A Mother’s Angst about her T1D Teen Daughter

The transition of children to self-management is often rocky as they struggle with becoming adults; sometimes tough love is the only way

Kathleen and Jed have two children. Jeniya was diagnosed with T1D at age eleven and 18 months later Treshawn was diagnosed at age seventeen.

Treshawn was a successful high school athlete when diagnosed.  He had a hard time, was in denial and not managing his numbers, and faced the prospect of not playing basketball in college due to out of control glucose.  Within months, however, he was taking full responsibility for his own T1D care. Today, he is a point guard for the varsity team at William Woods University.

This is a story about Kathleen’s relationship with Jeniya.

Kathleen & Jeniya

Kathleen managed Jeniya’s care for years and while she was in elementary and middle school her diabetes was in good control.  Things changed when she entered high school, grade 10 in Arkansas. There were more kids, more stress, fewer conversations with Mom and less care for her diabetes. 

“When I ask her why she is not taking her insulin she says ‘it makes her look puffy’”

Kathleen is the family disciplinarian.  

Jed says I should take a chill-pill or I will drive myself crazy. He is concerned but he is a ‘6’ whereas I am a ‘10’.  I won’t let my guard down. I am more hands-on. I have to be a drill sergeant every day, every single minute of every day.  God wired me as a mom to be this way.

I wish Jeniya loved basketball as much as Treshawn does.  Unfortunately, she is not passionate about basketball. She could not go to team camp this summer because her numbers were too high.  During the Thanksgiving tournament, her numbers were so high that we spent Black Friday night in the emergency room while they gave her several injections to get her glucose down to a normal range.  

Since then she has kept her numbers in the 118 to 140 range, which is good.  But its because the school nurse and her coaches make her text me a photo of her CGM display during school and before practice.  She will be busy with basketball throughout the holiday season and basketball continues into late March so her extra support will continue until then.

Becoming an Adult

Jeniya turns 18 in May.  At which point the State of Arkansas says I can’t manage her healthcare since she is a legal adult.  

Today, I would say that Jeniya is NOT on the cusp of taking responsibility for herself as long as she is living at home.  I take responsibility for her care when she is at home so she doesn’t think she needs to care for herself.

I do have confidence that she will grow up a lot after high school.  In the Fall, she plans to live on campus at a college nearby. She has shown the ability to self-manage when on her own.  She stayed at a Christian camp in Destin Florida for a week when she was a sophomore and did very well.

Tough Love

The punch line for me is that no matter what we feel is needed for our teens…. they have to deal with this illness of T1D. Each parent needs to let our teenagers steer their own wheel in life and to learn how to control and navigate their own health in life.”

Martin is the Founder of SelfRx Media and editor-in-chief of Insulin Nation. He's a passionate about sharing knowledge with those affected by Diabetes.

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