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July 3, 2006

Behavior, Other Social Issues

Question from Dallas, Texas, USA:

During the third week of April, my 16 year old became very sick. He was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes by our family doctor. We began seeing a diabetic counselor and I had to reduce his carbohydrate diet significantly low (45 g per meal) and monitor every meal and ensure he was checking his blood sugar six times a day. He began oral medications, but his blood sugar levels remained very high. She switched him to insulin injections (70/30 Humulin) and his blood sugar levels became dangerously low. I scheduled an appointment with an endocrinologist and she switched his medication a third time and diagnosed him with type 1 in the honeymoon phase. My son also has a heart murmur, needs braces and wisdom teeth pulled. All the physicians needed to communicate about medication and so forth. I've had three or four appointments a week while working a sales-related job and worked at night to recover the lost time during the day. I ended up canceling the teeth until we could get the diabetes under control and acclimate to the drastic change. I was running ragged going to work a few hours and then leaving to pick my son up for his appointments. I was even more stressed when he went on insulin and his blood sugar was dropping to 40s mg/dl 2.2 to 2.7 mmol/L]. I talked to my supervisor and let him know I thought I needed to take a few months so I could get through the initial diagnosis and lifestyle change. They didn't want me to quit so they allowed me to work from home. However, I was expected to produce more than any other employee in the office. I ended up getting fired after three weeks of this arrangement. During this time, I closed two deals and was at my quota. The final week before my termination, I had heard from co-workers that my supervisor was complaining about me. They felt that he was blaming me for his lack of performance when I was doing all the work and performing. Of course, I was not there and was home working, as well as monitoring my son and helping him cope with his diabetes. I told my CEO up front that it would be about a month for me to get him regulated and normalize his schedule. I was never written up and was performing. The day after I was fired, my honor student, Student Council President son, was arrested for shoplifting. He appeared to have accepted diabetes well, but only a mother knows their child and I could tell he is in denial. He is lashing out for help and part of the reason I felt I needed to be home for him. I'm not seeking legal advise as I'm engaging an attorney. I'm writing this to ask you if other parents have experienced this. I'm a single parent with no family around me. All my son has is me. This is so overwhelming and new to us. Now, I'm faced with large medical bills and being fired for what I believe to be for the reason that my company didn't want to deal with an employee who was going to have a lot of medical appointments for their child. So, I'm just wondering if I'm in the twilight zone or has any other parent faced this?


It sounds like you have gone through so much since your child was diagnosed with diabetes. It can be extremely overwhelming when a child is diagnosed with diabetes and it sounds like you had the added challenges of being a single parent, losing your job, and your son being caught shoplifting. I can definitely tell you that every family deals with their own challenges after their child is diagnosed, but most parents usually have the same general concerns/complaints that other people do not know how hard it is to take care of a child with diabetes unless you already have a child with diabetes. You may find it helpful to reach out to other parents who understand what you are going through via the Internet or going to a support group.

There are Chat Rooms and Forums on this web site and we at the Joslin Diabetes Center also have Internet Discussion Boards. You may want to contact the local JDRF chapter (the Greater Dallas Chapter) or the local ADA chapter in your area. I also think it would be good to ask other people for help. You said you don’t have family in the area, but do you have close friends that could help you with either diabetes tasks or non-diabetes related tasks? I would also encourage you to tell your child’s health care team about all of your challenges and maybe they can help in some way.