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Tag Archives: Teens with Type 1

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!

 

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!

 

#HAWMC Day 24 Wordless Wednesday

wego day 24

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#HAWMC Day 22 The Top Ten Things Type 1’s Can’t Live Without

Starting with the most important–

1. Insulin (I know, obviously…but sadly too true!)

2. Continuous Glucose Sensor (okay I’ll throw the insulin pump in with this as they are integrated) and the mySentry (Medtronic’s remote monitor for caregivers)

3. Internet–for connecting to the DOC, looking up carb count/food allergens

4. Juicy Juice–those little boxes come in mighty handy treating nighttime lows

5. calculator–when I am trying to calculate a correction for a high in the middle of the night

6. Bayer ContourNext Link meter….takes much less blood than the OneTouch Ultra Link used + it lights up so I can use it at night without a flashlight!

7. The Bayer Contour 2 “pricker” aka lancing device….this has been KC’s pricker of choice…we covet them!

8. storage/organizers: everything has a place and everything in it’s place where D-supplies are concerned

9. KC’s Spi-belt that she wears for PE and sports…keeps that pump out of the way and safe.

10. String cheese–KC’s fave “free”snack.

#HAWMC Day 21 Adversity

“The flower that blooms in adversity is the rarest and most beautiful of all.” – Mulan

Today’s challenge is whether we believe that the quote from Mulan above, is true or false.  My initial reaction was to consider my son and daughter, both of whom face adversity because of their food allergy and Type 1 diabetes, respectively.  But I also began to wonder which flowers bloom the best under adverse conditions.  So I did a quick google search and came up with the Crown of Thorns…..and I thought….wow, here it is a Sunday morning and the symbolism of “crown of thorns’ is even more impactful for its association with Jesus Christ.  And I just finished watching a Rick Steves’ program about Edinburgh that described the St. Giles Cathedral with its ornate spire designed to look like the crown of thorns.  Another example of Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon, which occurs when a person, after having learned some (usually obscure) fact, word, phrase, or other item for the first time, encounters that item again, perhaps several times, shortly after having learned it.  I was just telling another T1 parent about this phenomenon the other day, as an explanation for why we seem to learn of so many other Type 1 diabetics after our own child’s diagnosis.  And I just remembered that my son watched Mulan in 2 classes this week–weird, huh?

So here I am in this surreal loop this morning….and am reminded of when I taught a class on archetypes and symbolism to high school students.  They fought against the concept of symbolism:  “Mrs. C, can’t a tree just be a tree?  How do you know it means anything else?”  And my response would be that if the tree were merely mentioned in passing, then yes, it was just a tree.  But if the writer drew your attention to that tree over and over again, then the tree was symbolic and therefore, had greater meaning.  Today, the “crown of thorns”  appears to have meaning for me.

And yes, I truly believe that survival against adversity makes one more beautiful…makes the victories that much sweeter….

crown of thorns

Have a blessed Sunday!

#HAWMC Day 20 Burnout

One of the biggest issues caregivers face is burnout: a state of exhaustion which can be mental or physical. Many of us are in the throes of burnout and don’t even think about it. We are so used to the exhaustion that we take it for the “new normal.” Helpguide.org reports that you may be on the road to burnout if:
“Every day is a bad day.
Caring about your work or home life seems like a total waste of energy.
You’re exhausted all the time.
The majority of your day is spent on tasks you find either mind-numbingly dull or overwhelming.
You feel like nothing you do makes a difference or is appreciated.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       The negative effects of burnout spill over into every area of life – including your home and social life. Burnout can also cause long-term changes to your body that make you vulnerable to illnesses like colds and flu.”

Parents of children with Type 1 diabetes are extremely susceptible to burnout due to sleep deprivation and constant worry.  While T1 is a disease that can be successfully managed, parents of CWD feel great pressure to keep their kids safe, to get achieve good blood glucose numbers, to have tight control over the disease.  And we parents often put our own needs on the back burner.  Our relationships with our spouses/partners can suffer and also our relationships with our other children.  But what are we to do?  The reality is that Type 1 is a 24/7 disesase and depending on the age of the child with T1, the parent’s job is also 24/7.

According to Helpguide.org, we need to remember the 3R’s:

  • Recognize – Watch for the warning signs of burnout
  • Reverse – Undo the damage by managing stress and seeking support
  • Resilience – Build your resilience to stress by taking care of your physical and emotional health

I admit that I am exhausted most days.  I try to go back to bed after my T1 goes to school so I can get at least a couple hours more sleep…but that disrupts my day and prevents me from accomplishing as much as I would like.  But I think a rested mom is better than a spic and span house.  I try to schedule one big chore per day to spread out the tasks–but life often gets in the way.  I also try to do things I enjoy–crafts, reading etc. when I can.

My husband and I try to carve out small units of time together.  It may be a simple as driving together to get gas and leaving our son to watch over his T1 sister or we just sit on the porch, drink in hand, and talk for 15 minutes.

My non-D son and I are trying to play Scrabble together a few times a week so that he get positive attention from me.  One thing we have always done occurs when one child is out with friends–we take the other child out for time alone with both parents.

And my greatest anti-burnout tool has been the DOC.  Some days, I probably spend too much time interacting on-line with other D-mamas, but it is cheaper than therapy!  I do not know what I would do without the friendships and connections I have made in the DOC.