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Monthly Archives: February 2012

True Life

When I heard that MTV was focusing on life with diabetes in an episode of “True Life,”  I was… interested….hopeful….but skeptical. Over the years, I’ve watched a few episodes of “True Life,” but never one that related to MY life. Like most MTV programs, “True Life” can be fascinating and engrossing; however, MTV shows can also be tacky, crass, trashy, and just plain disgusting. I admit to a guilty pleasure where “The Hills” and “Laguna Beach” are concerned and even from time to time “The Real World.”

I realize that I am not MTV’s target audience–they want my kids! When I was teaching high school, I found it valuable to keep up on current teen culture and now as a parent of a teen, I still do! Happily, my teen is not the least bit interested in MTV (well, okay, he has watched the occasional episode of “Bully Beat Down” with his dad because, really, who doesn’t want to see a bully get his comeuppance?) As for my tween, KC? She doesn’t rely on MTV to provide her with the latest music videos or hot music, so the channel isn’t even on her radar. All that being said, I decided to give “True Life:  I Have Diabetes” a shot (ugh, terrible diabetes pun, not intended!)

The program focuses on three diabetics:  “On this episode of True Life you’ll meet three young diabetics faced with the challenges of managing their condition. Kristyn is forced to move back in with her parents because her health care costs are spiraling out of control. Matthew is determined not to let the disease compromise his partying lifestyle at college – despite the fact that drinking alcohol is dangerous for diabetics. And Jen is finding it difficult to control her symptoms while pregnant — which is putting her baby’s life at risk. They live with a constant threat to their well being. How will they cope?”

Let me start by letting you know how I felt when I finished watching the show:  sick to my stomache, angry, and sad.  And here’s why…

First, I am struck with the lumping of Type1 and Type 2 together.  No real explanation of the difference between the two—d$#m! Here we go again!

Kristyn appears to be trying hard to support herself by working two jobs but this is to the detriment of her health.  Her pump is old and failing.  Her insurance will either not provide a new one or the co-pay is more than she can afford.  She has racked up credit card debt.  The show flashes back to her in high school–attractive, trim, athletic.  Now she is overweight–is she prone to being overweight, is this due to depression, is it just because she is not taking care of herself?  I wanted to know what happened–but this was never addressed.  The producers probably think all diabetics are overweight.  Her parents offer to let her move back in, rent-free, but with not without many rules.  Her mother comes across as a witch.  The family appears to live in a nice house–but no offer to help pay for the pump appears.  This infuriated me–maybe, I’m too soft, but I cannot imagine not doing whatever I needed to do in order to make sure KC has the medical supplies/equipment she needs.  If it means that I never take another vacation, so be it.  If I never get a new car, so be it.  My husband feels the same way.  KC didn’t ask for this disease; she didn’t bring it on herself so we will be there whenever and however she needs us.  Furthermore, I know that the pump companies have payment plans available.  Even if her credit couldn’t get her the payment plan in her name, her parents could have taken it out on her behalf. $50 a month isn’t a lot when you look at how most people spend their money:  going out to eat/drink, going to movies or clubs, getting that Starbucks every work day.  Prioritize people! (And if you don’t agree with me, you are entitled to your own opinion..but you are not going to change mine!)

Then there is Matthew.  What an idiot!  He’s determined not to let diabetes ruin his “college experience”, which appears to be all about getting so drunk he pukes.  Never mind that the drinking is making him sick–which as we all know means he’s probably missing quite a few days of class as well.  He will drink himself into a stupor on a regular basis but admits that he was the “perfect T1” patient when he was a kid/high school student.  I can only imagine what his parents thought when they saw this show!  He’s quick to claim that as soon as he graduates,  he’ll stop drinking.  I hope he lives that long.  This episode terrified me.  Scared me to death about sending my girl off to college.  It is not that I’m a prude about drinking–far from it.  But the additional risks to T1s is too great.  Would I like KC to be able to enjoy a glass of wine when she’s an adult?  If she wants to, but I rather she think those are wasted carbs!

As for Jen:  she’s either type 2 or gestational–I can’t remember–living on chicken McNuggets and greasy fast food.  I’m supposed to feel sorry for her?  She’s got social workers, a nutritionist etc. all telling her what she is doing wrong and then her mom brings her more junk food.    To make matters worse, the show said that she turned into a Type 1.   She never improved her eating habits, didn’t exercise, and they didn’t show a doctor telling her she was Type 1.  I think the producers  mistook insulin dependence for being Type 1.  And as we know, insulin dependence alone does not make you a Type 1–they are different diseases.  Again, I was upset that the show did not clearly explain the differences between the types.

I don’t know if parents of T1s should watch this show or not.  I don’t know if teens/tweens with T1 should watch it or not.  I told KC about it and asked if she wanted to see it.  She said “No, I don’t need to see people acting stupid about their diabetes.”

The Great Sleepover Debate

Do you or don’t you? Should I or shouldn’t I? What if?

Tonight is KC’s first slumber party since she went on the pump last May. She hasn’t been invited to one since the week after her pump start. In that case, I chose to let her attend the evening festivities but picked her up before bedtime. And haven’t had to face that question again until this week.

I’ve said yes. I know there are other parents who don’t agree with this decision but we each have to look at our children as individuals not just as CWD. In KC’s favor, she’s extremely conscientious about managing her T1. We had a long talk about my rules for letting her do this, which include the fact that she must text me with her BG at dinner and at bedtime. She knows that if her BG starts to go high and doesn’t respond to correction, then she’ll have to come home early. She knows that she needs to rely on her friends for help and can’t be afraid to ask for it. She knows that she needs to speak up about measuring her milk and her syrup at breakfast.

In a couple of weeks, she will be 12 years old. At 12, I had been babysitting for a year, and was able to make dinner and bake without assistance from my parents. Yes, she is a child with a chronic disease, but she is also a tween who needs to be independent and not forbidden from participating in ordinary activities.

I recently watched MTV’s True Life “I have Diabetes”   I hated it.  (I’ll probably rant more on that in another post) Hated seeing what happens to some CWD when they are no longer under their parents’ supervision. Especially disturbing was the young college student who drinks heavily even though he is causing permanent damage to his body.  I wonder if this isn’t a form of rebellion–just like any teen whose parents are overly strict, T1 or not, who gets a taste of freedom and goes wild.  I don’t want KC to feel like she missed out on being a “normal” kid.  I don’t want her chasing the thrill.  I need to treat her just as I do her non-T1 brother.

Yes, there are special considerations.  Yes, contingency plans need to be made.  Yes, I will worry the entire night.

But

I have made sure she will be in the best possible hands.  Her friend’s dad is a family practice doctor.  I am sending KC with an emergency bag containing everything she could possible need.

We have pre-planned her dinner carbs.  The girls will be going to Ruby Tuesday’s for dinner and we took the time to preview the menu and store carb counts on KC’s phone.

And KC asked if she could take the mySentry with her….she wants it near her so it will wake her up if her pump alarms go off.

I always go back to “what is my purpose as her mother”:  to give her the guidance to learn to make good decisions; to help her grow to be a responsible person so she will be able to live on her own.

In essence, the same purpose as any mother.

T1 is a major part of our lives and we can’t escape it, but it isn’t everything.

Happy Valentine’s Day! mySentry Revisited

Can’t believe that one month has passed already! And I know you are wondering

“…well?!!!!! Do you still love it?”

And the answer is….

Yes, but not without some caveats.

First off, I do feel less stressed about nighttimes. Overall, we have seen an improvement in KC’s morning numbers because I have been more aware of changes during the night. But it has taken some getting used to!

Cons:

– I wish the monitor had an “away” function. It seems odd to have the monitor searching for the pump, when KC is away from the house.
– because this monitor is tied to the CGM, it has the same problems as the CGM. For example, occassionally on site change nights (we usually change between 4 and 5 p.m.) KC will go low around 10 pm and will drop rapidly. It takes the CGM a long time to catch up to her current blood glucose readings. What this means is that the CGM will continue to alert lows long after her BG is in the normal range…and therefore, the mySentry will continue to alert me of lows even though her BG is in the normal range. Which leads to the next con.
– you must remember to clear each alert from the pump in order for the alerts to stop sounding. In the case of situations like the one I described above, I must continue to get up and clear the alert each time even though I know her blood glucose is normal.
– as a result of the over-prediction of lows in such cases, I have ended up giving her too many carbs to bring her up which have then caused highs around 3 am. We’ve had about 3 nights like this–until I began to be more proactive. Now when KC is under 110 after 10 pm, I give her 2 glucose tabs. This small amount brings her up enough to stave off a further drop in glucose levels. This appears to be working–she is still a little high upon waking at 6 am, but we pre-bolus breakfast by 10 minutes and then she is usually back to normal by her morning snack time.

Pros:

– I have been able to catch lows early on as I mentioned above
– I have been able to treat highs without fear of falling asleep and missing lows that occur from correcting the high
– in our house, KC is read by the mySentry in almost every room in the house (we have a three story house and she is read in the 3rd floor playroom as well as on the first floor. Her Outpost in located in her room on the second floor.)
– I love that I can monitor her BG when she is in the bath or shower.
– I love that when she is home, I can check her BG without asking her (my husband commented on the same thing…he said he loved that when he passed by our room he could look in and see what her BG is.)
– I love that I can hear the alarms when I am watching TV in our family room.

Another reminder of the “New Normal”….

I have always hated visiting the eye doctor. I dread those appointments the way most people dread the dentist. Give me a good teeth cleaning over an eye exam any day! You see I’ve worn glasses since I was in the third grade and got contacts as a freshman in high school. I’ve spent hours in the exam room trying to determine if “this one is better than….click…this one.” What do you mean by better? Bigger or sharper? The pressure to pick the right one still makes my blood pressure rise.

And even though, I wasn’t the patient this morning, I was still anxious. Today was KC’s first eye exam since her T1 dx. As I sat there, while her eyes were being dialated, I was hit by the overwhelming sense of loss. Again, the loss of her old life…carefree and healthy. Back when we were only worried that she might need glasses. Now new words buzz on the doctor’s computer monitor and reverberate in my head.–“diabetic retinopathy.” One more thing to worry about; one more possible complication. One more reminder that things other people take for granted, like good eyesight, are always at risk for KC and other PWD.

Yes, her eyesight was fine. But the cloud is always there…

The fact that #1 son needed glasses was almost a relief! Something that can be fixed easily. Something “normal.”

 

 

**UPDATE***July 2013  At our JDRF Walk Awards ceremony they announced that the FDA has approved a drug that will successfully reverse diabetes-onset blindness.  I do not remember the name of the drug but that is wonderful news!