on parenting contributing eating problems.  
National Eating Disorders Awareness Week is, February 24th – March 2nd, this year's theme is, Everybody Knows Somebody


I test drove a bunch of insulin pumps with saline in them at Friends For Life a few years back. Here is a clue how long ago, -  I had a Cosmo on the longest. I was very impressed with the menu structure and design that went into the user interface. (Tandem bought a brunch of their patents.) But I am not here to talk about oldie but goodie technology. 

I’m here to confess.

My name is Bennet and I am a cheater. 

I snuck food and didn’t bolus when I was on the pump.

Well more like I just flat out forgot - about half the time.
Maybe more.

As a parent of a child with Type 1 diabetes is so easy to get frustrated when the kids don’t bolus. The online forums are full of parental angst when kids don’t. We are SURE we would bolus every time if it was us.

I got news for y'all: The only thing easier than being frustrated when your kid doesn’t bolus, is forgetting to bolus.

I dare anyone to put on a saline pump, put yourself in a moderately intellectually stimulating environment and see if you remember to bolus all the time. Oh and have your favorite snacks all around when you wear it.

I flat out sucked at remembering. I would be walking out of a session all fired up about the topic talking with someone, grab a snack and keep talking. OK, ok, everyone who knows me, knows I keep talking all the time anyway, but there is a point here and that is... I forget...

... Doh! I’m wearing a pump.

What's more, if you’re not used to wearing a set everyday they’re not all that comfortable. It isn’t that they hurt. It is that they are just there, bugging you any chance they get.

The things are bastards that way.

The cord tries to pull the pump into the bowl every time you use the toilet. It thinks that is funny. I am telling you right now, you too can do in-stall diving gymnastics like a prepubescent Chinese kid looking for gold, when you know a 6 grand pump is heading for commode. If it isn’t diving for the bowl the pump is forever getting tangled up with the cell phone on your belt.

In short the pump made me well aware it was there, I just forgot to bolus.

Eating is as often a reflex more than a conscious act. There is food, it is comfort, you eat, you pay attention to what your mind is on and you forget the pump, despite its toilet diving gold metal efforts to remind you.

If you are like every other parent you and your fellow parents have designed our collective kids’ lives to keep them intellectually stimulated. We build building for that very reason. We call them school and pay taxes every month to support them. We want our kids to do well at this school thing. I mean we not only want straight ‘A’ but the class presidency, editor of the school news paper, lead in the play and league MVP would be nice too.

Kids have stuff on their minds. We go to great lengths to insure it.

  • They wear sets.
  • They know how to use a toilet and not do the stall Olympics.
  • They can wear a pump and a cell phone without entangling the phone in the pump line to the point of an occlusion alarm going off and text without looking at the buttons. (The starting degree of difficulty value there is HUGE!)
  • There are other kids in class who are 'cute.'
All that and they bolus way better than the 50% I did. More like 80% or 90%, maybe even 99% of the time.

I have a new found respect for that.

(That and I’m considering entering the 2016 Olympics in the pump/stall gymnastics event.... unless I have to wear a tight leotard, that is just unthinkable.)

I’ll tell you what is breaking the rules. Stigmatizing the very real and human slip of having a life and forgetting a bolus by using terms like sneaking, lying and cheating. Yes, it is easy to get frustrated but it is cheating to let that frustration morph into to humiliating and guilt tripping our kids. It is not about numbers it is about living with diabetes, long term, independent living.

It was no accident that the same coach at Friends for Life who said there needs to be consequences for behavior was also the same guy who said he never met a kid who was the problem. His experience is that it is always the parents who have the behavior problem.

It is not about numbers it is about how we lead.

What would you respond better to, being put down as a no good lying cheating skunk (sound like fighting words in an old western don’t it?) for the 20, 10 or 1% of the time you make a mistake or praised for the 80, 90 or 99% of the time you get it right? So how are kids any different? If you are not providing positive feedback 80, 90 or 99% of the time then being overbearing 20, 10 or 1% is cheating.

My name is Bennet. I am a diabetes eating cheater.

Knowing that is the key to not being one again.

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