Saturday, February 25, 2012

Raising Tweens and Teens with Type 1 Diabetes

Something that I haven't tackled on this blog was the advancing age of my oldest daughter. 

While that may make her sound as those she is entering her twilight years, in reality, she is entering her tween to teen years.  For the first time since babyhood, every single part of her body is experiencing rapid growth and her insulin needs have increased almost weekly for the past year.  We often ask her jokingly, if she is drinking her insulin.

Last week, oldest daughter asked to attend a field trip with the rest of the class.  And like the majority of her classmates, she asked if I could stay home and not chaperon. 

My first reaction was one of understanding and sympathy.  I can clearly remember my feelings of wanting independence at the same age.  Of course, she wanted to be on her own with her friends and without mom.  It is a universal request at some point... otherwise if she didn't, we might one day be harboring a 40 year-old recluse in our basement. 

My second gut reaction, was to wonder how in the world we could make it happen.  Unlike my own mother who could simply drop me off and drive away, I needed a plan that included appropriate blood sugar checks, text messages with blood glucose numbers, how to handle snack foods and to ensure that she would dose her insulin properly and the ultimate worry.... what would happen if she went so low that she couldn't do anything.

That is a lot of responsibility for any adult and even more for a child.

So why did I go through that?  Why not just go on the field trip and watch her carefully myself despite her protests?

Kids first, diabetes second.

One day, this little girl is going to grow up.  If I keep swooping in at every uncomfortable turn in the road, then she will never learn the way to become fully independent.  Type 1 diabetes will not always be "mine" to manage and over the next 7 years, we will need to go through these situations to build her up for the ultimate test of independence; college.

After multiple discussions between the two of us, our plan included oldest daughter to test her blood glucose before leaving school, to carry a brand new purse of her liking with her cell phone (so that she wasn't embarrassed by carrying supplies), candy, a blood glucose meter, (her teacher carried a blood glucose meter, glucose tabs and glucagon as well),  to check her blood sugar approximately halfway through the field trip and to text me with her numbers as well as anything she might be eating so that we could look at the carbohydrate counts together.

It was a tall order but we both felt confident that she could handle it.  I also explained that by carefully following our directions, that she was opening the door a little bit more to new independent opportunities that might arise.  In reverse, by not following our plan, she was also closing the door.

She seemed really excited by that idea.  Her personal goal is to one day walk around our mall with a group of girlfriends.  Apparently, our babysitter did that and oldest daughter is thrilled to think that could be a possibility!

I also planned a shopping trip that put me right down the road from where she was for the two hours she attended her field trip.  We both felt comforted that if something did go terribly wrong, then I could be there in just a few minutes. 

And it worked beautifully.  Oldest daughter went on her field trip and enjoyed the company of her friends without mom hanging around.  She giggled and laughed later that night in telling me about her escapades. 

Which made us both feel so happy and proud that we didn't let type 1 diabetes stop her. 

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