Losing Control of Diabetes
So the month of November in the Diabetes community is known as Diabetes Awareness Month. It’s been fun, participating in the daily posts about different aspects of life with Diabetes - or for me, parenting a diabetic child. Each day was filled with posts about our favorite accessories to spread awareness and bring just a little cheer to this horrible disease, photos of our supply bags and all the carefully made lists we send with our children to camps, school, etc. But I got stumped on one day and quite honestly, I haven’t been able to get past it. That day and henceforth, I have not posted in regards to the #happydiabeticchallenge that was sponsored by @the.insulin.type on Instagram.
What was it, you ask? What could have possibly stopped me in my tracks when I was on such a marathon of posts this November? The post about motivation. I saw a hundred posts with amped up descriptions of beating Diabetes, leading a healthy lifestyle, keeping in range for an upcoming marriage or other happy nuptial. But for me… I’m a T1 mom… what do you mean motivation?! My tiny son is the biggest motivation I’ll ever need… how could that ever change?
And that’s what stopped me in my tracks. The thoughts surrounding that last statement floating in my head like scenes from a horror movie. What happens… when I’m not the one “controlling” (because, let’s be honest, who really even “controls” their type 1 diabetes?!) Carter’s blood sugar? What happens when it’s not someone who looks a life and death situation in the face every single day, sometimes multiple times a day, and charges on because she just loves that little human so, so much?! And really, I’m not talking about when Carter eventually goes to preschool and makes his ranks through the school system. I know there will be teachers and administrators and school nurses to contend with regarding Carter’s care - that’s a whole different ball game. What I really mean, though, is when Carter is in control of Carter’s own blood sugar and life as a diabetic.
I can get up several times a night, groggy and barely conscious, and still fight myself awake to remember what I’m doing and why i’m doing it. It’s ingrained in me; it’s part of who I am now. I can leave a cardio class at the gym halfway through to treat a low in the kids club room because I know what’s at stake if I don’t. I can pick up kids from school but stop in the parking lot to test sugar and ketones because I know what can happen if I don’t stay on top of the situation. It’s putting diabetes, and Carter, over literally every single thing and every single person in my life. So my terror is when Carter manages his own diabetes. What if he doesn’t feel that same immense motivation to keep himself healthy and in control as best he can?!
I see posts on Facebook and Instagram about 10-year-olds… let’s let that sink in… TEN year olds who have gotten so depressed with their disease that they’ve attempted suicide via overdosing on insulin. I’ve read about teenagers with similar stories who have actually succeeded in their suicide attempts due to frustration with managing their diabetes. Teens that rebel and think they own the world and their diabetes - they decide to binge drink without dosing insulin or go without insulin altogether to “show diabetes up”. Grown little girls who passed away overnight next to their spouse because their sugar went too low. IT. SCARES. THE. HELL. OUT. OF. ME.
I know my motivation now to kick Diabetes’ ass. A sweet 18 month old little boy who calls me “mum” and gives the most adorable hugs and kisses you’ve ever seen. But what happens when sweet little Carter wants to be more independent and to control his own sugar? Will he be easily motivated, wanting to make sure he stays in a good range so he always feels his best? Will he do it so that he can play sports with minimal interruption from diabetes? Will he keep himself well so he can keep dating a girl he really likes? What if he feels as though he has NO motivators to keep his sugar in range? What if one night he’s just too tired to treat the low that’s just getting lower? What if he rolls over, snoozes the alarm and thinks he’ll just deal with the high in a few hours, after a bit more sleep?
Right now I’m going to push these agonizing thoughts aside. I’m going to continue to be as OCD as always about Carter’s blood sugar and do the absolute best I can to find his correct doses and keep him at least closer to his goal range. As he grows up, we’ll teach him everything we know about his Diabetes. We will teach him to check his own sugar and eventually even dose his own insulin pump. More importantly though, we will explain WHY we do what we do, when we do it. Why it’s important to know his sugar before a meal, why it’s important to time dosing to when he’s going to eat. Why we wake him up in the middle of the night to drink a juice box or eat a few gummy snacks.
I will never lose control of Carter’s diabetes and I can just hope and pray that he doesn’t, either. I’m hoping that with the “take charge” attitude I have and the lessons we teach Carter will stick in his head as he grows older and begins to manage his own blood sugar levels. I’m hoping that with a proper support system and openness to talk about this disease that Carter takes the ropes and thrives as best he can.