A Rose Colored Life

I am slowly adjusting to not having any young men living in my house anymore. As I have said many times, it is a challenge for me on so many levels. I have found test strips in a few places and I can’t take it upon myself to pick them up.  They are physical reminders of my child. I actually smile when I see them.

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This one greets me in my laundry room each day.

Yesterday I realized how much we can romanticize situations when someone is away.  I am almost looking forward to getting up and testing my son through the night over Christmas. Gone is the dread and frustration that I carried for years.  Now, I will be doing him a favor–and more importantly I will have data to look at!!

Life can almost be rosy when they are away and you are simply talking on the phone or texting.  You can forget the challenges of trying to get a teen involved in his diabetes care.  You can gloss over the attitude that they can carry with them, the eye rolls and the shrugging of shoulders.  You don’t have to consider the fights over homework and grades.  There is a certain bliss about the situation…and then there are the challenges….

I am not there to force him to do homework and improve his grades. I cannot physically see the assignments that he should be paying more attention to but I do see the results in his report cards. I am not there to ensure that he is in the house at what I feel is a decent hour. I am not able to make sure that foods are bolused and testing is done.  This can lead to a sense of frustration and powerlessness. It can be torture….or I can go back to life with the rose-colored glasses fondly looking at dead test strips and remembering only the fondest of memories.

It is funny how the mind works.  I am at the point where I do both–I think of my son’s laughter and sense of humor. I wish that I could still do more about his diabetes care. I want to strangle him and kick his butt over his plummeting grades. I want to hook him up to a CGM and be done with it no matter what he says.

Such is the challenges of a child who is no longer small.  This is the way it is when he no longer lives in the same house, the same city, or the same part of the province.  This is how it is when he is struggling to be his own man.  It can be painful. It can be a learning experience for both of us. It is most certainly the greatest challenge of a parent.

Watching The Stumbles from a Distance

My son has been living with his father now for two full months. I still walk into his room and hope to find him there. I still find used test strips in strange locations. I still wake at night thinking that I should get up and test him but it is getting easier. I am slowly learning to adapt.

I keep in touch with both of my boys on a daily basis. I still worry about both of them.  I worry about the troubles that can find young men. I worry about many things that a parent will concern themselves with but I don’t obsess over any of it. I focus on how strong and independent they are. I pray that they always remember that I always want the very best for them.

My youngest son has been great about uploading his pump and touching base with me once a week to discuss his readings.  I have worked very hard never to freak out at the lack of testing. I don’t scream at him when I see high readings.  I normally just ask for more data. We discuss how different meters are functioning and talk about how to handle bad sites.

Stepping back and letting him make the decisions is very difficult.  It’s not because I am a control freak (although that has had its challenges), it’s because I am a Mom.  I want to protect my children from all ills. I failed him once by allowing him to get this disease. It has therefore been my job to protect him from the ravages of it.  That’s how a parent thinks.

Yesterday my son and I talked about his readings.  Once again I did not scream. I did not cry–but boy did I want to! I looked at the very few readings (maybe two per day) and saw none of them in range.  All readings were incredibly high (a low reading was 14 mmol or 252 mgdl).  My mind’s eye saw nothing but kidneys breaking down and eyes being damaged.  I quickly reined in my imagination and remembered the concept of metabolic memory.  I had prepared for this day.  I had kept him in excellent control his entire life.  The theory was that it would protect him through this time as he stumbled and found his own stride.

Instead of showing my obvious distress, I reminded my son that he felt bad when he was high. I asked him a few questions about his readings–“how long before you tested did you eat? So you were probably high for at least four hours previous.”  I then set to work. I was nervous about making sweeping changes with so little data but I had to do something! I upped his rates almost across the board.  I suggested that he might want to try to test a bit more so we could get a better idea of where we stand and help him to feel more like himself. I left it there.

This would have to be his decision. He had to decide to look after himself and make testing a priority again.  We had met for dinner a month ago when I was near the town that he now lives in.  I watched as he began to eat without testing. When I questioned him, he quickly took out the pump remote, tested and stated that he had forgotten because he was just so hungry.  Perhaps that was the case but the data I have been seeing suggests that he just often doesn’t bother to take the time to test most of the time.  He remembers to bolus however so I will be grateful for the things he does do.

I praised him for giving me the truth about high numbers. He was not using the pump remote for most readings so he could easily have lied about the 20 and 30s (360-540+) that I was seeing on his upload.  I said that it was great that he was showing me these.  We would work together to bring the readings more in range.

I have no illusions that things will change after this latest talk.  We had a similar one a few weeks ago.  That reality is what sets me on the edge of tears.  He will see his diabetes team next week. I pray that they will help him see sense but again, I doubt it. He is 16.  He knows best. He will have to learn on his own.  One day he will hopefully realize that I was trying to keep him healthy.

I have spent the past 13.5 years teaching him how to take care of himself. He has the tools.  Watching him not use them is heart-wrenching.  Many adults with diabetes and parents with older children tell me that this will pass. One day he will remember all that he was taught and will get himself back on track.  I do believe that–I have to.  The hard part is waiting for that to happen and in the meantime standing on the side lines watching, guiding, and praying that the scrapes are no more than that.

My son is a good kid–both of my children are.  They have never brought any trouble to my door. They have never been involved in any serious and dangerous behaviors that I know of.  They have always been quite respectful of me and as I said, all around great children.  Diabetes just adds that extra layer. It’s like that best friend that you really don’t want your kids to hang around with but they think he is the best thing going.  You know the dangers that he can cause for your child and they think that they have him under control.  Daily you pray that they are right…but it is terribly difficult.

I will continue to monitor my son’s longtime friend called diabetes. I will work to prevent as many scrapes as I can. I will be on the sidelines encouraging him to find his own stride and remembering that no matter what I have done in the past, this is his disease to learn to manage.

Liam Oct 1998

Psychic Connection?

The other night was night two of tossing and turning which in itself is not entirely unusual. This night was different though.  I was completely tired and ready to drop.

I had read a few pages of my book, done some relaxation exercises but sleep would not come.  After awhile anxiety began to creep in. I tossed and turned some more.  My mind began to take off on its own. There was no way to reel it back in.

I thought of my oldest son living up in Alberta.  Had he been injured at work? I would have heard if he had. I tried to shut my mind down again. I tossed and turned some more.  I thought of my youngest son. Was he testing at night? Was he in trouble? Had something happened? I again worked to calm myself down. Both boys, or someone around them, would have contacted me if there was a problem.  I was being foolish.  I was overtired. I had too much on the go. I had too much time on my hands.  There were a million reasons for me to be tossing and turning. Driving myself insane was in no way helping the situation. By 2am I finally fell asleep.

When I got up the next morning, I wondered if this had just been a reaction to so many years of interrupted sleep.  Was my body going through some sort of withdrawal? It has not slept through the night for any extended period in 20 years.  There was bound to be some issues at some point. I decided that I would try herbal tea with my book the next night.  All would be fine. My kids were still alive. No friends or family had been injured during the night. Obviously my anxiety was unwarranted. It was probably just my body being strange….and then I talked to my youngest son.

After a bit of chatter, I asked him how his readings were.  “Good except for last night. I was up all night because of a bad site.  I got it fixed though and was perfect during the day.” BINGO! There was the source of my anxiety!  He was in trouble the night before.  Well not trouble, but you know what I mean.

I have spent almost 14 years somehow waking to most diabetes related events. I would wake at unexplained times when he was low or high.  Something would bring me out of a deep sleep and make me test him.  We have no CGM.  I just somehow often “knew“.  Perhaps this knowing did not know distance?  I am not sure. Some people would say that I was crazy and this was just a coincidence.  It could be. I am not sure but I do know that I slept a little easier the next night.  Any tossing and turning  I experienced that night didn’t have a higher level of anxiety attached.  As long as my son is also waking and dealing with things…well I will probably always worry and be concerned but hopefully I will find a level of calm. If I don’t, I will text! psychic 

New Challenges

Someone asked me to continue to update my experience has a mother of a teen with diabetes who is living elsewhere.  Let me say its a bigger challenge than having him live here!

There are definitely growing pains.  As a mom, I miss having my sons around me. I actually do wake up during the night and feel lost because there is no one to test or check on. I would gladly teleport myself to some of you sleep deprived parents but unfortunately the only things that I really can do is roll over and hope he is okay where he is.

My son on the other hand seems to be loving not having Mom hover over him and what teen wouldn’t? The rules are very different for him now and he is enjoying it to the extreme I am sure.  A friend reminded me recently that even when children are away from their parents and thinking about doing a certain behavior, often Mom or Dad’s voice is still nagging in the back of their head and they may be a bit more cautious because “what if Mom/Dad found out? They would kill me!” I hope this is the case with my boys…well you know that they continue to have some common sense because its not like I would really “kill” them exactly…

Obviously with a mom who likes to be hands on and get things done and a 16 year old who is loving being away from that, there are challenges. Oh are there challenges!!  Bringing my expectations down to a reasonable level is very, very difficult and in part only done with the help of great friends.

While we do text daily I make sure that diabetes is not often the topic of conversation. We talk like, school and diabetes if he has an issue that needs to be dealt with right away. We have however agreed to sit down and chat about diabetes specifically once per week. We chose Wednesday nights.

The first week this worked perfectly.  He uploaded his pump. I looked at the data, formed my questions and was able to be calm by the time we talked. All worked out really well. The next week I had to be away on the Wednesday so we chatted Tuesday. There were a few more issues. We spoke of what to do when type situations arose. It went okay.  This week, well its been three weeks. The shine was going to wear off of things right?

Yesterday I sent him a message reminding him of our “date”.  I told him to upload his pump when he got home from school so that I wouldn’t keep him up late. Last time he had had computer issues and it took forever to even look at the data. When he got home he sent me a message telling me that the remote for his pump still didn’t work. What??? Had he called the support people? Of course not.  He was waiting for Mom to do this. Mom agreed.

I told him to call me after his supper and we would call pump support. I would keep him on one phone and call the support people on the other so that I could ask him whatever they asked me.  I ate my supper and waited…and I waited…and I waited. It turned out that heading out with a friend for the night was way more important than Mom or a pump issue.  At 11:30pm I told him to take pictures of the back of the pump and the remote, send me details and I would deal with it in the morning. We would also talk pump the next afternoon BEFORE he got busy with other things.

After a bit of troubleshooting on my part, I got his remote working again.  There is definitely an issue so I am waiting for pump support to return my call.

Balancing 16 year old freedom, Mom control and Mom letting go is definitely difficult.  This may be one of the biggest challenges I have faced in a very, very long time.  Its a good thing I have a great relationship with my hairdresser. I may need a lot of hair color to get me through!

A reminder to myself. I may need to post it on a wall somewhere.
A reminder to myself. I may need to post it on a wall somewhere.