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June 11, 2002

Daily Care

Question from South Carolina, USA:

I am 16 years old. My 11 year old sister has had diabetes since she was four, and, of course, with a disease like this, there is some spoiling that comes along with the parents babying her, but I do not complain. However, since she has been getting older, I have been seeing more and more things I don't want to ignore. She started off taking shots, and now she has a insulin pump. She used to prick her finger three times a day, and now she has a GlucoWatch. However, the biggest problem I see is that she eats a lot, is becoming very overweight, and my parents seem like they don't want to notice this. I notice it because I know she is going to have problems with being overweight when she is older, and I know that being obese and had having diabetes are not going to help her health.. She doesn't listen to my parents, and they feel guilty if they don't let her eat something. So, they eventually give up and do let her eat it.I say even if it is fat free, it doesn't mean its going to be good for her or help her lose weight. I know it is hard on them, but it seems she has learned to make my parents give in. Since she can manipulate them, she has become very spoiled. My friends and other sister notice this, but my parents refuse to listen. Their only reply is "Well she doesn't have it easy", but with the pump and watch, she has it easier then others with diabetes I go to school with who can't afford the pump or watch. I need to have a doctor write a letter to me so I can show my parents. I want my sister to grow up normally, but the obesity and the spoiling aren't helping.


Your sister is very lucky to have you, even if she does not realize it right now. You are in a very difficult situation. No one likes seeing people they love make choices that can lead them to harm. You’ve already done a great deal for her by talking with her directly, and by talking to your parents. Unfortunately, there is not very much more you can do. The more you focus on her eating, the more she might become angry with you, and perhaps the more she will eat.

Perhaps you can try to find another way to go about helping her. For example, perhaps you can get her involved in some fun physical activities. Perhaps your parents would be willing to support this, since people with diabetes always do better if they are physically active. The fact that she may lose weight in the process would be a bonus, but not the focus of the activity.

Good luck in your efforts to care for your sister. No matter what, support and love her. She’ll need you later when she’s ready to take charge of her body.


[Editor’s comment: Perhaps, you can approach your sister and parents with the idea of going to her next diabetes team visit. You can use the excuse that you’d like to learn more. If they go for it, maybe you could persuade your sister to visit to visit with the dietitian. Tell her that you’d like to learn more about healthy eating and go on a meal plan with her.