Diabetes Checkup Butterflies

Q. I always have butterflies ahead of my son’s check-up, and wonder if other parents feel as nervous?

A. Well, our three months are up and we’re due back at the diabetes clinic. Finding out your kids’ HbA1c results and how well controlled their sugars have been can be really nerve-wracking – I always feel I’m about to be judged on how good a parent I’ve been. I beat myself up, thinking that I should have done more, got the kids to test more, recorded more results, watched more closely what they were eating and scrutinised more carefully how they were programming their pumps. More, more, more, more!

It’s a huge mental challenge looking after a child with diabetes, without the added challenge of guilt. Guilt, I feel, is something that just goes with the territory – no matter how involved or well-organised you are. As parents with the responsibility of overseeing and supporting our kids to be their diabetic best, there are times when we’re too hard on ourselves. Instead of feeling we’ve failed because our child’s BGLs are out of whack or we miss signs of an approaching hypo, we need to remind ourselves of our daily successes. So seek out a close friend or family member who really knows what it takes to look after your child, ask them if you’re doing a good job and you can be pretty sure their honest response will be, ‘Most definitely!’

When we’re being harsh on ourselves, we should take a step back and ask ourselves if it’s the kids with the condition… or us. Diabetes is unpredictable, and so is life. We don’t live in a perfect world and there will be times when we’re thrown a curved ball that we just couldn’t have anticipated – when your kid has a hypo away at school camp, overdoes it on the sports field or overdoses on chocolate cake at a party.

This can, understandably, raise your stress levels, but your reaction can make your child anxious, too, upsetting their blood sugars even more. As parents, we need to get out of our heads and stop worrying about the negatives, accept the hand we’ve been dealt and move forward. Kids pick up a lot from watching our behaviour so, if you have a positive outlook, they’ll know no other way.

Don’t feel judged on your child’s HbA1c – doctors and educators know how hard it can be to manage diabetes and are there to help. If there’s room for improvement, look to the future and choose one thing you can change in the next three months. The other day, my 20-year-old, Sam, came home from the clinic with the news that he could reduce his HbA1c by 0.2 per cent with just one more test a day.

The most important thing in my life is having happy, positive children – even if it takes a little bribery to keep them on track. But although I’ve promised mine a monetary reward if they can get their HbA1c in the sixes, unfortunately I haven’t had to pay up yet!


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