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January 27, 2000

Behavior

Question from Florida, USA:

I have read the published questions, are there are many similar ones, but I am desperate. My daughter is 16 years old. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 8. Four years ago, she started taking extra insulin and eating inappropriately. She spent the next two years in counseling. Then she started taking huge doses of Regular insulin (up to 100 units). She was in insulin shock 3-4 times per week. She was admitted to the Diabetes Unit in the local Children's Mental Health facility. After 6 months, they sent her home because they "didn't know what else to do for her". While she was there, she had individual counseling 3 times per week, family counseling once per week, and group therapy once per week. She started abusing insulin at home again, so I locked it up, but she learned to pick the lock. She ran away from home about 10 months ago -- went to live with her father. After 6 months with him and two hospitalizations for DKA, she came back to live with me (mom). For the first month, everything was great, but her physician wanted her back in counseling so she is going again. However, she is now injecting at least 20-30 extra units of Regular insulin again. She eats whatever she wants and in the last 30 days has gained 7 pounds. She has infections on the skin of her ears, face, and legs. Her doctor is concerned, gave her antibiotics, but wants me not to get involved. The doctor said that she needs to learn to do this herself. However, I cannot sit back and watch her kill herself. I am so desperate. She has been in therapy for years, hospitalized with DKA's (she stopped shots with dad to lose the 45 pounds she gained the year before), hospitalized in the children's mental health unit. I don't know what else I can do. Please, if you have any suggestions, I am in need of help!

Answer:

You are correct to worry about your daughter. She is engaging in extremely dangerous behaviors that could easily kill her, and it appears that she knows this. The only way that you can get your daughter the help she needs is if you and her father are willing to engage in intensive (2-3 times per week) family psychotherapy with your daughter. Her only hope is for the two adults in her life to come together to help her.

JWB