At wits end

My daughter was diagnosed at 2 1/2 so we have pretty much lived through the ups and downs with type 1 diabetes. She is a very smart young lady and has always been so responsible but since hitting 13 its all starting to spiral out of control. She is not checking her blood sugar regularly, not eating like she should be and not even worrying about keeping her levels regulated. I have tried talking to her about how important it is she takes care of herself now so that she has a tomorrow to look forward to. I think it is going in one ear and out the other. Any advice on how to deal (for me and her) would be greatly appreciated.

This is extremely common. Just because someone has diabetes doesn’t mean they get to skip the rebellious, drama filled silliness of being a teenager.

The link has a great article written a couple years ago by a mom going through the same thing. Read it and the comments from others.

Maybe it can help you have a conversation with your daughter about things that challenge you and you can have a real talk about how you can help her.

Warning her about future health effects isn’t going to do it. That’s not what motivates any teenager. It might help to play on her vanity. The truth is high blood sugars cause bad breath, dark circles under the eye, and pale skin. Lows can make you act stupid and embarrass you in front of friends. Being out of control with diabetes takes your energy and can contribute to depression.

Know too that many of us who were diagnosed as young children go through terrible control in our teen and college years, but survive. I had A1cs of 14 or higher for a decade. Now I’m 40 and am complication-free and have a family of my own. I just needed time to grow up and come to peace with having diabetes.

My 16yr old son (middle child of three) has been a defiant, rude, irresponsible jerk to us all. The worst thing is that this affects HIS health and that my disciplinary actions are for his own good. He just doesn’t get it. On top of T1D he has ADHD and a behavioral disorder. His father also passed away last year, however, he was not fully involved in my children’s lives, it was a huge impact on us all. My son’s diabetes is out of control. His A1C went from 9.5 to 11.5 in 3 months. He doesn’t test and when he does he’s over 600 or in the 500s. The doctor told him at his 3 month check up that his diabetes is out of control and that he is damaging his body with each high blood sugar and his body will not grow. He’s already very small for his age. I want to send him to a boot camp or military school but I cannot find one that accepts diabetics. He’s been in therapy for over two years…nothing is helping.

I’m sorry you’re having to go through this with your son. I was just like him when I was a teenager.

Out of my frustration with diabetes I rarely tested and would sometimes skip insulin or take random amounts. I felt out of control and hopeless.

My parents and healthcare team all tried to talk sense into me. I met with a counselor at my diabetes clinic for years but it wasn’t helpful because I didn’t feel like any of them could understand what it was like. I was mad at the world that I had diabetes.

Hearing diabetic cautionary tales gave me even less incentive to try. I figured why bother running on a hamster wheel of good control if I’m going to get complications and die anyway. In my early 20’s it finally occurred to me that despite all the dire predictions, I was still here. I had a job, I had friends, and was living a fairly normal life.

At that point I decided to stop trying to live up to others expectations of me. I tested to see if I needed insulin or a glucose tablet and didn’t stress about the number itself. Ironically, that helped me test more and my numbers improved. Then I met my husband and he made it clear that he wanted me to be around for as long as possible so we could have a long life together. He encouraged me to get an insulin pump, and it made testing and carb counting really useful for the first time. When I became a mom I had huge incentive to live well and now my diabetes is just a part of life. Now that I’m older I also understand that no one has a perfect life, people deal with all sorts of trouble. Diabetes is just my deal.

I know your son is trying your patience. Your job as a parent is to push past that and to love your child even when he is unlovable. Try to connect with him and understand him. He is still a person. He is doing the things he is for a reason. Try to break through the barrier. I know this is much easier to say than do, but I also know your son is not hopeless. I wish my parents had tried harder… I was being a jerk, but my nasty attitude was a facade. Even if he seems like he is ignoring you, he does hear you. So make sure you are talking to him and being loving and honest. Share with him about your own experiences.

Take care and I will pray for your family. -Jenna

i’m at this point now with my 16 year old dughter. Her A1c is 12.7, she wants to quit school and move out. She just acts like she doesn’t care. Another round of councelors…She is depressed but dowsnt acknowledge it. The doctors won’t try medicine for it cause she says she wont take it. What to do??? No teen support groups in Maine. Help!

For all of our lives we are told WE MUST CONTROL our diabetes. The problem is that we are fully capable of doing so. Yes there are success stories. I compliment anyone who is a type one and has actually hit an A1c of 6.0. Yet as a T1 we do not receive the reinforcement and the reality that the medical research will never be allowed to cure a disease that nets easily a trillion dollars a year.
But what do you tell a teen that cannot satisfy the experts? It was live or die for me as it is for your children. But a depressed teen does not care. Teens reject illogical orders. They are the least tolerant of our blame based approach to managing this disease. It is my fault I’m diabetic. It is my fault my blood sugar is out of control. It is my fault I can’t satisfy the parents who think when my blood sugar is low and for as much as three or four hours after a low because I took my insulin like a dutiful little drone but then I played a pickup game of b-ball with some friends then had to cram a candy bar to stay conscious but I ate 2 cuz it’s better to have a high bs(blood sugar not the other one) than to drop out and convulse until somebody figures out what’s going on.
And now the blood sugar is too high and and adrenalin is coursing through my veins because that is a normal reaction to low blood sugars and now you’re upset with me because I was rude…
Any of this sound familiar?
Possible your own child?
I spent years analyzing why after low blood sugar events I was so angry and tense. I was not able to test blood sugar levels for the first 18 years but over the last nearly 30 years some parts of it are understandable.
But what do you do? You can’t hover over a teenager. It only escalates the stress which increases the fragility of balance.
I survived the teens and many more years with an understanding of my diabetes that seemed for a long time to be greater than the doctors. Even now the ritual mantra of control, control, control strikes me as negative. I only know for sure I beat the depression and more importantly the despair.
I say to the children “Don’t be a story, be a person.”