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June 27, 2007

Behavior

Question from Columbus, Ohio, USA:

My young teen daughter lies constantly about her blood glucose levels and skips shots even after I ask her if she has given herself her shot. No one in my family has diabetes and none of her close friends has anyone in their family with diabetes. I understand that she is frustrated, but I am worried to death that she is contributing to her ultimate demise, especially since I see it everyday at work because I am an RN. I foresee the future for her if she does not become an active partner in her care. I am a single parent and I work full time. I have taken over her shots and carbohydrate counted for her for a month. I sent her to a counselor, but nothing is working. I am at wit's end. There are over 3.1 million people with this disease. Is there anything I can do besides cry, get upset and any other things that I have already done? I will fly anywhere, do anything to save her life!

Answer:

Diabetes is, indeed, an exhausting disease to live with. Both you and your daughter are suffering from the demands of this never-ending disease. Puberty probably contributes to the frustration you both are feeling, as even when she does everything “right,” her numbers probably do not reflect her effort. In addition, most teens with diabetes begin to feel emotionally burned out by the burden of the disease and it sounds like you are feeling the same way. I applaud you for taking over responsibility for all blood sugar checks and injections. Please continue to do so, as nothing will improve if she is physically not feeling well because her blood sugars are in poor control. Please also go to a mental health practitioner with your daughter. The two of you are not working together right now to manage diabetes, instead, you are frustrated and angry with each other. Contact your local ADA, your pediatric endocrinologist and your pediatrician for recommendations regarding mental health practitioners with expertise in working with families of teens with chronic illnesses.

JWB

[Editor’s comment: You may also wish to consider sending your daughter to the Cumberland Hospital for Children & Adolescents in New Kent, Virginia.

BH]