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Category Archives: Teens

4 Years Is Enough Time to Make A Difference

Today, December 20 2014, marks four years since my daughter was diagnosed with type one diabetes. Oh how far we’ve come! And oh what we have learned!

For those of you whose children are newly diagnosed and even those still struggling after years, let me share my daughter’s experience.

2,103,796 minutes

2,103,796 minutes

In 2010, she was a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a student, a friend, a leader.  Also, an athlete, a straight A student, a musician…and a pre-teen. And as I look at the picture on the left, I see she was thin and tired.

In 2014, she is a daughter, a sister, a granddaughter, a niece, a cousin, a student, a friend, a leader.  Also, an athlete, a straight A Honor student, a musician….and a high school freshman…and an advocate. And this year’s picture, shows a happy, vibrant, healthy young woman.

Is she perfect?  No.  She has been known to forget to bolus for lunch.  She has walked out the door without test strips.  She has underbolused and overbolused.  She is guilty of the “sigh-roll”–the combination eye roll with sigh for emphasis so many teens are guilty of doing.  She thinks I am a “diabetes dork” for doing awareness activities in November.

But her endo is happy with her a1cs.  Her dietitian is happy with her eating habits.  Her teachers are happy with her in-school management of her Type 1.  I am happy that she is a good kid who is confident of who she is and true to her values. I am proud that she has been in charge of each of our four JDRF walk teams..she sets up the page, she sends out the emails, she hounds people over and over which has led to her getting a Golden Sneaker each year and raising almost $20,000 so far.  Diabetes is a part of who she is but it does not define her.

So here is what I would tell the mom I was 4 years ago, if I could:

1. It is only a number; correct and move on. Do not take bg numbers personally. You can eat exactly the same things at the same time each day and still have wonky numbers.

2. When faced with an opportunity for your child to do something, ask yourself “what would I say if diabetes wasn’t in the picture?” If the answer is yes, make a plan. Find a way.

3. Be an example to your child while still following their lead. Kids are naturally resilient–they are ready to get back to living their lives, albeit now with external insulin on board, much more quickly than we parents are. The more we encourage and allow them to be kids, the better our chances that when they do rebel, the rebellion will be minor and short-lived.  Don’t let “What’s your bg?” be the first question you ask your child when they get home from school each day.

4. Keep Calm and Carry On isn’t just a catch phrase. Don’t freak out about D things in front of your child, or where your child can overhear (or read over your shoulder). But I admit, I still gasp when my daughter’s pump falls off her waist band.

5. Your child will still be the same person after diagnosis. Overachievers will still overachieve. The lazy kids will still be lazy. Drama queens will still be drama queens. Laid back kids will still be laid back. IF you let them. (Go back to #2) Sure the pre-teen and teen years shake that up…but they do for ALL kids.

6. Diabetes is not the reason for everything that happens. Look at the whole child and not just diabetes.

7.  Don’t let technology dominate you.  She was approved for a cgm and pump 3 months after diagnosis.  These are wonderful tools—use them to make life easier, more normal–not to try to chase a flat line bg every day.  Let your child use the cgm data to confirm what their bodies are telling them.  If my daughter thinks she feels low, she looks at cgm–if the cgm confirms her feelings, she goes ahead and treats the low.  A bag of fruit snacks is not going to kill her.  If her feelings and cgm don’t match, then she confirms with bg check.  If the cgm alerts that a high is coming on, she starts drinking water to help flush out the sugars and prevent ketones.  She has learned about meal spikes and not to treat them.  But she is not looking at the cgm all the time.  She trusts it to do its job and she trusts herself to know her body.

8.  When you are having a day with diabetes is weighing heavily on you, look at those who are living with it and succeeding.  Surround yourself with positive images and remove yourself from places where negativity dwells.  It isn’t always easy to do, but you will be happier and healthier for it.

9.  Get involved in advocacy, even if your kid calls you a “diabetes dork” for doing so.  Find your niche.

10.  Don’t forget to take care of yourself.  Marriages and other children sometimes suffer because we focus so much on diabetes.

 

We can do this…because we MUST do this.  The true test of our character is not how we handle things when life is easy, but how we manage the challenges.

 

Happy 4th Diaversary to my lovely daughter!

 

I am More….

The world is a all a twitter with news that Miss Idaho wore her insulin pump during the bathing suit competition. And we in the DOC are so proud of her for winning the competition and bringing Type 1 diabetes to the forefront.

But at the same time, it appears the message is lost because of a single photo. And God Bless Sierra Sandison for writing this blog post:  http://missidahoorg.blogspot.com/2014/07/i-am-more-one-of-themost-touching.html

In it,  she explains how thrilled she is to have touched so many, but wants us all to remember that we are so much more than whatever burden we bear in this life.  She has asked people with T1 D to not only #showmeyourpump but also share who you are as a person.

 

So here is my pumper

...show off her insulin pump

…when she started pumping

 

And now….

all grown  up

 

 

Still wearing her pump…sometimes it shows and sometimes it doesn’t.

 

So who is she besides a girl with a pump?

  • a daughter
  • a sister
  • a granddaughter
  • a cousin
  • a loyal friend
  • a singer
  • an actress
  • a musician
  • a volleyball player
  • a tennis player
  • a student
  • a person of Faith

And what has she done since becoming a pumper?

  • Made it to the regional science fair TWICE
  • taken the ACT as a 7th grader
  • led her volleyball team to a tournament championship
  • been named MVP and All League for volleyball
  • played 8 seasons of volleyball
  • attended volleyball and acting camps
  • been student council treasurer
  • sung numerous solos and duets/trios for school and church
  • maintained straight A’s
  • qualified for all honors courses in high school
  • raised thousands of dollars for JDRF
  • seen Luke Bryan, Lee Brice, Cole Swindell, Billy Currington, Kacey Musgraves, Lady Antebellum, and Josh Turner in concert (going to see Jason Aldean and Florida Georgia Line next)
  • met the actress Maddi Trumble, who played Mary Poppins in the National Tour and got to go backstage
  • traveled to Nashville, Walt Disney World, and the Bahamas
  • taken part in a clinical trial of the Artificial Pancreas
  • been Superhero of the month by her local JDRF chapter
  • been part of a story in Insulin Nation
  • volunteered as a counselor at Vacation Bible School
  • raised money for Ovarian Cancer
  • made money as a dogsitter
  •  learned how to sew
  • ….and so much more!

Thank you Sierra Sandison for being more than a person who wears a pump! And cheers to all who are more than they appear to be!

 

Wicked Awesome!

A shout out to Moira McCarthy and her latest book Raising Teens With Diabetes: A Parent’s Survival Guide.  If you don’t know who Moira is….you need to find out!  She is a d-mama, JDRF advocate, writer, blogger, and the list goes on and on.  I didn’t “meet” Moira until the 2012 World Diabetes Day Postcard exchange connected us.  Cyber mom that I am, I quickly checked her out on Facebook and messaged her.  That was a great day!  I can’t believe it has only been 6 months since that first contact….I feel like I have known her forever!  She is my go-to gal for anything teen parenting related.  She is my touchstone….

As I read the book, I found myself nodding my head, saying “yes, exactly” over and over again.  Her common sense approach to parenting a teen with Type 1 diabetes is so much more than a diabetes book.  Having been a high school teacher, long before becoming a parent, and parenting a teen before my T1 kiddo got there, I can honestly say that her style works for teens in general.  I don’t want to be a spoiler so I won’t say more….buy the book!

And while you are waiting for it to come, check out Moira’s blog Despite Diabetes.  You won’t be disappointed.

Moira McCarthy, you are ‘wicked awesome”!

Rebellion on the Horizon?

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A hot topic on Facebook T1 parenting support groups these days is teens (ages 13 and up) lying about their bg, whether or not they tested, not giving insulin when eating carbs etc.  Got me thinking about my perfectionist, competitive now 13 year old KC.  I cannot see her doing those things…..but other parents assure me they never dreamed their obedient, model T1 would change during the teen years either….yikes!

So I decided to ask KC what she thought about teens not testing, not giving insulin and lying about all of it to their parents.  Her reaction?

 

….

 

(long pause)

 

….

 

(eye brow raised)

 

….

 

 

“That’s stupid…..just plain stupid.”

 

I probed further.  Maybe some teens don’t want to deal with D any more and are trying to deny they have it?

 

“Like not taking insulin is going to make it go away?  That’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard!”

 

Well, some teens are just rebellious.

“Why would you do something that is only going to make D worse?”  That is just stupid.  I don’t understand.”

 

You might change your mind when you are 16.

 

“What?  I’m going to become stupid when I turn 16?”  (followed by eye roll of magnificent proportion)

“Like that’s really going to happen!  Stupid, it’s just stupid because it’s stupid.”

 

Okay, folks, I’ve documented it….now to see if she sticks to it!  If not, I have the proof that she said it!

 

Permission to Test

3 years ago #1 son took the ACT as a 7th grader. We were understandably nervous, but knew the test was really just for the experience of taking it. As a member of Duke Tip (Duke University’s Talent Identification Program), he was eligible to take either the ACT or SAT that year. He did very well and was honored at Duke University for his achievement. From that moment, KC has been talking about when she takes the ACT. ( Have I mentioned that she is extremely competitive with big brother?)

3 years ago was before….

Before diabetes entered our lives.

Today KC is taking the ACT. This time I’m not nervous about the test itself. But I am nervous about how will her diabetes behave today.

When I registered her for the test a few months ago, I came across the section that asks if the student has any special needs such as…..and there it was….DIABETES.

Diabetes is a special need. As much as we try to live our lives acting as if diabetes is just a nuisance or an inconvenience, I was reminded again that it is so much more. I was reminded that my child, who needs to eat and drink when she needs to eat and drink in order to stay alive has to seek permission in order to eat or drink in order to stay alive. Reminded that my daughter who needs to test her blood sugar to stay alive must seek permission to test her blood sugar to stay alive. (SIGH…)

act diabetes form

“There is no living thing that is not afraid when it faces danger. The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.” L. FRANK BAUM, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

March and April have flown by….KC turned 12 and #1 Son turned 15. And as I reflect on the past few weeks, “fear” is what comes to mind. New fears, old fears….I feel like I’m living in a constant state of fear. It’s kind of my basal rate…always there in the background. Which seems odd to me, because although I am a self-professed worrier, I am really a “find the silver lining” type of person. I’m used to always looking on the bright side on things. But not lately…maybe I just need to get those fears in writing and face them. So here goes:

– the onset of teenage driving in our very near future. #1 son can get his permit at anytime now that he is 15.

At this point, I have absolutely no idea how I will react when he actually starts driving. I can’t bear to think about it for too long. It is unfathomable.

– the always present, always unpredicable Type 1 diabetes

Most days, I feel like we’ve got a handle on it. Until….a volleyball game, or party, or bad site, or broken meter or insurance bill and so on and so on.

I remember the initial fears after her diagnosis. Fears for her future, fear about whether or not I could give my kid a shot, fear about the calculations that needed to be remembered, fear about making a mistake.

Then came the insulin pump. New set of things to learn; new mistakes to make. Now I can’t even remember how we managed on daily injections.

In August, KC’s endo told us we could adjust her basal rates temporarily to help battle lows and highs. What? Me change those numbers, even temporarily, without consulting a doctor? Are you nuts? But we tried it. And it helped. We have other CWD friends who have never attempted it even though they’ve been on the pump years longer than KC—fear is definitely a factor for them.
And in April, at her latest endo appointment, KC’s doctor suggested changing her bolus rates temporarily when she is going low from sports. WHAT? ARE YOU NUTS? And we haven’t tried it yet….too scary.

But these directives to be more independent scare me even more because we are being led to the day when KC manages this all alone. We are already on “send in BG results as needed” instead of at a set date. I panic trying to decide “should I call these in or wait a couple of days?” And I swear, I don’t know how people without CGMs do this….I’m not being paid by Medtronic (or given any samples etc) but I can’t imagine not having the CGM and mySentry. So guess what, KC “thinks” she might want to try the Omnipod for summers and swimming….did you hear my groan?

But as L.Frank Baum wrote in The Wizard of OZ “The true courage is in facing danger when you are afraid.” So to the cowardly lion in us all…Keep Calm and Carry On!

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.”