Thoughts on (an adult's) semi-diabetes-related family incident?

Sorry that this is a bit of a tangent, but at least in my mind it relates to diabetes.

My now elderly parents are getting to a point where they have many more doctor visits and prescriptions than me, after being typically healthy (relatively speaking), for their entire lives.  A year or so ago, my father began taking an arthritis drug via injection.  Or, rather, my mother has been administering the injections to him, as he refuses to learn to do it himself because he is freaked out by needles.

At the time, I'm sure I was pretty overtly dismissive of that arrangement, and yes that had a lot to do with my having no choice in the matter in my own life.  But, for my father, it's a biweekly dose - nothing like insulin therapy - and I know it's certainly possible for two people who live together to coordinate to get it done, so that was the end of that.  It's not really my business, so I never mentioned it again.

Until yesterday, when I was visiting them and they were discussing an upcoming trip my father is planning, without my mother.  In the course of going over the travel dates so that I might visit my mother while he is away, he realized that he would be gone on a date when he is supposed to have one of his injections.  He proceeded to visibly freak out, even pulling out the literature on the prescription and reading the section out loud about missed doses.  They reached a consensus about what to do, again in front of me, based on logic that I don't completely agree with, and they intend to not consult the doctor lest he tell him to change his plans.

I was frustrated by this on several levels.  First of all, I don't even share my parents' interest in discussing the finer details of chronic medical conditions.  I have decidedly not discussed my diabetes management with them since I was in college (they know I'm in generally good health, that I see all the requisite specialists regularly and have no complications, and once or twice I've reminded them of what the a1c means and shared some particularly good results when they ask how I'm doing).  I wouldn't get anything out of going into details with them, but it seems to be therapeutic for them to vent or whatever, so I try to be polite and listen.

However, I think there is a difference between venting and putting other people in the middle of questionable medical decisions you are making.  (I don't know that anyone would approve of every insulin/etc. decision I've ever made in my life - I've even gone slightly longer than I should without changing my pump set for similarly frivolous reasons - but they were my decisions and I didn't poll other people who were not in any position to offer an informed opinion.)  I also think it's irresponsible of my father not to stay on top of these things when making travel plans, especially when he's placed my mother in the position of being his caregiver.

So, I basically told him all of that, and for good measure I also reminded him that I thought from the beginning that he should be doing his own injections.  Nice, right?  I know...  I realize that I should apologize for saying what I did, in the way that I said it, and I am going to, but am looking for alternative perspectives about what I actually said (and still essentially believe).  Maybe some of my assumptions are off-base, too?  I thought I'd ask here because I do know that my opinions on this are completely filtered through the lens of living with T1.

Thanks for any input.


PS:  One disclaimer...I developed diabetes in my late teens (yes, T1), when I was already in college, so my father's aversion to needles never got in the way of him caring for me as a child.  Nobody ever suggested when I was diagnosed that either of my parents should be involved in giving me injections, nor would it have been feasible, and I know that both of my parents would have done anything for me.  While my feelings on this are probably very complicated, I do know that they all have to do with how we each, as adults, handle our own health needs, not any resentment for any kind of childhood neglect.

I totally can understand how you'd feel angry and frustrated -- you have no choice in using needles.

But, if it were me, for the peace of the family, I'd probably just go along with it, assuming at their age, it's harder to learn something new. I'd probably say something like, "It's hard for me to relate to this because of my diabetes" if they asked why I was annoyed. Then, I'd complain to my T1 friends online instead, lol.

As for pulling you into medical stuff, I think it's okay b/c you're family. It's not like you were the mailman walking by. (; As your parents age, it's good to know what's going on w/ them.

It sounds like your Dad will have to deal w/ arthritis pain b/c he doesn't feel he can do his own injection, so maybe he'll rethink things on his own?

It is always hard to hear people complain about shots... I think your dad should know better. I won't say anything if a stranger is complaining or whatever but every now and then when my friends are (about a shot, or about how they HATE needles) I do end up saying... "well... you know.... i probably hate them more" with a wink and jokey sigh. I think family should know better. Maybe they didn't have an opportunity to since they don't know much about D but....... still. surely they know you had to take all manner of shots multiple times a day, and now have a canula in you all hours.

I was dx in college too... my folks don't understand it that well but they try. I understand that their problems are... just as hard? In a different way. In a "I'm older and this is chronic and are my best days behind me?" kinda way.

It definitely sounds like you're dad is being a baby but.... it must be really hard for him too. I'm a baby about some stuff (okay, most things) and I've definitely given my dad a hard time over stupid stuff way sillier than this. So... *shrug* apologies are always good if they smooth things over.

Hope this is well, and hope I didn't get too advice-y:)

I think you are entitled to your opinion and just because it's your parents you shouldn't feel badly for voicing it when asked. You may feel bad about the delivery but you can explain that if it will make you feel better.

I have a difference perspective as a mom that has to give her child injections and such. In the beginning I did the injections for her since she was 4 and sick and too young to do it alone. Then we got the pump and we did it for her again because it was new and scary to a 5 year old. Now we support her in taking charge of her care. No she can't do injections yet and no she can't change all of her pump tubing yet but she will be able to one day and it's our job to help her get there. Just as I feel it's your mom's job to support, not take full responsibility of your dad's care. Yeah my daughter doesn't like needles either, be truthful who does. But the fact of the matter is it must be done and one day that will be her responsibility and her's alone. We won't always be there just as your mom won't always be with your dad, perfect case in point outlined above with the travel. 

I don't know your family and I am not judging the arrangement your parents have, as I hate it when people do it to us. I have also learned that people do what is best for them and the people around them and it might be hard for other's to understand those choices. I only say what I said in the pretext that your dad should be able to manage his own care in the event that it be necessary and if your mom chooses to help when available, I say more power to effort of team work. There's a fine line between not being able to care for oneself and not wanting to and it sounds like this is not wanting to for your dad and that's a lot of pressure on your mom. Maybe your thoughts on the situation will help them to see it in a different light and encourage your dad to at least learn to administer his meds. 

I think you are entitled to your opinion, and I can see how I would be thru the roof if that happened with either of my parents. You probably do need to apologize, sincerely but you can explain in a more calm manner why you found it so frustrating (like what John said).

I think as a parent of a T1 child, you need to make sure other people can care for your child. Just as most of us had T1 diagnoses as a sudden shock (didn't plan for THAT to happen today!) we should all keep in mind that other accidents, etc. can also happen to us or our caregivers. You can remind your parents that it isn't just trips without your mom, but what if she was suddenly in an accident and couldn't do his shot? Should his health suffer because he can't find the guts to do it himself? Esp. when he will then be in a position where he will need to care for her and his worsening arthritis could get in the way of that?

I always feel like I'm bugging my husband when I make him do a site change on my son. I usually do them and my son is not a particular fan when he learns that Dad is doing the site. BUT - he needs to keep in relatively decent practice with it in case something happens to me. Maybe you can relay this feeling to your mom and she might be in a better position to encourage (or force) your dad to try doing his own shot (we wives have our ways!). And probably better that the first time be when your mom is there to supervise and encourage, rather than alone in his hotel room on the trip. When its easier to chicken out because no one is there to hold him accountable.

I'm not going to get in the middle of your family politics. People develop all sorts of weird roles and responsibilities in marriage and guys especially seem to rely on their wives to oversee medical care.  =)

But wanted to give you a different perspective.  My guess is that your dad takes a drug like Humera, which provides great treatment for arthritis.  It helps with his mobility and pain, but it's not life saving like insulin.   

My mom-in-law is a longtime Humera user and it has been wonderful and stopped her rhuematoid arthritis in its tracks.  However she had cancer this summer and couldn't take the drug for a couple months while she was in treatment.  The break from her medication hasn't caused any serious set backs.  My guess is that your dad will be okay even if he misses a dose. 

[quote user="jennagrant"]

I'm not going to get in the middle of your family politics. People develop all sorts of weird roles and responsibilities in marriage and guys especially seem to rely on their wives to oversee medical care.  =)


That's fair. lol  Seriously, thanks for the advice.

Yes, it is Humera that my Dad takes, in fact.  For the record, I probably wouldn't have said anything if he were just going to miss the dose until he got back, but his plan is actually to take it several days early - before he leaves.  Like I said, I've certainly taken liberties with when and how much insulin I take from time to time, including taking it prematurely for various reasons.  In hindsight, some of them were kind of stupid (e..g, going to the beach for several hours and not wanting to wear my pump, so bolusing a little extra before tearing out the cannula to try to counter going without the basal; getting a call from a friend asking me to go to lunch right after I had bolused to eat at home, and deciding that the restaurant was in walking distance and I could probably get there and order my food before I would go low).  But for crying out loud, taking a little too much insulin or taking it a little too soon is only really going to cause one side effect, and I'm not hypoglycemia-unaware, so when I've been wrong, I dealt with it.

But my dad resisted going on this drug for years, and he even made me look at the (page-plus-long) list of side effects/interactions at one point to try to get my opinion on whether he should opt out.  From what I remember, I don't really think that is a drug you should be playing around with the dosage.  But, you're all right, it's his life.  That is useful to know about your mother-in-law though - I truly hope she's doing better, BTW? - and I may apologize for what I said about whether or not he should be doing the injections himself and try to at least get him to delay the dose until he gets back rather than risk taking it too soon.

Thankfully my mom-in-law is cancer free now.  She also alters her Humera doses, sometimes to diminish complications and other times because she's trying to make the prescription last longer. (She has a fear of running out after having insurance problems getting it a few years ago.) 

Humera is a really serious drug and your dad should speak with his doctor if he's not having noticeable improvement.  For my mom-in-law it's been great.  She probably would be in a wheelchair without it. 

Our parents/in-laws are probably on an arthritis website right now posting about how their diabetic children make questionable dosing changes with their insulin... 

Take care.  -Jenna


[quote user="jennagrant"]

Our parents/in-laws are probably on an arthritis website right now posting about how their diabetic children make questionable dosing changes with their insulin... 

Take care.  -Jenna



Ha!  Touche, although it's probably safe to assume my Dad is not on any website right now...computers frighten him.

Anyway, yes, he is doing much better on Humera...he's used the word miracle.  All the more reason for me to be supportive of whatever system he and my mom are willing to commit to for him to take the drug.

I'm glad your mother in law is better.


No offense, but grow up. Just because you do not agree about a topic someone is discussing doesn't mean you need to start an argument over a small comment. Maybe he thought that because you dealt with shots all the time you may have some suggestions. Imagine things from his point of view. You even said that you discuss your diabetes with them sometimes and so even though you said "I made the decision not to discuss my diabetes management with them since I was in college' thats not true. He mustn't be aware of your discomfort or he would not of brought it up. 

Again, no offense I am not trying to be insensitive but you just need to empathize with him a little more. And you need to communicate a little better about your discomfort with discussing "chronic medical conditions."