January 1, 2000
Question from Liverpool, England:
I am nearly 16, and have had diabetes for nearly 6 years now. I am very into having lots of pen-pals and one of my pen-pals in Canada has invited me to stay with her next summer. She doesn’t have diabetes, but her friend does. I asked my mum, but she said no because of the time difference (the cost) and that the time difference would mess up my diabetes. I’m sure if I talked to my nurse and figured out what to do, I would be fine. I really want to go, but I feel my mum is using my diabetes against me! I don’t think she can handle the fact that I will be so far away, she even cried when I went away for the week to Cumbria, the summer just gone!
It sounds as if your parents are really worried about your health and safety when you are not nearby. Try to sit down with them (preferably when they are not in a rush and when they’re in a good mood) and ask them how much they worry about you. Also ask them what they worry about, and if they really think bad things will happen to you. You may be surprised by their answers. Once they are able to talk to you about their worries, you may be able to begin to negotiate more time away from them. For example, they may need to see you succeed at an overnight at a friend’s house before they’ll feel comfortable with you going away for two days, and then even longer.Talk with them about your plans to insure your safety and health — this may also lessen their worries about you.
Additional comments from Dr. Quick:
You can look at previous answers about how to handle time zone changes, and then set up plans on how to handle a trip overseas with your diabetes doctor and your family.
Additional comments from Dr. Tessa G. Lebinger
Although it is possible that your mom is afraid to let you be on your own because of your diabetes, it is also possible that she does not feel that spending the summer with a “pen pal” across the ocean is appropriate for a 16 year old girl with or without diabetes. You don’t say how you met this pen-pal, or how well you really know her. You do mention the cost of the trip. (The parents of many 16 years olds would like them to spend the summer earning money rather than spending it!) It sounds like your mom did let you spend a week away from home last year. Your mom may have cried, but she did let you do it? How did that go?
I think you and your family have to work out all the issues here and try to separate those related to diabetes and those unrelated to diabetes.