Our First Type 1 Teen Trauma

So this week it finally happened. Our first Type 1 Teen Trauma. Technically he’s 12 so not a Teen yet but Jack started secondary school in September and our lives have changed seemingly overnight. Being an active member in the support groups for parents of Type 1 Children on Facebook, I knew it was only a matter of time before we ran into teenage problems surrounding the intensive day to day care that is required in managing this demanding condition.

Jack was diagnosed 2 years ago, when he was safely in a primary school environment. He has pretty much been the model child with taking care of himself in that time. Religiously do his checks independently and giving insulin through his pump each lunch time.
Unfortunately he has always experienced some embarrassment about being Type 1. Only confident to test and bolus in front of close friends and family.  Let’s face it no teen or tween likes to be different and Type 1 is just so darn difficult to deal with at a time when all kids want to do is blend in.
This embarrassment is what led to our first Type 1 teen trauma on Monday. I picked him up from school and asked him to do a scan with his Freestyle Libre, straight away, the screen just read LO. On the Libre LO is a Hypo below 2.2. A quick glance at the screen whilst digging around for a pot of glucose tablets revealed he’d been low for sometime. “What number were you at lunch?” I asked. “Oh I didn’t bother doing a check” he replies oh so casually.  Further inspection of the graph shows he’d been low 1 hour before lunch at 12pm, it was now nearly 4pm and. I was horrified and mortified and all the other words that end with ied.
Sheer fear means I jump in with both feet. I may not have shouted but how I approached it must have felt like an attack. Of course I tell him he has to check before Lunch as a minimum. Of course I tell him he can’t give insulin without knowing what number he is. How does he respond? “Well in that case I just won’t eat lunch”. WHAT THE HELL!!
At this point it’s quite obvious we aren’t getting anywhere. So I do what a million Type 1 Mums have done before. I bite down HARD on my tongue. Clearly we both need to calm down.
When we arrive home I do what I usually do when Type 1 throws a challenge down. I head to the reliable Type 1 Parents group on Facebook for a rant and advice.  Advice floods in from parents more experienced than I with dealing with Type 1 Teens. I feel better just for getting it off my chest…though it’s a sad thought to think that Jack doesn’t have an independent outlet for his frustrations. The general consensus from those that have lived through these tough years is I need to remain calm and not antagonize the situation, I needed to keep the lines of communication open.
Knowing Jack as I do, I should have known better than to just fly off the handle, he’s a defensive type and doesn’t respond well in those situations. He’s my son, we’re close, I know him well. It dawns on me that he understands emotions far more than anger. he doesn’t like to upset people.
So after dinner, I choose my moment carefully, when he isn’t mid conversation on Skype or messing about with his friends on X Box. I use my calmest voice and say something along the lines of “Jack you scared me today, you could have killed yourself, I really need you to be checking your levels at school”. He wants to know how he could have killed himself so I explained about Insulin Overdose. He seems to take it on board and agrees to check the next day.
Of course all through the next day I’m desperately wondering if he followed through with it, or if he was just fobbing me off. I was delighted to get in from work to find out he had checked.

So it seems on this occasion that calm communication worked. I’m not naive, I know there will be more Teen Traumas to come but I have a game plan now. I’ve learnt a lesson. It might not work next time but my Facebook pals will be there handing out the advice when we have to cross that bridge. I’ll always be grateful.  If you are struggling with a Type 1 Teen and need support, here are some links to Facebook Support groups that I recommend.

Children With Diabetes

Parents Of Children with Type 1 Diabetes

Parents of Type 1 Teens.

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