A Grumbly Teen Day

I think I have seen the first signs of “I hate diabetes” from my son in a very long time. When he was first diagnosed, the new life of testing, injecting and specific eating was foreign to him and he rebelled by throwing up and refusing to eat.  It was his way of gaining control at two years old.
My son is much older now. He has lived with this disease for most of his life.  He has been great all things considered. He has done what he must for the most part. He has tried to ignore it as often as possible but he knows that he has his mother to rely on for help.  He tries to be just a normal kid who does not like to draw attention to himself or diabetes.
Recently his report card came home with less than stellar remarks. The marks were varied but most were not up to his standard.  The comments were not at all what I expected of my son.  I was terribly disappointed. He knew he had to do better. He had messed up. The discussion was very emotional for both of us. 
I reminded him that a full-time career in a dead-end job was not just beneath his potential but harmful to his health. He needed to focus on getting a good job that will allow him look after his health care needs.  Diabetes would partially dictate his career choices. For the first time, I think that sadly hit home. He was not happy.

Teen attitude…this picture really captures it!

Our latest diabetes clinic appointment occurred the day after the report card mayhem.  At the clinic he was very surly and not at all like himself.  We hate the long wait times and he was miserable.  While he was polite when they asked him questions, when we were alone he was seething. Any class in school was better than sitting and waiting. Going back to injections was preferable to seeing his team every quarter. How long did he have to do this for? A lifetime? That was insane.  He was having no part of this.
My heart broke. How do I help? How do I fix the attitude? Will it pass? Is this just a phase? What will happen later in life when he is fed up like this? Will he quit and negate his health? I have to believe not. I have to believe that he will fuss and complain but the results of non-compliance on his body will put him back on the straight and narrow.

I never liked adolescence when I went through it. I dreaded it when my oldest son began his journey and it has not improved for my youngest son. I know we will survive, but oh the bumps and bruises we may have along the way!

Half a step forward and too many backwards

I am beginning to think that diabetes education with a teen is a half a step forward, seven steps backwards.  The only thing that is changing is my reaction. I explode inside and am (so far) still being pretty matter of fact and eerily calm on the outside. 

After going to school with no insulin and a week old site last week, my child told me that his pump battery needed to be changed.  I asked if he had a new one and he said yes.  I said to change it right away.  NINE hours later he changed the battery.  He told me that he wanted to see how long it would last after the first warning–A lot longer than my nerves!

This weekend was a long weekend.  Like many others, we headed out for a weekend in the country.  This time he brought TWO meters. He had spare strips. He had spare batteries. He brought extra insulin and had numerous infusion sets AND cartridges.  He was happening! Well he at least had the supplies but did he use them was another matter entirely.

The weekend was filled with friends and family.  We enjoyed barbecuing, conversation and watching the kids of all ages playing in the huge lawn area.  My son wrestled, was chased by the younger kids and ate.  He ate marshmallows.  He ate hot dogs.  He ate steak and salads.  Food was plentiful and Mom provided a running carb tally along with the ever present–“Did you test?”  to which I was always told “yes”.

On our last day, I decided to see how Diabetes was behaving. My son had been really active.  Besides playing, there were long walks, chopping trees, hauling gravel for the driveway, gathering rocks and building a new fire pit. It was a very active weekend. I had expected to see a few lows but also knew that I had compensated by giving lower boluses for many meals.

As I scrolled through the meter I felt my blood pressure rise.  There was a reading here and a reading there, with many missing readings in between.  He had been active.  He had been eating but he hadn’t been testing! Well he had tested–at one point during the day just not during most of the ten other times that I asked him!

A cool rage was building inside.  What was it going to take to get this kid to get it?? When people were around, he just does not want to be different. It does not matter that they were very aware of his diabetes.  It does not matter that Larry’s grandson had a test strip in his hair when he got up in the morning.  Diabetes is a part of our lives but he was going to keep it hidden as much as he could.  A site change was done in a separate room and testing could only be done, it would seem, when no one was around to see it happen.

I appreciate his desire to forget Diabetes.  I would love to forget it as well. I understand that it must be tiresome to carry around that burden every day.  He is great about bringing a kit with him. He takes glucose with him everywhere he goes.  I just wish he would be a lot more comfortable with using it!

I didn’t scream or yell at him after seeing the lapses on the meter. I didn’t punish or take anything away.  I decided to change gears this time around.  This time around I am asking for proof of every test.  Before supper, I ask to see the meter after he has tested.  Before bed, I ask to see the meter.  I will end up slacking on this. He will comply, I will become complacent but perhaps one day it will sink in and we can both be happy.

In the meantime, its a baby step forward and wait for the seven steps sliding back…or maybe, just maybe?

Do my eyes deceive me?

Armed with a load of clothes, I head into the dreaded “boy cave” also known as my son’s room.  As I enter, I can hear that the XBox is already up and running and conversations have begun–he has been home for at least 15 minutes so I should not be surprised, right? Imagine my surprise, however  when I see a black tv screen and….my son with a pen in hand working on his log book!

After that brief minute when my heart skipped a beat or two I noticed that the screen was black because it was “loading game” but the log sheet was really out! He was actually going to fill it out…like with real information! What was going on?

A quick look back on the last twenty-four hours brought immediate understanding. This was not a spontaneous move towards maturity and taking care of his diabetes.  This was the result of Mom telling him sternly (I really didn’t even yell or completely lose it!) that all log sheets are to be completed on a timely basis with ALL required information provided OR the beloved XBox would be disabled until said son could do as he was asked.

Again, this was not met with exuberance and “Of course, Mom.  I apologize for being so slack lately.” It was met with teen sized attitude.  In our house the attitude is met with relative silence of mouth but exagerated actions. This time, the exagerated actions caused him more problems than he had anticipated. 

In his grumpy mode, he ignored the fact that he was told to either leave the garbage on the front deck or in the garage. Using his teenage wisdom, he felt that the garbage was to go out at that moment–in extremely high winds and a snow storm, rather than the next morning before school.  The result? The door being blown off his hinges and a quiet hush coming over the house as Larry and I both pictured having to buy a new door in the morning.  We were not pleased but remained eerily calm. He knew he was in trouble.  Accidents happen but if he had ditched the attitude and listened…well we would still have a door attached to its frame!
Thankfully, in sunny conditions, the door was able to be repaired.  I sent my son a text to let him know that I would not have to take the price of a new door out of his hide.  The result…Mr. Perfect Diabetes Son who logs when he gets home. Big price to pay for compliance.  Hopefully we can maintain this without any repeat episodes of the door removal incident.

One step forward and…Ouch We Fell

Didn’t I just finish saying that I knew it wouldn’t last? Didn’t I say that I knew that my son had not miraculously changed? Well, I guess I do have to grateful for small victories and move forward from there.

Yes, he is still bolusing for virtually everything that enters his mouth (and that is a lot!).  Yes, he still makes sure that I am up if he is low before going to bed.  And yes, he tests around lunch time and before he leaves school in the afternoon.  This means that we still have a couple of areas to work on…

He still “forgets” to test after breakfast.  He still “forgets” to fill out his log book.  He still “forgets” to test after a low despite his mother is nagging him in the background, “Did you retest?”  “Have you tested yet?”

Yesterday I was frustrated and I knew that part of that frustration came from being upset with myself.  I used to do all of this and now I seem to have problems keeping on top of him doing most of it.  I am getting paranoid because I have started to sleep a little more sound.  Am I waking up when I hear my child but tuning out the rest of the world? What if I am sleeping too sound and am not hearing him all of the time?

Why am I allowing the log book to fall so far behind? Why am I not checking that it is done at least every other day? Why am I not demanding to see the readings after a low? Why am I not paying attention to that test two hours after he ate? How did I get so slack? If I am this slack how can I expect more from my 13 year old?

Reality check Mom! Doing it all was easy when he was five and ate when you told him.  Doing it all was easy when teachers reminded him to test and he was not a semi-independent teen.  You do wake for the important things…your son stumbling around because he site is blocked and he is high; him hovering over your bed because he is low.  How can you keep track of two hours after a meal when every time you turn around his bum is sticking out of the fridge and his mouth is full?

Time flies by and one day seems to flow into the next.  I do look at his meter every day after school now…this is how I found out within a few days that he was not testing in the morning at school.  I did allow him a day to fix the error of his ways.  I did text him multiple times to remind him to test (he left his phone in his school bag).  I did punish him when he failed to hold up his end of the bargain and remember to test. I have begun putting information in his log book so that I have something to work with.

We have instituted some new old rules.  We are back to sitting at the table after school and filling out the log book every day.  I suggested that he test as soon as he gets to school. Its a little early but that reading will give me more information than a test 6 hours after breakfast.  He has decided to make sure he is carrying his meter at school at all times….HOLD IT!  Not carrying his meter at all times??? Nope, he keeps it in his locker during the mornings.  Ugh! He wears pants with tonnes of pockets.  He can carry his meter.  He carries it everywhere when he is at home.

My son is changing. I have some hope.  He is more aware of his appearance and his hygiene.  He is adjusting to a new environment and a new way of life.  He is being asked to do more regarding his diabetes care.  We are both trying to find our way and the stumbling? Well my knees are getting sore from tripping and I am sure his bum is getting sore from falling. Hopefully we will both keep learning and I will remember to keep my eyes focused on the small victories.

They are victories.  He is moving forward in his care…its just the backward falls that kill me as I seem to trip along with him.  The joys of parenting a teen with diabetes…I know, I am far from done yet!