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June 2, 1999

Daily Care

Question from Madison, Wisconsin, USA:

My 17 year old daughter was diagnosed with diabetes about two months ago, after a final class project in Advanced Biology at High School revealed she had ketones in her urine. A subsequent trip to the doctor revealed not only ketones; but, a blood sugar level of 454. Her HA1c showed a score of 15, which means she has been at 454 for at least three months. While thinking back she showed some of the signs, drinking water, nightly visits to the bathroom, it's sometimes hard to know with a teenager. The doctor first started her on orals and now has put her on insulin. She is currently at 18N/8R and 10N/6R for insulin. Today they added 5R pre-lunch. Her blood sugars have been in the 200s during the morning and seem to steadily increase by the end of the day into the 400s. They have told her it is okay to exercise; but, that seems to also increase her levels. As a parent I am getting somewhat concerned that her levels are not coming down and what the long term effects may be. I know it takes time; but, she is starting to show signs of frustration because she is having stomach aches and headaches also.

Answer:

Your daughter has only had diabetes for two months. It takes longer than that to adjust to the diagnosis, medication regimen, diet and exercise program. Give yourself some time to get used to diabetes.

You have lots to learn as a family. Try to be patient. It will take some time to get proper dose adjustments to keep blood sugars in the target range. Even then, there will be unexpected highs and lows. Work with your diabetes care team. Meet with the team psychologist. Find some peer support for your daughter and yourself.

Above all, don’t give up. You too, will learn to run diabetes and not let it run you.

HVS