Educational informational

My 13 yr old son has diabetes and was diagnosed 5 years ago. He doesn’t understand the severity of the illness. He was hospitalized this past week due to high blood sugars and passing ketones through his urine. My mom also has type 1 diabetes but has been blessed with us not losing her from her 5 insulin shock episodes. My son has seen her go through this and thinks he will do the same. I don’t know how else to tell him he may not be as lucky. He is on the insulin pump and still does not cover for his carbs. I was hoping there was someone out there who had any suggestions. Thank you.

Hi, my 16 year old is not taking it seriously either…he started smoking! He had went on vacation with his Dad in December and came back a mess. I could tell he missed doses and his sugars had been high. He lost weight and was pale as a ghost. I didn’t even recognize him at the airport. We are meeting with his Dr. in a few weeks for his 3 month checkup and I have to hopefully get some suggestions from her on what I can do as well to get him to see clearly as to what he is doing to his body. If we get some good feedback from her, I will pass on to you. Im hoping she will also give me some recommendations on some family counseling. God Bless you!

Yes please thank you. My son has been losing a lot of weight. I didn’t notice it because I am with him everyday, but some family members came to visit and noticed. My mother also has type 1 diabetes and has been in 5 insulin shocks and he has seen her through those and thinks he will be able to come back the same. It scares me because I’ve almost lost my mom several times. I was told counseling for him would be good. Any help right now is good.

@djmom and @angie1113,
Your kids are not uneducated. This is classic diabetic rebellion. A lot of us went through it in our teens. I doubt a doctor appointment will make much improvement.

Most teens have bad judgement, high emotions, and some are even reckless. Yet diabetic teens are expected to handle their disease like mature adults. It has to be so hard to watch as a parent because it is your child hurting himself.

This link is written by a mom who experienced what you’re going through. Reading it and the many comments might help. http://www.diabetesmine.com/2010/02/teens-with-diabete.html

Start by thinking of the issues in your own life that need improvement, but that you struggle with, and use that as a reminder as you talk to your son. Are you struggling to lose weight? Quit smoking? Exercise regularly? Something else? Diabetes isn’t much different. We know we “should” test and carb count and bolus but the day to day grind of it can be daunting. If you are struggling in some area, would it be motivational to have your mother or doctor tell you you need to get your act together and start doing better so you don’t die young? Probably not.

Most people react better to positive changes. When I was in a diabetic slump once read a book about the Longest Living people with diabetes and a lightbulb went off… this disease won’t necessarily make me die young. That’s proven true. Even though I skipped shots and blew off my control through my teens and regularly had A1cs of 14+ for over a decade, I’m now a middle aged mom with no diabetic complications. Maybe you could work with your son to research the Joslin Centers study on people who’ve had diabetes for 50 or more years.

It’s also might help for your son to not feel isolated. Best cure for that is to watch some of the silly YouTube videos (you should pre-screen since some have PG-13 language) like “My Life as a Pincushion: The Diabetes Police” or do a search for “funny type 1 diabetes” you’ll come up with a bunch of stuff that will help your son know he’s not alone.

The biggest help will be to work with your child to figure out what diabetes management tools are actually helping him and lighten up on the rest. You mentioned not bolusing for meals. In the book “Pumping Insulin” John Walsh mentioned a teen who didn’t bolus for meals but who ate consistently, so his healthcare team added his meal bolus into his pump basal rates so he automatically got the insulin and didn’t have to worry about bolusing. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing. Maybe there are things that help your son. It sounds silly, but I tested a lot more when I got a bunch of One Touch Ultra Mini meters in different colors and had one at my bed, one at work, one in my purse, etc. Having them convenient and cute looking made a difference, even though I feel childish admitting it.

@djmom and @angie1113,
Your kids are not lacking knowledge. This is classic diabetic rebellion. A lot of us went through it in our teens. Not sure if a doctor appointment will help much.

Most teens have bad judgment, high emotions, and some are even reckless. Yet diabetic teens are expected to handle their disease like mature adults. Probably not very realistic.

But I know that as a parent it has to be hard to see your child hurting himself.

This link is written by a mom who experienced what you’re going through. Reading it and the many comments might help. http://www.diabetesmine.com/2010/02/teens-with-diabete.html

It also might help to think of the issues in your own life that need improvement, but that you struggle with. Do you need to lose weight? Quit smoking? Exercise regularly? Be more patient? Diabetes isn’t much different. We know we “should” test and carb count and bolus but the day to day grind of it can be daunting. If you are struggling in some area, would it be motivational to have your mother or doctor tell you you need to get your act together and start doing better? Probably not.

Teens (especially boys) act like they don’t hear you. You need to push past their lack of response and speak the truth with love. Use your own struggles to speak honestly with your child. See if you can identify his biggest frustrations and find out if there’s a way you can help.

The biggest help will be to work with your child to figure out what diabetes management tools are actually helping him and lighten up on the rest. You mentioned not bolusing for meals. In the book “Pumping Insulin” John Walsh wrote about a teen who didn’t bolus for meals but who ate consistently, so his healthcare team programmed a meal bolus into his pump basal rates so he automatically got the insulin and didn’t have to bolus. It’s not ideal, but it’s better than nothing. Managing diabetes in real life requires you to be very creative. None of us are textbook diabetics, but most of us get through the day and have long and normal lives without doing ourselves in. Find that sweet spot between diabetic perfection and what is actually worth it.

And look for the little things that make a difference. It sounds silly, but I tested a lot more when I got a bunch of One Touch Ultra Mini meters in different colors and had one at my bed, one at work, one in my purse, etc. Having them convenient and cute looking made a difference, even though I feel kind of dumb admitting that. Maybe getting a tSlim insulin pump (looks like an iPhone) would help your child bolus in the middle of the school day. Look for apps or whatever they think might help. And be willing to listen about the things they DON’T want to do. For example, I don’t like CGMs. It makes me feel like a robot to have both a pump and CGM. I also don’t like logging glucose results. My doctor isn’t thrilled, but my doctor isn’t the one living with diabetes 24/7. If I ever have unexpected highs or lows or think there’s a patter I log, but otherwise, I do what works for me in real life.

It’s also important for your son’s to not feel isolated or like a complication waiting to happen. Go on YouTube and search for “funny type 1 diabetes videos” or “My Life as a Pincushion: The Diabetes Police” and watch them together (make sure to pre-screen since some have bad language). And learn the truth about complications. Look up the Joslin 50 Year Medalist study. Research how complication rates related to type 1 diabetes have fallen in recent decades since tighter glucose control, ACE inhibitors, and eye exams have been available. Help your sons know they are not alone and that their frustrations are normal.

Even though I skipped shots and blew off my control through my teens and had A1cs of 14+ for over a decade, I’m now a middle aged mom with no diabetic complications and an A1c that’s been between 6.5 – 6.9 with rare lows, except when I was pregnant and had a 5.1. I am not an advocate of high blood sugars or letting your children run wild. But I do think doctors and parents should use common sense when dealing with diabetic young people. Just because their pancreases don’t work, doesn’t mean they are more mature.