Teenage boy

My son was diagnosed a year ago at 14. I was initially on top of carb counts and dosing but I cut back as he started to own this. He quickly slipped into bad habits and has had high numbers ever since with a1c around 10. He is now 15. How often do you check your teen’s monitor? I tried to get him the g6 but my insurance doesn’t cover it. I just checked his monitor and it’s not good. I told him I’m sick of going to these appointments only to feel like a bad parent for not getting on him about his diabetes management. I told him he just lost his chance at getting his driver’s license. I’m so frustrated.

Hello, my name is Kylie. I have had T1D for about half of a year now and I am also 15. It does get tough managing it and sometimes(especially being a teenager) it can be very overwhelming. I often feel very unmotivated and exausted trying to manage it. It really helps to have a daily routine, there are a bunch of teen groups/chats for teens like your son and I with T1D and they are very supportive and personally they help me stay motivated and keep my BG levels good.

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Hello, my name is allison. I have had T1D for 9 years! i can say it does get tough managing it as a teenager. I’m 16 and basically what my parents do is that they download my pump data around 2x a week and if my blood sugars look bad and I’m not taking good care of myself they take my car and driving away from me! I’ll be honest it has worked and has brought my A1C down tremendously!

Allison you are so brave and mature to be so honest with me about this. This is exactly what I need and I think it will help. Thank you so much and good luck with managing your diabetes. I appreciate your wisdom.

Thank you Kylie. My son doesn’t think he needs a support group though I keep suggesting…
A good routine is absolutely missing for both of us. We keep slipping into our old ways because it’s just easier. I know…shame on us. Support and advice such as yours help re -motivate me so I thank you. Good luck to you:)

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I sometimes find myself slipping back in old habits at times, and I am still new to this whole thing. When I was first diagnosed I didn’t think I wanted a support group either, but they are truly are great and very supportive. If he is willing to try there is an app he can download called Beyond Type 1, there are a lot of teens and young adults who are 100% supportive and judgement free, that really helps. Good luck to you as well!

Hi Tina,

Sorry for your frustration. This disease is sooo frustrating. And I can tell you when I was a teenager it was a very tough time to deal with my changing hormones, pressures of school, and diabetes.

I have been diabetic since I was two so my situation was slightly different. But I am wondering if he is struggling with the fact that he was perfectly happy for the majority of his life and that was uprooted?? Hey be always felt that kids that were diagnosed later in their adolescence had it tougher than me. They had to completely change their lifestyle.

I can tell you as a teenager, the more my parents pushed the more I didn’t care. Particularly if my mom played the guilt trip. She would say things like “this didn’t happen when I was responsible for your care” and it pushed me further away. I carried a deep resentment when comments like that were made.

I am also guessing that your son is probably feeling like you don’t know what he is going through which is true to a point - parents go through the same stuff just in a very different way. I think you need to find a way to connect without expressing your frustration - and definitely do not put the burden of your feeling like a bad parent on him. I think that could easily create more resentment.

I think the driving thing is a good start as driving is already a top responsibility but as a diabetic we have to be extra careful.

Some suggestions that I have would be to set small goals. Don’t expect a 6.5 a1c overnight. Say maybe if he brings his a1c down one point he can take drivers ed, or whatever his next step is. I can assure you he is feeling guilty even if it seems like he doesn’t care. The self pressure is enormous with diabetes.

Another suggestion would be if he has a good friend even if they are not diabetic who would be willing to ask him questions. I always responded better to people who were curious about my diabetes better than people who would judge me.

Sometimes the thought of a support group is overwhelming especially if people act like they know exactly what you are going through. I still hate when I talk about something that is bothering me or that I went through and someone tries to tell me hey know how I feel. I would rather they ask me how I feel.

Another idea - depending on his personality might be discussing the consequences of diabetes. For many people, you don’t feel like the complications are real. It’s not like you go blind if your blood sugar is 300 for a day or week or month. You tend to not realize the impact that diabetes can have until you start to live the consequences. I can speak to this from experience now at 35 years old.

I’m happy to offer any advice I can give. Things will get better. You just have to find the right way to connect.

Thank you so much for your perspectives especially for those from a teen’s point of view. I have calmed down quite a bit and was able to broach the subject in a more rational manner. I offered support. He thinks I’m going to freak out every time he is high, which I have. This time I told him that we need to figure out together why it is high. For example, I told him to check his bs yesterday after he got up (1:30 pm). He was afraid to tell me that it was 240. I did not freak out. I asked if he though his Basaglar needed to be increased. He had a lightbulb moment…oh ya, um I may have forgotten to take it last night…The life of a teen… his wake/sleep hours change drastically on the weekends. Probably doesn’t help but I’m not going to force elementary bed times on a 15 year old.

I’ll probably need to read your post again as there was a lot of good perspective that I’ll need to digest. Thank you again.

Of course. Always happy to help when I can. I think if I would have had some perspective when I was his age it might have helped a lot.

Just remember that you are not wrong to be frustrated. And neither is he. This is a tough disease sometimes.

Hi there, i was diagnosed in 8th grade and I’m now 16 from a teenage point of view “elementary bed times” don’t help but rythhm and set schedules help a ton so like i try my best to go to bed in the same time frame every night but that time doesn’t have to really be “elementary time” like i try to go to bed every night at around 11pm including weekends and just having that schedule helps…also using alarms at night help a ton. I stopped using dex a few months ago because it just bothered me but that meant i had to be much more aware of my levels through out the night so i set one alarm every hour and i just wake up check it, correct if needed, go back to bed and that has helped me tremendously. Also group chats on social media for other t1d people have helped me greatly. They listen to what’s going on and actually understand. I feel like a lot of type one teens including myself have trouble finding others who actually understand being that most people we know don’t have t1d, i got so lucky and go to school with my best friend who also has t1d so we share and understand everything about each other but i also joined a group for type ones on snap chat this year and it has been amazing!! We would love to have him added to the group, tell him to add me on snap @becca0802 and i can add him to the group chat!!

I agree 100% with a good schedule. That will last you long into adulthood. I went a number of years going to sleep at different times - and I thought the pump would allow me to do that - but turns out for me a set schedule has worked wonders!

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Your son might be motivated to take good care of himself if he needs medical clearance to get a driver’s license. That is true in many areas (check with your DMV) for experienced drivers with various medical conditions, as well as first time ones. He may not want to listen to you, but perhaps you could contact his doctor prior to his next visit and ask them to start speaking with him about preparing for getting his permit/license. It may be something the doctor would address eventually anyway, but it couldn’t hurt to bring them on board now as a means of motivation. The fact that you asked them to talk with your son could remain off the record.

We had his endo appointment yesterday and I broached that sleeping schedule with him. The doctor of course suggested he be more cognizant of his sleep schedule and at least try not to vary it quite so much.
Thanks for emphasizing this.

He knows his driver’s license is on the line. We are hoping with his new formula adjustments, his bs will be more “normalized”. We are also trying to get a freestyle lybre, a cgm that HE chose. Fingers crossed that it gets covered by insurance. We tried to get the Dexcom but it was denied, however, I’m pretty sure that the Dexcom people dropped the ball and screwed up the order. Too late. We’re going with another system. The Endo has had problems with service from Dexcom as well. Interesting.

Hey I am not putting you down or trying to worry you. I just want to warn you that even though you are doing the best you can as a parent for his body to be healthy approaching this as something you make him do right or you take things away can make him resent you. DONT GIVE IN OR UP! just try to give a little you can never understand what it is like unless you have it.

Yes. I struggle with that often…not having it myself. I’m putting all my eggs in the cgm basket. I hope my insurance covers it.

Thanks for the advice.

@tlj Hello Tina,
I was diagnosed at 12 and the first year was a smooth breeze because my body still made a little insulin. I first thought I was getting better… then of course when my beta cells completely quit everything got difficult… then impossible.

Insulin is a powerful hormone. minor differences in any kind of activity, including walking… can make insulin 10x more potent than if you are sitting in front of a TV. at 14, body changes are ongoing and insulin requirements can and will vary greatly.

a 14 to 15 year old boy knows nothing of mortality. pre diagnosis, I just figured I would iive forever, and my parents could fix anything… and doctors gave you a pill and you then got better… then this thing happens… ,what the hell do you mean I won’t ever get better - why can’t you help me, why have you failed me? The world crashes in on you, quite heavily, when you get diagnosed.

There are some that are sensitive to parent’s stress and struggles, some that think they are being punished. at 14 I didn’t have the language to describe what I was feeling… let alone be able to rationalize “oh, I see I just have to do this and this because I have an incurable chronic disease and it will be like this forever but I didn’t do anything wrong”.

I have had type 1 for 40 years and my blood sugar is not “regulated”. I don’t even know what that means. in the width of 5 skittles worth of sugar is the difference from being low to being high. it’s a tiny target. The treatment for diabetes is painful, at best unpleasant. The only reward for doing a good job is I don’t feel sick in my head or stomach… for 15-30 minutes.

I just had a sandwich… I might have to walk later, do I need 4 units or 1… 4 units plus walking could put me on the ground with a low. I am just asking as an adult… does it make sense to put a drivers license at stake in this? Further to that thought, many people get a fear of hypoglycemia, because of how bad it feels.

A growing male needs adjustments every 4 months. Changes in hormones and body mass will affect his absorption and requirements.

A 15 year old needs help internalizing the concept of a no-fault chronic disease, and delicate help with grieving process of the loss of good health at such a young age, and probably some pointers on girls.

I get it. This disease is more than you asked for. it’s also way more than he’s prepared for. I am begging you to not to engage in a reward punishment system for many reasons - not the least of which is how to build self esteem now that he’s had such a personal “failure” by getting sick… now i know you don’t see it that way, but he might… I did.

Duly noted. Thank you for your insight. It all helps. After I calmed down, we were able to have a rational discussion. He is now on board with a cgm which is good. We had a good chat with the endo yesterday. He adjusted the formula. I’m hoping those numbers come down. You are right about parent trust. I think he was hiding his high numbers because he thought I’d freak out. I told him I need to know so that we can figure out if something else is going on. His a1c was 11.4 yesterday. He needs to be at 9 to get his license so that part is out of my hands. I left our appointment yesterday feeling like we have a good plan moving forward…sort of optimistic about the numbers which is good. I just hope that my insurance company covers the cgm

thank you for reading all that… this one’ll be short

a 470mg/dl does not mean a person is bad, or wrong. it means food is high and insulin/activity is low… that’s all.

it is very easy to confuse the issues of right/wrong good/bad with high/low blood sugar.

my a1c is 6.2% because I want it to be that. I have lows, recorded on my 90 day meter 'minder - of 34 mg/dl, which could kill the uninitiated. I have a real high of 390 mg/dl because I needed a steroid in January, and a “fake” high of 475, because I had ice cream on my finger (first time ever got a contamination “high”). all I’m saying is that with all my experience, there will be lows and there will be highs that cannot be avoided by formulas.

Hi TIna-

I’ve been there, trying to reason with teenagers. It get easier, i promise you…especially when they go off to college.

A couple of things stuck out in your post.
He’s been diabetic for about a year. I can guarantee he doesn’t want to be diabetic AND he doesn’t want to let you down. From what you have written, I’m gonna guess he’s feeling like he’s failing miserably on both fronts.
The biggest disservice I did for my son when he was about that age was to think that everything he did (or didn’t do) was a reflection on me. I know it feels like it is right now, but really, it isn’t.
Might I suggest at his next appointment, let the MD scare the hell out of him. Just sit in the chair and let the MD talk to him and let him talk to the MD. Keep in mind that if you feel like a bad parent when you go to these appointments, imagine how your son must feel, surrounded by two adults, pointing out everything he is doing wrong.

It’s only been a year. Sounds like he’s hit a rough patch.

About the drivers license… perhaps set it up as a reward instead of punishment for past wrong doings. Each of my kids responded differently in regards to parental requirements for obtaining a drivers license and the hard part was figuring out what worked best for them. (and then I failed miserably with that also…lol)

Speaking as a diabetic, I was completely overwhelmed when I got diagnosed and spent the first year or so adjusting to my new normal. I didn’t look at my blood sugar of 446 and immediately try to get it to 90. I set up little goals for that and managing my A1C, as well.
I started by shooting for 200 over three months time.
Then 170, then 150 and so on and so on

Maybe set a goal for him and dangle the drivers license as a reward?