Make it go away

Today I had a conversation with my son that left me both devastated and frustrated. I know that he is just being a teen. I know that he is trying to exasperate me…and he succeeded.
My son has a diabetes clinic appointment coming up in a few days.  Neither of us are excited by this event.  We don’t really get a lot out of it and the wait times are crazy.  He can’t wait until he doesn’t have to go anymore. I reminded him that he will always have to go to have prescriptions refilled, etc.He was not impressed. I have told him that I have to do the same thing but that does not appease him.  We have been doing this since he was 2 and he wants to see an end date.
We discussed the fact that he had to attend his clinic appointments because  he needed a doctor to sign off on his driver’s licence in the fall. I don’t know what exactly is involved in the licensing procedure but I am pretty sure that his doctor has to give him the okay.  My son then asked if his licence would be restricted.  I assumed it would, just as a person with glasses must wear glasses, someone using insulin will have to be using their insulin.
He was not completely appeased but was doing okay until a little later on.  He was complaining about his being hot feet and stated that he should run around barefoot all of the time.  I said that that may not be the best idea.  He said it was fine for the Indians! I said that they were not running on insulin and he had to watch his feet.
That was the final straw for him.  He asked why he should even bother to get out of bed in the morning? He would have to watch his feet for the rest of his life.  He has to check his blood each time before he could drive.  What is the point to any of it? If he was born years ago, they would have left him to die and maybe that was the right thing!
I wanted to cry (and still do).  I wanted to scream–are you crazy!!!???? I almost lost you once! That is NOT the sort of talk I want to hear EVER!
I tried not to be mad. I tried to understand but I simply said, “Yep it sucks but that is your life and you will handle it.”
I know this is teen frustration. I know it will pass but he does scare me.  When he does not have me around, he doesn’t bother to test. He swears he can tell if he is high or low and he just wings it.  Yes, he probably can tell when he is running in range but the higher he runs himself the less sensitive he is and the more danger he skirts around. What will he do when he is on his own? The years are passing so quickly.
I have been sent an advanced copy of Moira McCarthy’s new book “Raising Teens with Diabetes”.  Perhaps she will have some strategies to help me cope. I think I could use a few about now. sad

What was I thinking?

Yesterday I broke my own rule…the one that says “Do not look at your child’s glucometer for at least 3 days after they(you) have returned from being away.  Focus on the fact that they are alive.  Enjoy telling each other what you have been up to for a few days before you look to see how well diabetes was handled without your input.”

My son came home first thing in the morning after being away for five days over Easter.  We had spent a lot of the day chatting and carrying on. I had been in contact with him a lot while he was away.  I was surprised to find him texting me and carrying on conversations while he was gone.  Normally our exchanges when he is away are minimal and involve me waiting hours or even days before he replies. 

While he was away, I asked about readings.  He told me that he was running on the low side but no we didn’t need to make any major changes yet.  I was okay with that. I trusted him. He was saying all of the right things.  My little boy had grown up and was finally taking care of himself.  I was happy. He was happy.

With all of this positive energy floating around, I thought what harm could it do to check his meter early? I was going to be proud to see great readings and a decent amount of testing. Wrong, wrong and WRONG!

I saw a great reading and a few other good readings. I saw a low followed by an extreme high.  The biggest problem was what I didn’t see. I didn’t see testing before meals.  I didn’t see a lot of testing period.  At one point he went 18 hours with NO testing.  Not testing for 8+ hours while he was up was common. 

I scrolled through the readings noting time and dates.  I spoke them out loud.  I waited for excuses.  There weren’t a lot.  He claimed that the high was probably because he missed a food bolus.  I suggested it was more likely the result of a low that he missed since he was low, didn’t retest and went to over 28(500+) a few hours later.  He suggested that perhaps it was time to look at using a CGM.  I was calm as I told him that his behavior while he was away was not only irresponsible, it was downright dangerous. 

I left the room at that point.  Again, I was calm.  I didn’t slam the door. I didn’t take away privileges (he does so little that there is nothing for me to take away).  I simply left him with the knowledge that I was very disappointed.

Today, I am still disappointed but more than that, I am scared.  My son is 15.  He is in grade 10.  He will most likely have a maximum of 4 years left when he will live under my roof.  He has four years to learn to be independent. He has four years to be responsible.  His health is riding on that fact.  I hate that.  I want to be able to fix this for him but I can’t. I want to be able to handle it for him but I can’t. Letting go, growing up…its tough enough with my 19 year old who doesn’t have diabetes.  Its worse when you throw the dreaded “D” in the mix but all we can do is hope for the best and pray!

Diabetes…Leave us alone!

Lately diabetes has been taking a backseat in my life. I have been busy with a lot of major changes and dealing with other stressors in my life.  I have left the diabetes care to my 15 year old.  Everyone says that its his disease anyway.  I see the dead test strips throughout the house. I see him bolus and after a lot of nagging, he does change his infusion sets at least once a week.

Yes, I have been frustrated by the site change frequency.  I have also taken time away from focusing on my own issues to give him the regular…do you want lumps and bumps all over your body lecture.  To which I get the usual response of “If I was a UFC fighter, I would have all of those lumps and when someone punched me they would squirt blood.”  Yes, I then hit my head against the wall and ask “why me?”

I decided that it was time for things to get back to normal…or at least as normal as they ever are in our world.  I asked my son for his meter so I could see how things have been going in my virtual absence.  I knew how the nights were going. I was testing them and had made some changes but what about the rest of the time?

Well, we are left to wonder about the rest of the time because there are serious lapses in testing! I wanted to scream. I wanted to cry.  Was he ever going to learn? I asked him what exactly we were going to do about this. Of course he had no answers and neither did I.  Did I mention that I wanted to cry?

I will attempt to go back to the hawk-eyed mother I have occasionally been in the past.  I will check his meter more often. I will nag and adjust.  I will pray that he really does “get it” one day and take some solace in the fact that he does bolus for his food…well most of it anyway.
Give me strength….

Diabetes its a Time out for you!

Dear Diabetes;

I know that you have basically given me the summer off and I appreciate it.  You were on vacation for four of the last six weeks and I have very little input into what you were doing to my son.  

You returned a few days ago behaving like a spoiled two year old child in full tantrum.  I would kindly appreciate it if you would stop! I have not seen a bg level below 10 (180) or even close to 12 (215) since my son came home. I have injected my son for the past two nights to get some sort of control going on and you have bucked that by still not letting him come down into range. 

You have made his body used to being high.  We have tried numerous site changes to battle you.  I am getting tired. 

You have me up at 3am each night fixing all of the damage you have done throughout the day. You are creating more and more highs.  You are causing me a great deal of stress. I can no longer go back to bed and sleep at 3 but instead toss and turn for two more hours wondering if I will win this round. 

I am tired, Diabetes.  I would really appreciate it if you can finish with this childish behavior and behave for at least a short period of time. We are heading off on a plane today and then will be a way from home for a few days. Granted if there are any major problems we will be in the best possible place next week but guess what? I really don’t even want to see minor problems. I am done. Finished. Consider yourself on a time out! 

Thank you;
A very tired Mom. 

The Meter Ate It

“Why are there no readings from the time you woke up until an hour ago? I asked you specifically about testing more than once today. What happened to the readings?” 

I was going through my son’s meter, which I have been doing each day, to check for patterns and see if some of the highs he experienced while away were due to carb counting errors or if there were changes needed. 

“What? No readings? I know I tested.  Well, I know that I tested before supper. I told you the reading. It has to be there. Maybe I used the other meter. Let me check.”

Of course the other meter produced no tests either. He reminded me that he had told me his reading before supper, which conveniently was a perfect 7(126).  I reminded him that he had lied before; and I thought to myself, you lie with perfect numbers because I have lectured you about the dangers of me making changes based on false numbers.

He continued to swear his innocence and give me his best Bambi look. I wasn’t falling for it. I suggested that perhaps we needed to go back to him showing me each time he tested so I could verify that it actually happened. He continued to state that there had to be a test in his room somewhere. As I left his room I suggested that he find it and bring it to me when he did. 

I walked down the hall shaking my head.  Raising children is not an easy task–ask your parents and your grandparents.  Raising teens is a bigger challenge. Raising a teen with diabetes? Well they tell me we will both make it through and I will look back going “Wow, that wasn’t so bad.”  In the meantime, I guess I will be triple checking my son’s glucometer for the next little while.  

Slides are not always fun

I have been trying to give my son space.  My boys are growing up and I have to step back and allow them to fall on their own at times.  I think that is the hardest part of being a parent thus far.  The older they get, the less I can stop them from doing things that could harm them. I have to sit back and be ready to wipe their knees and help them back up again.  Diabetes is no exception.

For almost 12 years, I have preached about testing, bolusing, counting carbs, carrying meters, carrying glucose and the list goes on. Now that my son is a teen, its important that he start doing many of these things on his own. It is also important that I don’t drone on and on so that he completely tunes me out. Finding that balance is hell!

Now that he is more self-sufficient, I don’t think as much about two hour after tests. I go to bed knowing that he will test and if he is not in what we have established as a “good” range, he will either get me up or handle it himself.  I know that he always has his kit with him. I know that he usually has glucose somewhere in a pocket. 

Being a teen, he can take advantage of that trust…and does.  Last night I went through his meter. I knew that we were having a few issues with lows so I had let things go for a few days to see if there was a pattern or if it was human error.  As I sat down with meter and paper, I found huge lapses in readings. I really didn’t know what to do.

The lapses were during the day.  They were sometimes while he was with me. More often, they were while he was at school or with friends. My son is terribly private.  I think he is dangerously private when it comes to diabetes. He doesn’t want his friends to really “see” his diabetes.  He carries his meter but he leaves it in his pocket. He is great at detecting when he is out of range so he uses his internal compass to keep him out of trouble. At night, when he knows he will not wake up from a low, he makes sure that all tests are done.

I was proud of myself. I didn’t yell when I saw blank spaces of up to 10 hours with no readings. I wanted to scream but I also wanted to cry. I was failing. I was being too lax. I laid out some new ground rules for the next little while. He will do all of his tests at school. No exceptions. No excuses. He will text me those readings for the next week. I will text him to remind him (in case his pump is not enough of a reminder).  If he fails to do this, he will lose all online privileges including his xBox. 

I then told him that testing takes about 10 seconds total.  It can be done quietly by heading into the washroom or sliding it out at his desk. He does not need to draw attention to himself. He can stay private but he MUST test. He is putting himself in danger. I told him that quietly testing himself will not draw nearly the attention that throwing up from being high or passing out from being low will. Those are big time attention getter’s. If he wants to avoid them happening in front of his friends then he must test.

I left it at that. I was sad. I was ashamed. How could I let him go so long with no tests? Because I believed him when he said he tested. I trusted that testing when he got up was routine. 

I give him breaks in his care. I test for him. I bolus for him. I help him with carbs. I remind him.  I back off and let him remember. I do not ask a reading before asking him how his day went.

Its a struggle.  I know we are moving forward. I acknowledged how much I appreciate that he is bolusing. I told him that remembering to test before bed was super important and I was so glad that he was doing that. 

He is now in class for the day. I have texted him asking for his reading. He hasn’t replied.  I am hoping it will happen by their first break. I hate one step forward and then sliding back. I know…its called parenthood. I have to be glad that there is forward movement but… AAAAAAHHHHHHH!! Okay I feel better! Today is a fresh new day.

I Googled “fear of slides” and this image popped up!

I should have run over a meter

Last week was a bit of a muddle. I injured my foot and spent most of the week sitting on the couch going crazy. I hate being laid up but my foot was not happy if I used it.  As I sat, self-absorbed and frustrated, I really did not pay a lot of attention to diabetes.

I yelled out the normal “Did you test?”.  I asked what he bolused and helped to calculate meals. I hobbled out of bed each night to test. I failed at Reading Review Thursday and swore we would do it the next night, and the next night, and so on.  I didn’t keep track of when the next site change was due and sadly trusted my 14 year old to actually pay attention to the alert on his pump. Yes, I majorly failed as a parent of a child with diabetes and diabetes got its revenge.

I finally looked at my son’s pump after a bolus and decided to check when the next site change was due.  My son quickly grabbed his pump back and attempted to escape my limited grasp.  I somehow hauled him back and reviewed the screens.  The site change was FOUR days over due! I could not breathe. I wanted to beat him with his tubing. What was he thinking? Or not thinking? What the heck was I going to do to get him to remember?? 

I told him to change his site NOW! No games, no chats, no text. March his butt in his room and change that site before I put one in his tush! I was doing my best to breathe and allow him to live another day.  He had been high for the past few nights…now I knew why.  

I kicked myself.  I should not have allowed things to slide.  I should have been on top of things. I have been slack on a lot lately.  I had to pull myself together! The next thing was to review the readings. 

I had him bring out his meters and a sheet of paper. We were going to get down to brass tacks and review things. 

“Mom, we really can’t make a lot of changes.  My site was really old so the readings won’t be accurate.”

Thanks! I needed to be reminded of how we failed! I told him that I wanted to check things anyway. I looked at the first meter. It was his USB one.  This meter is still so neat but I couldn’t remember how we reviewed readings without sticking it into a computer. Finally we figured it out and I began my review.  I loved the highlighted highs and lows.  The readings were everywhere but the display was so cool that I was oblivious to much else. 

Next I moved onto the school meter. There were no readings. None. Nothing. Was he using a different meter? He brought out a second one. It had a few readings but something was seriously wrong. He swore he tested. I checked the dates on the meters.  We have a real issue with One touch Mini’s changing the date and time.  I know that they are supposed to be the most accurate meter on the market but this problem drives me insane. 

The meter was off…like by years! It had the time as two hours later than it should be, the year was 2010 and the dates was October.  How the heck was I supposed to go back and figure out what he really was and when? He had missed tests so I could not really even take three tests each day and guesstimate.  I was frustrated. 

We made a small change and I told him we were going to have to be way more on top of this. He had to test at school.  We had a problem but I couldn’t solve it without the data of those tests.  

As he left, I wanted to scream at myself. How could I be so slack? He is only 14 and he is a teen. He forgets. He gets lazy.  If I was on top of this days ago, I would have information and would have known that the meters were off.  I wanted to cry.  I wanted to yell. I should have run over a meter. That just may have helped. 

Instead, I promised myself that today will be better. I have circled his next site change on the calendar. I will try to be more proactive. I will work harder to be a better pancreas guide.  I have to. We aren’t allowed to quit.  

She’s Gonna Blow!!!

After a few days of diligently testing and calling, I knew that things would have to go down hill. You cannot expect perfection in a teen away from the grasp of his mother…but you can hope! 

I sadly did not have long to wait before he fell off the contacting wagon. For days I had no idea what my son’s readings were like. I only had the word of his older brother and a friend of mine that he was alive and doing well.  As I mentioned before, his phone is dead and catching him at his father’s is basically impossible.  We had agreed that he would call me each morning with his readings and to touch base. 

It would appear that he decided to take the long weekend off from calling me. Mom quickly reached the boiling point. The first day of no call was okay.  He was enjoying himself but he will call the next day.  The next day of no call? Well, I was working to stay calm but began texting  his poor older brother to death.  Messages telling one child to have to the other call were wearing out my fingers.  I even gave my oldest son permission to kick his little brother’s butt for parental neglect but still no call.

I was going insane. I tried to figure out a fitting punishment to help him to realize that he had to contact me on a regular basis. I couldn’t bring him home early.  Dad has rights.  I couldn’t immediately take away his privileges or ground him since he isn’t at home.  I was sure I would hear from him at one point today. Three messages to his brother in the first few hours of the day would lead to action….and it did.

By the afternoon of day 4 of no contact he called. In a sleepy voice he wondered what the problem was.  Hadn’t he just called me yesterday? well at least the day before? WRONG-o!! I told him that it had been days! I reminded him that he was to call EVERY day when he got up.  Continued failure to do so would result in the loss of xBox privileges when he got home. He agreed.

I really wouldn’t mind if he missed a day but allowing that to happen once led to four days of no contact and blood glucose levels in the 20s (360+).  It was just not an experience that I wanted to repeat. Hopefully we are back on track…until the next fall. He will have his own phone back by the end of the week so I can text him and give his brother a break from being the go-between.

I now feel better. Hearing his voice and making the required changes helped a lot.  As much as I know that his father needs time with his son, and my son needs time with his family and friends, the joys of shared parenting and summer vacation can be stressful.

He’s only thirteen, he’s only thirteen…

He’s only thirteen.
He’s only thirteen.
He’s only thirteen.

That is the mantra I was saying to myself on my drive to deliver insulin to my son at school first thing this morning. After recently bragging about his A1c, after talking to other parents about what was working to get my kid to take care of himself and be responsible, I am now back to the point of knowing why animals eat their young.

Today’s drama began last night.  At 4am, I stumbled into my young son’s room to test him. He was high.  I checked his pump.  He had 10 units of insulin left and was supposed to have changed his site earlier that day.  Gee, I guess I knew why he was high!  I grumbled and left the cartridge for him to fill up when he had his breakfast in the morning.

Breakfast arrived with its usual chaos.  I was cooking bread dough (toutons).  It is not the healthiest breakfast on the planet but a treat loved by our household. As I cooked, there were also dogs to be fed and my son’s lunch to be made for the next day. When my own tea and toutons were done, long after my child had left for school, I remembered, “He didn’t bolus his breakfast!”

Larry asked how I could know that.  I told him that with that breakfast he would have had to verify the carb count with me and he didn’t.  I texted him and asked if he bolused.  No answer.  I called him.  This time I did hear from him. Nope, he had forgotten.  Ugh! I gave him a quick total and told him to bolus NOW!

A few minutes later I got a text from my son.  “I only have 2 units of insulin”
(Insert a lot of cussing under my breath) “I guess you didn’t change your cartridge this morning before you went to school.”
“I forgot”

(More swearing to myself as I headed to the shower).  What would he do if I were not able to just hop in the shower and run him up a full cartridge of insulin? He had two units and his breakfast required close to 12!! For petes sake! You would think after a day of alarms he would notice something like this! (insert a lot more cursing to myself and then add in the fighting back tears of frustration) When will he learn? Will he ever learn? Larry had said that I will still be asking him if he bolused when he is 35. I agreed and now wondered if he would still be forgetting everything like he does now?  We have been at this for over 11 years! When does it sink in?

And so the internal conversation continued as I got ready and drove to my child’s school.  The closer I got to the school, the more I began saying “he is only 13.  He is only 13.”  It was interupted by the “when will he ever learn? I brag about how much he has changed and how great he is doing and then this? He constantly forgets site changes and now no insulin despite repeated alarms??…He is only 13.  He is only 13. The mantra continued.

By the time I met him at the school I was a lot calmer than I had been but he was still very skiddish. I was waiting for him in the foyer. I could tell that he wanted to take the insulin and run.  No such luck! I sat him down and asked for his pump.  We were doing a site change right then and there as well as putting in the new cartridge and correcting.  He could not get away fast enough when I was done!

This evening when I picked him up after ball hockey, he immediately told me that he was “getting better at this diabetes stuff.” 
How do you figure that one?
“Well last year I forgot insulin a lot of times, but its only been twice this year!”
And that makes things better how? You had 12 hours of alarms that you missed!

He continued to quietly stay in the backseat for fear that I may yet choose to eat my young.
Ah the joys of life with a teen with diabetes!