On Friday I made my first trip to school because TJ's pump site fell out. Luckily for us, the timing was perfect because he ate his lunch while we made the switch and he didn't miss a minute of recess! First pump obstacle overcome with little drama. I was thinking about this today as I walked through the office at the school where I teach and there was a girl and her mom changing her pump set. I have met this family before at diabetes functions. We both commented on how reassuring it is to see someone else going through a routine that is only "normal" to us. It was also reassuring to know that the struggles we are experiencing with our teen daughters are not unusual. In her case, her daughter had gotten to school and then called her and said, "What happens when I run out of insulin in my pump and there is no insulin in my spare bottle?" Similar things have happened to us. As the parent, sometimes I want to be annoyed at the lack of responsibility but at the same time I have tremendous guilt that I hadn't checked that out so we could make the change at home!
We all know, being a teenager is hard. Developmentally, their brains have trouble keeping things straight and throw in homework, chores and a social life and things are in constant motion. Now, throw in Diabetes! Ugh! They want to be like everyone else. How can you be like everyone else if you have to stick your finger and program an insulin pump every time you eat? And how can you remember that when deciding what to do after school or checking out who has the coolest outfit on is so much more important at that moment? That is the biggest struggle we have right now. I know that both girls know that taking care of themselves is important. They are both active, they know how to count their carbohydrates, they eat healthy for the most party, they do an excellent job of taking care of their little brother, they know what to do. But, do they always do it? I just uploaded pump info last night and the answer to that question was a resounding NO! One part of me wants to yell at them- do you not know what can happen to you? Instead, I am trying to take a deep breath and try to find something they are doing right. We have used incentives, taken things away, schedules and for a time, they work. But ultimately, we have to get them to be motivated to do these things without reminders. As I said to a colleague, I want my kids to learn responsibility and logical consequences but when it's their life and their long term health- it is really hard to find a balance. So, as the mom my emotions are always in turmoil. I know I can't do too much or they won't learn on their own. I know I can't do too little or they won't take care of themselves. How do we find a balance? Our diabetes educator is really good at finding one thing each time that they can work on. It is far less overwhelming and much more realistic for them. And she always points out something positive they are doing which at times is not an easy task! It is a normal teenage "stage" for those with diabetes. And, with hormones all over the map, blood sugars will also be up and down. Obviously, we would all love to have perfect control but she has told me and them that it isn't very realistic right now. But, we can work on habits and making them good ones. Checking blood sugar before meals, bolusing for all food, staying active and making healthy meal choices. Those last 2, I am still working on personally so I guess there has to be a little give! When I watch them take care of their brother, I know they know what to do and for the most part, they are incredibly responsible about everything- not just diabetes care. I just have to have faith that they will find a routine that works for them so they can take care of themselves just as carefully. That doesn't mean I don't nag them about set changes or ask them to text me blood sugars or double check that they bolused if I am with them when they eat. I can't help it- that's who I am! I just hope they realize when I am nagging and have that annoyed sound in my voice that it isn't them I am annoyed with- it is this nasty disease! I really wish I could just take it away, being a teenager is hard enough!