Parenting a teen is hard. There are teen hormones and their need to push boundaries. When your teen has type 1 diabetes, there is also the battle to get them to take their diabetes care seriously. Nonetheless, I have learned that there are some things to remember when parenting a teen with diabetes.
Our priorities are different
When my son wakes up in the morning, the first thing he does is check his iPhone. He eventually gets out of bed, does what needs doing in the washroom and then begins to scrounge through the cupboards in search of food. Once all of this is done and he is ready to eat, he pulls his glucometer out of his pocket and checks his blood sugar levels.
I constantly ask why he doesn’t check as soon as he wakes up? When I wake up in the morning, my first stop is his room to check his reading. After that, I do the rest of my morning routine but checking on him is first on the list before all else and it’s not my body. Why can’t he do that, I often wonder?
Today I thought about it a little bit more. For years I have questioned things like forgetting to bolus. He has had to have insulin with his food for as long as he can remember and long before that. How can he forget to bolus? How can he go for days and days without changing an infusion set? Doesn’t the adhesive begin to annoy him? And the list of questions goes on.
Would I remember to do every diabetes task if it was me?
But what if I was the person living with diabetes? Would I still be as diligent? I have a hard time sticking to a diet. I can do a new exercise routine for three weeks and when it is supposed to become habit, for me it becomes annoying and I usually come up with a thousand excuses and eventually stop. How would I then handle a routine that had to last me for the rest of my natural life?
I could count the carbs at every meal. That is a habit. I do that all the time now. In fact, recently a friend and I were out to dinner. I was ready to tell the other person how many carbs in their meal when I realized that it wasn’t necessary. We didn’t need to count the carbs. My son wasn’t there.
Would the pain of a site change make me put them off?
What about site changes or injections? The other day, my son said that he should get to do one on me in exchange for all of the infusion sets that I have put in him over the years. I declined.
Would I be like him and put off changing them for as long as possible? Most likely. I would need to use numbing cream ( he hasn’t used it in years). The noise of the insertion launching device would freak me out. I would probably also be looking for someone else to do it for me so I didn’t pull away.
Blood glucose checks? Would I check as often as I should? Possibly. I might be okay here because I would have to use alternate site testing. I have tested on my arm before. It was completely painless. That amazed me!
Lancing my fingers?? Well, that would take a lot more effort and my son makes it look like no big deal. Once again, what’s with the big bang of the lancet? That noise scares the beegeebees out of me! I wouldn’t be worried about drawing attention to myself in public because…well I just don’t really care about stuff like that most of the time.
More things that I need to remember when parenting a teen with diabetes
If I walked in my son’s shoes, would I be better at my care? Perhaps but I am a bit older than him. If I walked in my son’s shoes when I was 15, would I be better at my care than he is? I remember what I was doing at 15 and 16 years old. Diabetes would not have been a welcomed addition to my awkward new life.
I’ll have to try to remember that a little more. I am trying but when your child’s life depends on something like insulin injections and blood glucose testing, it can be hard to remain relaxed and easy-going. I will work on focusing on how ill-fitting his shoes are when I try them on. They are his shoes. I can lace them for him but he will one day have to walk in this journey of living with type 1 diabetes alone…and as a mother, that still remains scary.
If you need help organizing your life with diabetes, the Diabetes Advocacy Planner might be of help. It has numerous sections for everything from logging blood glucose levels, to sick day management and optimizing your next diabetes clinic appointment.