In June of 2011, I was stressing out. My son was finishing up the school year and preparing to head away for a few weeks with his father. His care was notoriously lacking when he went away. I was stressed to the max. His insulin needs were less and less. Despite my best efforts at reducing carb to insulin ratios and turning down basal rates, he was still going low. I wasn’t sure how I would handle it.
But guess what? We survived. He did and I did. He was 13. The burden of care fell 80% to himself. His father and brother helped out with site changes. His father did some of the night-testing. I worried. I learned to live without diabetes for a few weeks but we survived!
Here are a few things that helped deal with shared parenting a child with diabetes.
Two types of calls
We had two types of phone conversations. “How are you? Are you having fun?”, was the first call. This was the start of all conversations. Diabetes could not take a front seat unless there was an emergency. He had to be a child first.
At a set time, however, was the second type of call. This was a diabetes conversation. This involved having a meter out, sharing readings, what he was doing and why a high or low could have occurred. These were strategy sessions…and much shorter than a regular call. My son didn’t want to be bothered by mom’s nagging or diabetes but he also knew that it had to be done. My concession was to make it short. I gathered data quickly and offer suggestions.
Seven years later, parents can now get real-time data through sharing apps on the Dexcom and there are even a few hacked Libre sharing programs that can be used. This can definitely help to ease a parent’s mind but remember not to become obsessed by the numbers. This leads us to another thing that can be hard to remember.
Different doesn’t mean bad
I think that this can be the greatest challenge when joint parenting a child with diabetes. Whether you are divorced, separated or living in the same household, often there can be different opinions on diabetes care. A reading that you feel is high and needs immediate attention may a number that someone else is okay with because they know that there is a very active afternoon planned.
Try not to freak out every time the other person does it differently. Different means just that…not the same way you would handle it. The biggest rule is “Does different endanger the life of your child?” If not then bite your tongue, let your child enjoy their time with the other parent and say a quiet prayer of gratitude when your child comes home healthy and happy.
Adjust basal rates accordingly
When my son would spend time with his father, he would spend most of his time on the go. He would be catching up with old friends. He would be on quad or spending the day at the beach. There would be late nights and later mornings.
Before he would go away, I would make small tweaks to his basal rate to allow for an increase in daily activity and a decrease in morning activity. I allowed him to run a little higher than I would if he was with me because I also knew that he wouldn’t test or correct as often as he would if Mom was there to ask “did you check lately?”
Take some time for you
As much as you will stress and worry, this is your time off. Diabetes has left the building. Allow yourself to rest and regroup. Spend some time with yourself. Enjoy restful nights. Read a book. Go out with friends. Do anything that makes you truly happy because no matter how you feel about the child’s other parent…that parent loves your child as well. They will do their best to take care of your child and leave he/she with great summer memories so make some awesome memories of your own.
When you are reunited with your child, you will both be ready and recharged for all that diabetes throws at you!