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July 23, 2009

Behavior, Daily Care

Question from Ft. Worth, Texas, USA:

Twice recently, my son has decided to treat a day as a non-diabetic day. What he does is not take insulin for food he is eating. The two times he has done this have times when he is out at an event. I have tried talking to him about this, but it seems to fall on deaf ears. I suggested he could either not eat (or not eat carbohydrates) or pretend he is not diabetic for about 10 minutes and then do the right thing. Do you have any advise on how to deal with this? I am afraid he will continue doing this and I really want him to stop. I will mention it to his doctor, but our next appointment is not for another month.

Answer:

It would be so nice to take a vacation from diabetes! Your son’s desire to take breaks from his daily diabetes regimen is normal and expected. The issue is how one can handle those days when you really need a vacation from the daily demands of life with diabetes. So, first, I’d encourage you to tell your son that his desires/wishes are normal and should be expected. Then, invite him to share with you how life with diabetes is going from his perspective – what’s okay, what’s not so great, and what’s awful. Don’t comment as he talks – just listen. When he’s done, ask him what things you could be doing to help him, and also what things you’re doing now that he does not see as particularly helpful. Then, talk about these issues (with safety being the priority). Finally, ask him if he would be willing to plan diabetes vacation days during a day when there are adults around who can actually do the diabetes-specific tasks (give insulin, check blood sugars, count carbohydrates) so that they get done for him even though he’s not doing it on his own. He may even need a vacation week, which is fine as long as someone is doing the necessary tasks. Often times, teens need that kind of break from doing the tasks on their own, and it gives them the energy to take the responsibility back.

JWB