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November 9, 1999

Behavior

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Question from Anchorage, Alaska, USA:

I’m a scared mother of a 15-year old boy. He refuses to check his blood and only occasionally gives himself his insulin. He went to see a counselor once and refuses to go back. He was diagnosed a year ago. What can I do to help this situation?

Answer:

From: DTeam Staff

The situation you describe for your son is very dangerous. While it is difficult to give you very specific advice, I would encourage you to discuss this directly with your son’s diabetes doctor to make sure that he or she is aware of the situation. Sometimes it is necessary for parents to completely assume care of teenagers who rebel against life-saving medications and having diabetes certainly fits this category. It would also be important to know if he has Type�1 or Type�2 diabetes, how high his glucose levels run, what is his hemoglobin A1c level, etc. If he is dangerously out of control with omitted insulin then he may need to be hospitalized to regain control.

SB
Additional comments from Dr. Robertson:

Sadly, I come across this situation daily. Let me try to reassure you that many 15 year olds rebel like this and usually it is short lived. He presumably takes enough insulin to stop himself from becoming ill. I think that you have to continue to gently persuade without nagging and try to get him to talk about how he feels rather than just about testing. One route that may help is to ask your doctor if he has any other patients with diabetes around the same age that may talk to your son. Often hearing the same message from someone in the same boat helps.

KJR