Friday, July 1, 2016

 Written by Angeline M Duran Santiago

We all want our children to love us. The words, "I hate you!" and just not the love language we wake up each day looking forward to hearing. I want to hear things that puff me up inside like, "You're the best mom!" "I love you!" and "Yes." The truth is, for many parents like myself, with now a teen who is living day to day with Type 1 Diabetes, the responses are not always the ones "I" want to hear. So, if you're a parent with a child who has a daily chronic condition, be prepared for some reality. I hope that at some point in your life, (maybe not, and I truly hope so) you will get the kind of response that screams, "I hate you!" but just grow some thick skin and do it anyway.

1- Did you check your blood glucose before eating?
I know that my son looks at me sometimes like, "Really, mom? Not again!" I know he gets tired of the questions. The fact is that even though he will say it got done, when we go to the doctor's visits, the proof is in the paperwork. Numbers don't lie. Your child may want to be left alone and tell you that they're going to prove they are responsible. I don't want you to think I am that kind of parent that exasperates her child and doesn't let them breathe. Honestly, I give my son freedom to do a lot on his own. I don't want to ever be that parent that hears, "I hate you!" or "Leave me alone." but, it happens when we want to make sure the medication is being taken on time and correctly. My experience is that at the end of the day, even if the blood sugar was checked, many times it doesn't get entered correctly or on time, which takes me to point number 2.

2- Did you enter your blood glucose and carbs into the pump? Or, did you cover yourself correctly?

"Yes." A hundred times the response is "yes". Fact is if the sugar levels are just not going down, most likely your child has been very busy with their extremely busy teenage life and demands and he or she forgot (oops, did I say that?) yes, forgot to put in those numbers that help the pump come up with the correct dosage of insulin needed to cover the meal your child is about to have and/or supply the needed dose of insulin to keep your child's sugar level where it needs to be. Listen, your child may get upset you asked again but you can go to sleep confidently and know your child's body has been taken care of because you loved enough to ask.

3- Do you have everything you need with you?

Most likely, I am the only parent in the world that goes through this, so forgive me for sharing. Maybe you have never and will never go through that moment where you're in the car, maybe running a few minutes late for school and work, everyone gets in and just as you get a few minutes into your commute, in the back of the car someone says, "I left my pump home." or "I forgot my blood glucose kit." or "Oh, shit, my insulin and my lunch stood on the kitchen table!" My worst perhaps has been when I was half way to work and while I am getting on the bus my son would text me from the train station to tell me he was feeling sick and had left what he needed home.

This is why I am going to say it over and over again. Yes, even if he gets upset. I will keep asking and checking. Your child will say, "Yes!" to everything in the rush to get to their football game or their activity after school. Your child will think they've packed correctly before heading out to the beach or the party with their friends. Your child will swear they have taken everything in their bag and I'm telling you, most of the time- something is missing. So, even if they hate you for that never ending question, ask it again and again. Not because you want to be a nag or a pain in the nalgas, but because you love your child and want their physical life to be filled with strength, health and great joy!
4-The famous text or phone call

Some parents just plain want to know where their kids are. I know where my child is and I don't think that has ever been my issue. I set limits and boundaries and give my kids the trust so that they make good choices in regards to friends and places they visit. Since they've been big enough to understand, I've talked to them about being careful with the places they go and what they do because they belong to a heavenly Father who loves them and wants the best for them. I engrave in my children that they are to live their lives to honor God and live by those guidelines in Scripture. 

So, why the text or the phone call? I know that my son has needed the reminder when he's been a game or a sleepover. I know that he can get wrapped up in football or fun with his friends and he may not want to take out his glucose kit to check his sugar in front of his friends. Your child may not want anyone to see them with their pump on when going inside the swimming pool and they take it off. So, it's up to us to remind them that the pump has to stay on and if they take it off, to do so carefully. They need to follow their doctor's instructions on how to pause the insulin pump temporarily. 

5- Create a To-Do List

This one is short and simple. Organize what has to get done, especially for going to school set up. If your child knows what to pack, what to put away, and what to do, maybe, just maybe, your morning will be a lot easier and your child's day will not be stressful. Sometimes, kids forget. Being a teenager doesn't mean they get wiser overnight. Even adult forget. So, if this "to do list" is just for you and me as a parent, let's make sure it's available for everyone in the home.

6- Everyone needs to know

This one is not up for discussion. Everyone in your home needs to know what to do in case of an emergency if the blood glucose drops to really low or sky rockets to extremely high. I don't need panic around me, I need problem solvers who know what to do. Believe it or not, little children can learn what to do. My kids knew what to do if their younger brother had highs or lows, or at least I can say, they knew the emergency protocol of checking sugar, getting juice or something sweet, getting water, giving insulin, call 911, call mom, etc. Close family and friends, and especially teachers and coaches need to be very aware of any chronic condition your child has. They need to know the warning signs of low blood sugar or high blood sugar. They need to know why your child needs a water break or a moment to check their blood glucose after exercising. 

Communication is so important. Your child may say, "Oh, you're embarrassing me by telling everyone!" So, be a parent that will take each step with wisdom and prayer. Don't blurt it all out in front of nosy parents and neighbors. Be discreet and be selective with who you speak. Choose the right time and place. I like to write things out and add some information printed out with my contact details for teachers and coaches. Teach your child that they need to share somethings with at least that special friend they spend most of their time with. Your child may be out riding their bicycle or running and suddenly feel sick. If their friend is not aware of the signs for low or high blood sugar, that friend may not know to get help or what to "ASK" or "Tell" your child to check. They need to know about reaching out to you or an adult for help. Honestly, my son used to really hate when I asked him, "Does your friend know you have Type 1 Diabetes- just in case of an emergency?" It was until there was such an emergency during football camp last year that I think he understood the importance of sharing our lives with people in our lives. So, sorry to repeat this again, but everyone that should know, needs to know.

Okay, okay, so maybe your child is not going to hate you, just get angry sometimes. I've been afraid many times to keep talking to my son because he just looked upset. Truth is, he's just as overwhelmed and tired as I am. Still, if I'm going to really help my son create healthy habits and routines that will help him succeed as he matures and continues through his teen years and into adulthood, I have to keep being that person in his life that will always ask what's going on and what hasn't been done in his life in regards to his daily care. Type 1 Diabetes is not easy. There are good days and really sucky days. Sometimes everything is going fine and other times, well, I just feel like the bad guy. But, we have to stick to our guns like they say and make sure our kids have reminders that don't show us out to be nagging parents, but just loving and concerned enough that at the end of the day we still get what I love to get most from my son, that beautiful smile and his amazing hugs.
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