In the Diabetes Trenches: Diabetes Dad

I have a friend; let’s call her K. K has a son, let’s call him Z. I have known K for a very long time, and she was an incredible actress. I thought nothing could ever surpass her talent, but it did, it was K’s incredible and wonderful heart. She is an incredible mom, and her family has become her life. It’s not surprising in the least.

Recently K shared a story about her son who was on a football team. Z decided that playing football was not for him. Despite the uniform, the money laid out, and the time invested, once Z stated and meant that he wanted out; K allowed him to get out. She applauded her son for letting her know how he felt, and she backed his decision. Z no longer plays football.

Now to some this may seem like a very easy choice. But I also know parents who kept their child involved in things that the child hated. Their thought process is: “I need to teach them that they cannot quit something once they commit.” However; this is a very fine line to walk, and the discussion relates directly to our diabetes world.

Laying out money for an insulin pump or a CGM is a big investment in both time and money. At what point are we doing what is best for our child and at what point are we torturing our child? Now it’s understood that our children may HATE checking blood sugar and taking insulin and, of course, we cannot ever stop that process. But when it comes to the devices that our children wear, when is the decision a must; and when is it a cooperative decision with our children?

A tough line to draw in the sand, yes?

Okay. So the decision has been made. You are approved, and you receive the device, your child wears it and tries it. And after a given time…THEY ABSOLUTELY HATE IT. Hate it!

What do you do?

In actuality, I’m not asking THAT question. That’s for you to conclude in your house. My point is for those who come to the decision to remove the device and try managing without it. It’s crucial that when that decision is made that neither you or your child are ever made to feel as though you failed, or even worse, that your child failed. I’m a huge fan of both the insulin pump and the CGM. But it’s easy to be a fan when I do not have to wear either/both 24/7.

My dear late friend Dr. Richard Rubin’s voice is very loud and clear in my head in these instances. “It’s about choices.” Discuss the choices ahead for you and your child. If they are absolutely against it, forcing them could have an adverse impact for a long time. Be careful. I’m not going to attempt to give you a formula for what works and what doesn’t work in these instances because it’s just so different with each person/family. I am going to say that people lived very long lives without, and before, the addition of these incredible tools.

Not using one, or going on one and going off one, is not the sign of failing and do not let anyone tell you otherwise. How you handle this situation will set the framework for the possibility of using a device in the future. All people (even our kids) can change their mind. Allowing them do so, is a very important part of their management. The only non-negotiable (outside of checking and taking insulin of course) was the wearing of their ‘alert’ bracelet or necklace.

Everything else became a choice.

For the most part we came to a mutual decision and even when Kaitlyn was pretty young, it went that way as well. Easy? Nope. So the takeaway here is defining what a failure IS NOT. It’s not about deciding against something. Just as K’s son, Z, made the choice that football was not for him. Not a life and death decision, but how K let this play out was very important and a lesson to be learned.

Failure is staying in something that is just wrong. How you define that is up to you and your child. Think about it.

I am a diabetes dad.

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