Balance, Teens and Parents…Does it happen?

As I have written numerous times, our life with diabetes is far from new.  Diabetes barged into our lives over 13 years ago.  We didn’t invite it in but it has become very comfortable in its role of messing with our lives and shows no signs of going anywhere anytime soon.

In the early days, my son was a toddler.  That presented its own challenges but diabetes was mine to deal with 24/7.  I had to count all of the carbs, try to tell him when to eat, inject him and of course test his little fingers multiple times during the day.

By the age of four he reached his first diabetes milestone and was able to lance his own finger and apply the blood to a test strip.  The goal of course has been for him to take over his own care. Mom won’t always be there and frankly, there are many times when he really does not want Mom to be there!

Allowing him to have more freedom and gently (or not so gently) pushing him to care more for himself has many repercussions.  It’s good for him to be able to “do it” without Mom and foster a sense of independence.  It is the perfect time for him to make mistakes–when Mom is here to help him fix the errors and provide some guidance.  It can also make Mom slack and feel guilty.

Moving from dealing with diabetes 24/7 to having someone else carry the meter, bring the glucose, test and bolus can lead to times when I panic.  We have gone on quad rides and I will feel a panic attack begin as I realize that I do not have glucose on me.  Does my son? I forgot to check!  He appears well-trained and he always has some in his jacket so my heart can beat again. Despite that fact, I feel guilty and terrible. I can forget–he can’t.

After many years of fights about not testing enough, I find myself avoiding looking at his meter.  Someone once suggested that I never look at his meter but he still needs help making basal/bolus changes so downloading and analyzing trends is still very important for me to do with him. I once said that I would do this on a weekly basis but some times that week has turned into 10 days.  When I finally look he has missed at least one or two tests every day.  I want to get mad at him but I begin to think that it is more my fault.  I was not on top of things. I was not the adult. I was not the guide that I am supposed to be. I also remind myself that I can lead him to the meter but unless I lance him myself, I cannot make him test.  I often still remind him to test but have come to realize that if I don’t specifically ask what his reading is, he may simply nod, mumble and not bother to get a reading.  I feel like a bad mother and yet I also remind myself that he has to learn. It is his disease.  I may have given him the body by giving birth to him but it is now his to protect.

Its a difficult balance–trying to figure out how much to let go and how much to hold on.  This is not something minor.  This is a life-threatening disease with real implications.  An ignored failed site will very quickly (in our case) lead to DKA. Lows that are not retested and monitored can lead to seizures.  My job is to protect my children.  My job is also to allow them to grow and learn.  It’s a difficult balance and I know that I fail at times.  I simply pray that I get it right enough times that he will remain healthy and happy in the future.

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