I’m gaining diabetes chops

I feel weird being “proud” of being good at diabetes. I mean, I’m not super proud to have it in the family–I’m not ashamed, either, it’s just a thing for me to deal with,like gray hair–but it’s a special combination of being both a monotonous, frustrating grind and super scary.

It’s been a while since I’ve reflected on all of this in writing, so I thought I’d try to make a list of the things that I’ve learned or am trying to do.

  • Bad sugar is not (always) his fault. I come from a family that expects kids to take responsibility for themselves and my first instinct is to be angry at bad sugar. That’s not super helpful and it’s not always his fault. I don’t always estimate sugar correctly, and I would be the kind of person who forgot a shot when sweets are passed around at school. Being angry doesn’t help. At worst, it probably makes him not want to talk about his sugar.
  • I try to connect his blood sugar to immediate things. This is hard for me because he’s an eleven year-old boy and not super aware of his feelings, anyway. Asking him to sense if he feels different with his sugar high or low–when it’s not an emergency–hasn’t been super helpful. However, I do point out that he had a rough day–and that’s the kind of thing he knows–and I say his sugar was high all day. If I’m doing this correctly, I’m not rubbing his nose in it, but just saying “one of the strategies you have to avoid bad days is managing your sugar.”
  • I try to avoid telling him to take shots. Partly, this is because I want him to learn to get shots on his own. What I’ve been doing for the last weeks is noticing that his sugar is high and saying “hey, this is a great time to do a workout video.” I try to not make it a punishment, but instead to say “then you won’t have to eat any carbs to do a video later, and we want to stay active during the lockdown.” My goal is not to present the workout as a punishment, but to have him notice that my feeling a need to jump into his sugar management is less fun than him managing it himself. (And, to be fair, I also run and do the videos that I ask the kids to do, and he would be doing videos anyway.)
  • I’m getting older and wiser. This doesn’t really belong on the list. I don’t do anything, but I’m gaining experience. I can give a shot before going to bed and don’t feel the need to set an alarm to make sure it wasn’t too much. I understand diabetes–at least, his diabetes–enough to take an active role in the “why didn’t his sugar do what we expected?” conversations, and that makes me feel more competent as a dad.

Christmas is a rough time to have diabetes and, to a lesser extent, rough for the people trying to set up a nice Christmas without sending the kids on a diabetes roller coaster.

But, winding the year down, I feel better about my role in the whole thing.

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