Having your teen manage his diabetes care for an extended period of time can be stressful. When they return, you know that the care that they provided themselves will not be what you would have provided. Working together and learning from these experiences is hard but important.
My teen with diabetes had been at his father’s visiting for a few weeks. A few hours after he got home and unpacked, I asked to see his glucometer. I knew there was going to be a problem when the excuses began.
Teen excuse for poor diabetes care #1. I used a different glucometer
“Well you see, you won’t find all of my readings on that meter. I used another meter in my shed.”
I asked where the other glucometer was. Of course, he had left it behind at his father’s house which is over 900km (about 560miles) away. That was convenient!
My son said that he had done a lot of checking blood sugar levels on the meter he brought home in the last few days so it would give me some idea of what had been going on.
As I scrolled through the glucometer I found readings that were between 20-30mmol (360mgdl+). I tried to breathe. I would not get angry. We would have a productive conversation. I asked him what had been going on.
TEEN EXCUSE FOR POOR DIABETES CARE #2. I didn’t want to go low at night
“Well, I was high this morning because I didn’t want to go low last night and interrupt the little bit of sleep I was going to get. You see how I was low at 11pm? I had a juice and a granola bar to cover it.”
“A little bit of overkill don’t you think? You were just low (3.7/65), a juice would have done it. If you weren’t going up that quickly after 15 minutes then you could have added more without sending your readings through the stratosphere.”
I continued to scroll through the meter and note the results. I continued to work hard on just breathing and not getting too angry. All of the readings were high and higher! What was going on?
TEEN EXCUSE FOR POOR DIABETES CARE #3. My pump site was bad
“Dropped? When? Where? How long was this site in? You were running over 20 (360mgdl) for days!”
He replied that his site was a little old. He had probably gone over by a day or so. Perhaps his site was as much as seven days old, I asked? My teenaged son just shrugged his shoulders. I wanted to scream. Instead, I asked him about the cut on his hand.
“When did you do that?”
“What do you think it will look like in seven days?”
“I hope it will pretty well be gone.”
“So when you lance a small hole in your body for your cannula, how much healing do you think has gone on around it in seven days? When the tissue around it heals, it can’t absorb insulin anymore.”
He replied that he thought he could go 5-7 days before a site change. I know that some people will. It is not a good practice. He has insurance coverage. There is no reason not to change his infusion sets as prescribed. I replied that ideally sites are changed every 2-3 days.
I learned a lot about my diabetes care while I was away
“Oh, well you see all of these highs have meant that I learned a lot about my diabetes care this trip. I should probably do this more often. I never realized this stuff before. Now I know it. Wasn’t this a good thing?”
I had to laugh because otherwise, I would have strangled him. None of this information was new. My son had been living with diabetes for most of his life. This was all the stuff he knew before.
I reminded him that continuing to run that high would result in serious complications. He told me that he had been told that was hogwash. I replied that maybe one or two highs would not kill him but long term high blood sugars could result in diabetes complications.
Once again he shrugged that teenage shrug and went back to enjoy being home. I just sat and shook my head.
Maybe he would learn because of this. Maybe one day everything I tell my teen with diabetes about his diabetes care will have some meaning. In the meantime, I will continue to pray, to hate summer vacations and extended periods of insane blood glucose levels.
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