This time of year is all about looking ahead. My eldest boy has finished school and has commenced a physically demanding, full time job for his gap year. My youngest son is approaching his 14th birthday and is still a total, joyful delight having not yet entered the ‘tunnel of puberty’. Things with these two sons feel quite settled.
My middle boy who has Type 1 diabetes will turn 18 at the end of this year. Is that the age of maturity? Time alone will tell but I am a realistic optimist by nature!
By the end of this year he will have had ( I had to get an example of the future perfect tense in here somewhere!) Type 1 diabetes for five years. It has accompanied him through puberty, sending him on a BGL roller coaster for a couple of years. He has grown from a spindly legged little whippet into a into a slim, 6′ 5″, mini moustache sporting giant.
This year is all about the next stage in getting ready for independence as he will most likely leave home to study in 2020. We struck a deal before Christmas that we would give him the independence he craves so much if he showed us that he would take over certain aspects of his diabetes care.
The biggest two areas were: following the insulin doses for each meal and writing down his blood glucose levels three times a week. I know from experience this year that if these two things are in place then everything else generally seems to flow nicely . Writing down those levels is a right royal pain in the bum, and it’s something I have largely done over the last four years. It doesn’t bother me but it’s not related to anything in my body and being one step removed from what those numbers mean must make it easier, I’m sure. We do need those levels though, as through all the changes related to growing, exams, stress and sport, we need them to work out changes in insulin doses.
My boy is absolutely and with total certainty against using a pump or a CGM. I would have loved for him to try these forms of technology, especially the CGM, as I think he’d be surprised at how it could help him, but it’s not my gig. I used to dream about how these devices would help, but at the start of 2018, I’ve decided to let that all go. So much of what I read online relates to pumps and CGMs. As a parent of a child who does not want these things, I cannot help but feel excluded from many of the discussions. I feel like I know a fair bit about both but I will need to take a step back from all that, stop putting subtle (okay, sometimes not so subtle) pressure on my boy and allow him to take the lead. He has shown the tiniest spark of interest in the FreeStyle Libre since he heard that it can be used for insulin dosing. I am saying nothing and waiting for him to make any decisions for himself.
This means that when he goes out he takes our absolute trust and full control of his diabetes management with him. Easy eh? How about mixing that in with parties with alcohol, sleepovers at friends’ houses, and days like today where he is off with friends to the nearest city to watch a big cricket game.
As parents of a young person with diabetes, you find yourself doing hitherto unimaginable things like teaching your child to drink alcohol. We have had a few awkward and funny afternoons and evenings handing over beers to our son and watching the impact on his levels. It seems to have worked and he has gone out had quite a few beers, stayed away all night and come home in one piece with levels which were pretty good the next day.
Do you know what’s so brilliant about all of this? He is having fun! He is not focused on his diabetes but is accepting that it’s an unavoidable part of his life and he is dealing with it!
Thinking back to when he was diagnosed over four years ago, I never thought this time would come , yet here we are! I look back to those feelings when he was first diagnosed. I wrote this poem when I could not imagine the future we are in now! I feel incredibly lucky that we have been supported by an amazing Diabetes Educator who has encouraged my son to do whatever he wanted to do and who, from the very beginning, suggested we fit diabetes into our lives and not the other way around. There will be challenges ahead but it is an an incredible feeling to start 2018 feeling like there is hope for a full and happy future!