Category Archives: parenting a teen

A New Chapter

This is a post I have put off writing.  My life has taken a new turn. I have not been sure how much I would share and let alone where to start, where to end and how to collect my thoughts and feelings into something sensible. I still don’t.

At the end of August my world seemed to shatter.  It didn’t of course, it simply changed courses at a time when I was least expecting it. My youngest son broke the news to me that since he was about to turn 16, he felt that he was old enough to choose where to live and he wanted to exercise his right to make that choice. I have been divorced from my children’s father for a number of years and we now live hundreds of miles apart. My son wanted to go home.  He wanted to move nine hours away to live with his father and be near his life-long friends.

To say that I was hurt and upset would be an understatement. I came up with all of the reasons that this was a bad idea. He gave me all of the reasons that it wasn’t. He said that he only had two more years and he could move out on his own anyway. I countered that these last two years were vital for me to help him, guide him and teach him how to handle his own care. This was to be our transition years. He countered that transitioning for two years while living with his father was an even better way to learn.  He does the bulk of his own care when he is with his father but if he got into trouble, Dad would still be a bit of a safety net. We continued to go back and forth on other issues like school, responsibility and learning to drive.

I told him that I would not allow it. I would not put his health or his education in jeopardy. I was hurt. I was upset. I cried more tears than I had in a long time. I contacted my lawyer. I reached out to friends and family.  I was soon reminded that this was not about me.  No matter how much I felt like a failure, my son was not moving because I was a terrible parent.  He was moving because he wanted the chance to be an adult. Saying no was saying no to my son and no one else. It would put a terrible strain on our relationship and serve no purpose that he would see. They were right so I cried some more and got to work.

I contacted my pump rep and got my son a new, in warranty insulin pump.  I contact our diabetes clinic and asked for his file to be moved back to our old doctor.  I bought school supplies, picked up new shoes and clothes and filled his prescriptions. I stayed up every hour that I could to spend it with him. I teased him a little about the things that he would miss out on  like bonding with our goldfish, fighting the dog for space on his bed, and lighting every candle in the house each evening. I told him that he could change his mind and stay. It wasn’t too late. He would laugh and say no.

His birthday would happen after he moved. We had an early birthday dinner.  We had an early cake. I gave him his presents early.  Inside of his card I gave him a list of things to remember, the first of course being how much I loved him, how proud I was of him, and that no matter what I knew that he was capable of caring for himself. He read my note. He smiled and put it away for later. The next day his father arrived, we loaded his belongings, I held him tight, we both cried (him a little, me a lot) and off he went.

As a stipulation of going, we arranged to discuss his readings every week. He was to upload his pump to the Diasend website and I would go in and see what was happening. This was one of the reasons for switching pumps–I could see boluses and blood tests from nine hours away. He also said that he would gladly Skype at 10pm when he had an assignment due the next day so that he could get my input. I really appreciated that –not, but reminded him that as I did with his brother, I would be in touch with the school and would be apprised of his marks and his progress.

Some people have asked what the big deal was? He was going to leave at one point anyway. I have to learn to let go. The big deal was one week to prepare myself when I thought I had two years…or more if he went on to trade school here. The big deal was he had not shown in the past an ability to take care of himself when away from me. It was as if I carried diabetes in my purse. If I wasn’t with him, he didn’t have diabetes and therefore did not need to test or do any of his care. I was scared of so many unknowns.

As a mother, I want to be there to protect my children–both of them.  I don’t want them hurt. Its my job to protect them. In the case of my youngest, that includes keeping him healthy and alive.  Now that I have had to hand his body over to him sooner, I feel like I have not completely done my job.  As I told him I know that he can do this. He has the knowledge and the ability but the desire is often lacking. Hopefully this experience will change that.  Perhaps now he will have that desire. Thankfully I have wonderful friends who continue to guide me and keep my expectations in check.

They have also helped me to find my way into this new chapter of my life as an empty-nester. Amongst many notes of support, a wise friend wrote…” A spectacularly difficult time for you Barb. But you have done everything you can to set him up for success. Now it’s up to him. Probably the hardest thing for all parents: letting go. Sending much love your way. You going through this will give you the experience to help other parents, whenever the time comes for them.”

So as Sandy wisely told me, I begin this new chapter in my life and in the life of Diabetes Advocacy–sharing with you the joys, fears, and realizations of parenting a young adult with diabetes from afar. It won’t be easy but parenting is never easy. Parenting a toddler, a pre-teen, a teen or a young adult with diabetes is even harder but we make it through with love, support and amazing family and friends.
letting go

Changing of Roles

Today is the first day of school.  My son is starting grade 11 in a new school.
 
For the first time since he has been in school, I will not be sending a diabetes information package to school. I will not be emailing each teacher and giving them a heads up on what to expect. This year, my son has decided that he needs to take charge of his life and his diabetes care.
 
I am nervous…this is a step up from the pure terror that racked my body when he first told me of his decision.
 
This school is not unfamiliar with diabetes.  They had a student a few years prior who had diabetes as well.  The community knows of his condition so it will not be something new for his fellow classmates.
 
I will not however, be going in and asking that they know about Glucagon or finding a person who will be trained to use it. I will not be taking each teacher aside and drilling into them as much information as possible.  I will not be sending my usual package of information.  This is all for my son to share. It is up to him what he says or does not say.
 
I am confident that my son “can” take care of himself.  I have been training him for years.  He has shown in the past that he can’t always be bothered to do this but he swears that a magic wand has been waved over him and he has changed. I don’t believe this but I have to let him try no matter what. This is the hardest part of being a parent. Its like watching them learn to walk all over again but this time you can’t pad the furniture and make sure that they land on carpet.  You can only watch, pray, and hope for the best.
 
I will contact the school and remind them of my contact information. I will tell them that if they have any further questions about anything including diabetes that I am available.  That will be where it starts and ends.
 
Young adulthood arrived in our lives sooner than expected.  Its now time to adjust to the new roles and be there when I am needed only.This is going to be a tough road! first steps
 

She Kicked Me Out!

Yesterday we had our regular clinic appointment…a day dreaded by mother and son for none of the obvious reasons.  We simply find it rather boring.  Because Mom is a bit obsessed, learns a lot, and surrounds herself with diabetes experts, diabetes clinics rarely have much new information to offer us. I also make it my job to educate my son so again, he is not often shown anything that he hasn’t already heard about. I will say that the people at the clinic are pretty respectful of this but we still must wait to see the required list of people…and we are easily bored. 

Yesterday was no exception…except when the doctor came in.  She asked my son his age and then asked me to leave the room! Wow! I have never been kicked out before! Well from kindergarten but not a doctor’s appointment!  

I know that he needs to learn to speak for himself and to communicate with his diabetes team.  He needs to know his rates and we are working to get him to understand where to make changes and how….BUT my son is super quiet! Don’t get me wrong, once he knows you and is comfortable it is impossible to keep him quiet but for the most part he is very reserved and mumbles one word answers. How was this going to work? 

I paced the floor outside of the examining room.  The support staff looked at me and said “Kicked out, huh?”  I smiled and nodded.  This was obviously a common practice.  As I paced, and worried that she would get no information out of him. I realized how important this was.  He needed to speak up on his own now before he reaches 18 and sees a new doctor.  I try to make him answer questions when we see his team but often he defers to me.  This one on one session would make him answer the questions. 

It seemed like I was wearing a hole in the floor. What were they talking about? Were they getting to talks of sex, drugs, alcohol and diabetes? That would be good…not that I want my son engaging in any of those activities, especially at his young age, but I don’t know enough about them to talk to them from a diabetes angle. 

Finally he came to door and beckoned me back in.  I tried not to be too obvious in my relief.  As I sat down, she turned to me for all of the basic information that my son could not provide…basal rates, carb to insulin rates, etc.  For some reason under the pressure of having to do it with a relatively new doctor in his presence, he had forgotten where to find the relevant details. 

I gave her the information she wanted.  She signed our DTC form without a second glance and refilled a prescription she had given my son during his last visit.  After she left, while waiting to see the other members of the team, my son expressed his approval of this doctor. Not only was she a nice person (and she is a nice looking lady which I am sure is not lost on a 15 year old male), she also told him that since he had great control he could forgo having his annual blood work.  She was a star in his eyes! I hope he realized that it was the hard work of maintaining good blood glucose control that allowed her to give him that reprieve. Either way…my little boy is growing up! Where has the time gone? I am guessing I will be kicked out on a regular basis now…. 

All in a night’s work

“Your correction didn’t work.” 

“What do you mean?  Did you fix it?”

My son looked at me a little strange. “There must have been a kink in the tubing or something.  The correction didn’t work. I fixed it when I got up.”

It was now my turn to be perplexed. “Why didn’t you just fix it last night when I corrected you?” For some reason I feared an occlusion alarm last night but really didn’t worry because my son was awake and would be able to deal with it. 

“Why would I fix it?” he asked. “I was asleep.” 

I told him that he was not asleep. He jumped up in his bed when I took his finger to test and then sat there staring at me.  When I did test him I asked him if he felt high.  He said no so I retested to make sure that the meter was accurate. I also asked him if he had been high before he went to bed but he didn’t think he had remembered to do that last test. 

My son continued to look at me like I was insane. “I did not wake up last night. I don’t remember you coming in to test me. I never talked to you after you went to bed until now.” 

The look on my son’s face when he jumped up in his bed did make me wonder if he was low or a little bit out of it.  My boys do talk in their sleep and have been known to climb walls while chasing someone in their dreams so the fact that my youngest failed to remember any of our conversation last night is not overly concerning.  The fact that he was high after being lower the night before is more likely attributed to the incredible amount of restaurant pizza than it is to a rebound. All in all, its just another night in our slightly odd life with diabetes! 

I often feel like the mother in Robert Munch’s “Love you forever


Welcome back to life with diabetes!

The new pump is on. The old basal rates have been retrieved. All rates are now posted on a sticky note beside my computer on top of the “MOTHER” heart my oldest son made for me back when he was probably in Grade 5 or so. 

My youngest son arrived home yesterday.  Together we sat down and uploaded the new pump and decided to try something different–we put food into the menu section of the pump.  Its a “thing” that allows you to have the carbs for favorite foods right there. We added the important things like Big Macs and Tim Horton’s Smoothies.  He was then good to go.

I really wanted to look over his meter and see what he had (or hadn’t) been doing while he was away.  I decided to let him settle back into his own routine first.  I thought about not looking at the meter at all.  What was it going to tell me? 

It would probably tell me that he ran way higher than I would like. It would probably tell me that he wasn’t testing when he was supposed to. It would probably just elevate my blood pressure and frustrate me.  There was nothing that I could do about the past. I was best to just focus on today and go forward. 

That was in an ideal world but by now you should know that I am far from ideal.  I had to look. I had to know. 

Just before bed, I asked him to see his meter. Despite the fact that I was sure that he was out of One Touch test strips, he swore that he had used an old green One Touch meter while he was away and left it behind (convenient!).  To make life simple for me however, he had found an old log book and written down all of his readings!  What a great child with diabetes.   

The logbook showed readings from every day.  There was one low.  There were some highs with notes as to what had happened. There were a few readings in range.  

My son waited for my reaction.  I said that I liked that he had written everything down but sadly he had logged before and created every single reading. I was not so sure that I could trust this book either. Part of me felt terrible for saying that. Part of me knew that there was a very good chance that I was right to doubt him.  Part of me hoped I was wrong.  I wanted to think that he did test when he wrote down that he did. I want to believe that the readings were all correct.  The diabetes police inside of me said that while some readings were right, he most likely did not have enough test strips for two weeks of using that meter.  His readings were far from perfect but not as bad as I would think that they should have been for all of the sites he swore he lost (four site changes in one day) as well as a pump that was failing. 

He just shrugged. I don’t know if that was saying “well I tried to get it by you.” or “I logged, you don’t believe me. Whatever.”  I hope its the first. Either way, today is a new day.  Last night was a night of highs.  Welcome home diabetes! 

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!