Letting go as young adults take over their diabetes care


It will happen and it will be okay. That’s what I would tell myself if I could talk to the diabetes parent that I was 15 years ago about letting go as my young adult son took over his diabetes care.

I used to know everything about his diabetes care

You see, once upon a time, I could tell you what my son’s blood glucose level was at 3 am. I could tell you what his reading was before breakfast. I knew if he had run high or low during school. I would be able to give you his pre and post supper glucose readings. I knew it all.

I knew when his last site change was. I knew what his last A1c was. Years ago, I could tell you when his glucagon kit was going to expire and how many carbs he ate with his last meal.

I now know that he does look after his diabetes

transitioning to adult diabetes care

Today, I can tell you that my son does check his blood glucose levels. His last site change was just the other night. I know this because he asked for my help.  I know that he sees his diabetes doctor again in April. I know that he has some insulin in the fridge.

I have no idea what his last A1c was. His current basal rates are a mystery to me. It’s a real challenge for me to use his current insulin pump.

Years ago, I would never believe that I wouldn’t know these things. I swore that I would always check my son at night as long as he was in my house. I would be hands-on in my son’s diabetes care forever. I was certain and I was wrong.

It will happen to you as well

letting go as young adults take over their diabetes care

If you are like I was, you are having a stroke reading this. You are probably thinking…Not me! I will know everything regarding their diabetes care always! I thought so too.

For the bulk of his childhood,  I knew every carbohydrate that entered my son’s mouth. I wrote down every exercise that he did and how it impacted his readings. I micromanaged my son’s type one diabetes like nobody’s business! His care would take me over 40 hours per week.  It literally was a full-time job. Keeping my son alive and healthy was one of my top priorities.

The health of my children is still very important to me but this strange thing has happened–they have become adults.  As an adult, my son has asked that I don’t test him at night.  Sadly he wakes up a lot during the night now and tests himself.  He doesn’t see the sense in bothering me as well.

Because my son is an adult, he comes and goes when he pleases.  He treats his lows at work. He programs his pump while he is at school.  My son is completely in charge of his diabetes care.

It was terrifying at first I will admit. I had a need to know.  He had just as strong of a need for me not to know. He would be vague with his answers about bg readings if he answered at all.  It didn’t matter if I was mad or upset.  It was his condition to deal with and he would quietly show me that he could handle it….and when he couldn’t he would ask me for help.

I had to face that this is his disease

letting go as young adults take over their diabetes care

As I have watched him handle his diabetes care,  I have been amazed. We still occasionally share carb count guesses. I will look up the carb counts in certain food for him.  I will suggest a temporary basal when he is working long hours.  He will tell me what he has already done.

My role in diabetes care is now on the periphery.  It shocks me that I have managed it but I have.  One day you will step aside too.  It will be hard.  How far you step will be between you and your child but eventually, you will no longer know how to work their insulin pump either.  One day you won’t know their A1c but they will still call you when the going is rough–for you or for them.  For me, that remains a  huge comfort.

They will transition to diabetes care as an adult and we will live

letting go as young adults take over their diabetes care

I have gone from the most hands-on parent on the planet to an average mom.  Diabetes no longer is in my every thought. I now only think of it every few hours.  

The most amazing thing is that I am somewhat okay with it all.  Don’t get me wrong, the control freak lives on and would love to know more but my son is an adult.  As a young adult, he has taken ownership of his diabetes and Mom is only allowed glimpses when he deems it okay.

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7 thoughts on “Letting go as young adults take over their diabetes care”

  1. Your dedication to your child health with diabetes and the insulin pump is extraordinary watching over him.You done all you can doand a well job doing this , and now since he is a young adult i sure he will be fine he has positive understanding of this daily task on hand every day because you were there when he was younger i know moms worry all the time he will be ok! PS I I am a advocate for the Canadian Diabetes Association in Manitoba Canada i’, helping them to advocate with the Manitoba Government to lift the age restrictions for all individual affected by Diabetes for coverage of the insulin pump and supplies in this province the cost burden put on individuals who are 18 years old and older are very expensive i got the pump now for a year because i have stage 5 kidney disease working at 12% only so this insulin pump has proven to very affecting for keeping your BG in check mine for the last while is 6.5 A1C!!!

    1. Did you get the pump paid for the government or did you just pay for it yourself out of desperation? We by hook or by crook have been on an insulin pump since 2002. The Government of Ontario has been paying for insulin pumps since July, 2008 for adults and juveniles a couple of years prior to that. There is a facebook group advocating for full pump coverage for type 1 diabetics in B.C. I think supplies are funded there now. Keep the pressure up. There is a lot of money to be saved if a province funds type 1 diabetics 100% including cgms (continuous glucose monitoring system)’s sensors. The Ontario government’s Health Quality Ontario has called for people who use a cgms to report their experience to its investigators so that they recommend the cgms be funded by the Government. Other provinces are so far behind, it’s incredible. Good luck, type 1 diabetics and type 2 diabetics on insulin!

    1. Some people with type 1 diabetes are going to always need help. The physically and mentally disabled for example will always need help. Those with hypoglycemic unawareness will always need help. That’s the way it is.

    2. i had to pay out out my own pocket 7,000.00 for a insulin pump manitoba government only pay till your 18 years old shame on you manitoba Government

      1. “Shame on you Manitoba government!” is right! Also, how stupid of you, Manitoba government! The costs of not providing a pump far outstrip the cost of treating the expensive complicatons.

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