A day in the life of my teenager with Type 1

   There are people who think that teenagers are hopeless,that they know everything and nothing. I work with teenagers every day and I love them. I see the struggles they have as they grow and the frustrations they have with this crazy world we live in. It’s not all doom and gloom! They have great friendships, and many a belly laugh in their days. 

I now add to that the awe I feel for my own child who has Type 1 diabetes. He does everything a normal teenager does, but in amongst that, this is what he does in an average school day, with some realistic complications thrown in.

This will be different to every other person with Type 1 diabetes as it’s not a one size fits all disease. My son does not have a pump. He might choose to have one in the future but at the moment he prefers to inject his insulin. 

Growth spurts, hormones and a busy life means levels can be crazy. I read about this all the time in blogs of other people who have children with Type 1 or who have Type 1 themselves.

I showed this daily routine to one of my best friends and she started to cry. That was not the purpose of showing her but it made me realise how amazing our teenagers with T1 are. To navigate the teenage years is hard enough but to add this in is just awe inspiring!

A Normal Day
6.30am Wake up. Clean finger. Blood glucose test. Calculate insulin required. Inject insulin. Wait 15 minutes for breakfast. Weigh breakfast cereal. Measure out milk. 

Pack hypo kit for school – check enough insulin, needles, finger wipes, poppers, shapes for the day. 

Pack lunch for school. Check that the carbs are enough to cover recess, lunch and extras for emergencies.

Morning tea – recess. Clean finger. Check blood glucose. Have morning tea.

Lunch – Clean finger. Check blood glucose. Calculate carbs. Calculate and inject insulin

Afternoon tea – Clean finger. Check blood glucose, calculate carbs, calculate and inject insulin

Dinner – Clean finger. Check blood glucose, calculate carbs, weigh and measure food, calculate and inject insulin

9.30pm – Clean finger. Check blood glucose levels, inject long acting insulin, write down all blood glucose levels for day, go to bed

In Reality

The following things can be added to the list on a regular basis:

– Wake up hungry and with a headache due to hypos / high levels the previous day. Have to wait 15 minutes after insulin for food. 

– Refuse cake/lollies being given out as prizes and treats in class as you know you cannot snack.

– Hypo at start of morning tea – have popper, wait 15 minutes. Recess ends – no morning tea? Bell has rung. Decision?

-Sport/PASS/PDHPE – just had hypo but levels have come up. Safe to play but where do you keep hypo treatment?

-Hypo at dinner time. Do Blood Glucose test – cannot have dinner yet. Treat hypo – wait 15 minutes. Retest Blood Glucose levels. If levels in range eat dinner.

– BGL high due to having cold /stress of assignments. Don’t want to ask teacher for extension. Feel a bit sick. Stay up to finish assessment tasks. Go to bed at 11pm. Retest Blood Glucose levels.

-3am – woken up for a Blood Glucose test as levels were high/low at bedtime.

He just forgot.

It was a busy evening in the House of Testosterone. Haircuts at the barbers after school. Youngest packing for school camp ( can’t believe my baby is that old but he is ready). Eldest on overnight sporting trip texting home the news of half the team, including him,getting conjunctivitis. What do they do in those scrums? Hurried afternoon tea at the barbers then home to soup and pumpkin loaf. The busy midweek classic of soup and a pudding!

Busy day at work for mum and dad, so nice to sit round the table and chat.

My middle son tests his BGL at bedtime. 25? What? Hang on, did you have your insulin at dinner? There we go! Mystery solved!

It was that easy just to forget and be like all the other boys! The smell of the soup and the freshly baked loaf, the rush to the table, the analysis of haircuts, the banter but no insulin on board. First time ever that this has happened.

No panic, no recriminations just a renewed and quiet understanding of the amazing job that insulin does.

This recipe was adapted from one on taste.com.au. The carb counting was done by me and I’m not an expert!

Flourless Chocolate Cake

Ah the wicked web we weave…..

My boys love this chocolate cake. I love it too! It’s a relatively healthy, high protein cake full of chick peas and never once in all the times I’ve served it up to friends, has anyone guessed that chick peas are the secret ingredient. I only give this recipe away if promises are made never to reveal this! You can pretty it up with a dusting of icing sugar but there’s not really any need. I love that it’s high protein! 

    

A ‘what if’ day

Most days my son goes into the world with total confidence and a good level of trust in those around him. I’ve trained myself not to worry about him and not to pester him with texts about his BGLs and what he’s eaten.

Days at work pass very quickly and I’m pretty good at focusing on the task at hand. There’s not much time for naval gazing when you are a teacher. I trust my boy to do the right thing. What worries me is the ‘what ifs?’.

These are things which come from nowhere, which are outwith my son’s control but are all part of the rich tapestry of life with Type 1 diabetes.

These days usually come after a ‘diabetes disaster’. These rock our world when they happen and our sense of confidence is shaken. It takes me weeks, if not months, to feel good about letting my son do normal teenage things after a disaster. I can see he feels the same but he still does everything.

What is a ‘diabetes diasaster’?

Firstly, we are lucky that we haven’t had many!

My son’s recent school excursion, where he had two hypos, told the teacher he was dizzy and was told to go and lie down for a bit was a near miss. A teacher telling him it was possibly just low blood pressure due to having grown so fast did not help. He so wanted to believe that this was true! What saved him, is that he had the sense to text me, telling me he was dizzy and didn’t know what to do. For him to text me anything about his diabetes was a total red flag that something was very wrong.

Since this happened, he is absolutely worried about having hypos at school. I don’t blame him. The school is coming on board with education which is a positive thing for all the students with Type 1 who go there.

I think: What if he hadn’t sent me a text? What if he’d had a fit in front of his peers? What if he’d gone back to school then got the bus home having used all his poppers? 

None of these things happened.

He thinks: What if people start seeing me as the boy with diabetes? What if I collapse in front of my mates? What if the teachers stuff up again? 

None of these things have happened. 

Diabetes does not rule our lives so when my son asked if he could go straight from school to watch his friend’s rugby final tonight, I said yes. His team didn’t make the finals which could have been awkward in the House of Testosterone when both of your brothers both made it through. He’ll get a lift home at 10pm with his friend’s dad. I’ll be standing at another rugby field cheering on number 3 son whilst my husband does the same for our 16 year old.

Diabetes does not rule our lives so of course I let him go. Accepting that I will have a ‘what if’ day is my role as his mum. I’m sure there will be many more as he goes on his way and has his adventures. The main thing is, that he has his adventures and that I keep my ‘what ifs’ to myself!

Diabetes social media burnout by proxy

 This is the deal for me. I do not have diabetes but my amazing, 14 year old, middle child does.

Do I qualify for diabetes social media burnout? Not perhaps in the way that someone who actually has diabetes would. I would never compare what I have to do with those who have diabetes.  I do not have diabetes but my baby does. He might be almost 6ft tall and a gangly teenager but he’s my baby!

I crave knowledge and connection. I love to read the stories of real people and how they live amazing, normal lives. 

I sometimes share my recipes and I recently suffered the wrath of self-named ‘diabully’ for poisoning my child with cake. This didn’t even scratch the surface of my self-esteem. I didn’t feel bullied! I must confess to only reading the first couple of lines of the blog post but there were more swear words than the average Billy Connolly joke so I exited and blocked this sad person. To balance this up I had lovely, positive comments from others who liked my recipe.

Sometimes the sad tales people share overwhelm me but I keep coming back for the witty comments and the funny quips from a community of people with whom I feel a connection. (I did finish that sentence with a preposition but I went back and tidied it up – my grammar has definitely improved).

One blog post I wrote, the boy and the egg, really seemed to resonate with people and the beautiful messages people sent me from all over the world touched me so much. I wrote that post quickly and from the heart during a really difficult time for my son. 

I may have unwittingly annoyed people with what I write. I felt a bit awkward when I started blogging and I’m still not really sure what to do with twitter. That’s OK too! I feel like I’m on a dance floor, really wanting to pump out my groovy ‘mum dance’ moves (queue moans from teenage children everywhere!) but they don’t quite match the rhythm and beat of the new tunes of a younger generation. Still, it’s fun to try!

My self-esteem and my self-belief belong in the real world with my family, my friends and my work. The DOC is my secret life, my therapy in a way, but it feels so real at times and unreal at others.

Every few days I delete the wordpress app and the twitter app and keep my feet firmly on terra firma for a bit but then my feet start to shuffle and I need to bust back onto the dance floor once more. Any one for some ‘Mashed potato’ but for goodness sake don’t tell ‘diabully’ – think of the carbs!