Just the other day, Kaitlyn turned to me and said, “I wish I didn’t have diabetes.” Immediately my heart started to crumble into a thousand pieces. Up until then, I had rarely seen her express her sadness about type 1 diabetes. She’s never really had a diabetes “freak-out” moment like so many other kids. Sure, she hasn’t always loved all the pokes and pricks, but other than the first couple of months after her diagnosis, she’s dealt with it just fine. In fact, it’s been a source of self-esteem at times when she’s learned to take on some of the responsibility of her care or when she’s been able to prove how brave she is with everything she has to go through.
That being said, I guess it was a bit of a shock when she said the words that every parent of a child with diabetes dreads, but knows they’ll one day hear: “I wish I didn’t have diabetes.” Even though I was crying on the inside, I knew what I had to do — I absolutely had to stay positive. I told her, “Sometimes I wish you didn’t have diabetes too, but it’s going to be just fine.” We started to list all the reasons why having diabetes isn’t so bad. We talked it through for a little while, and I think we both came away from the conversation feeling a little better.
Later, I started to wonder about what might have happened to cause her sudden change of attitude. I realized that I had been putting a lot of pressure on her to do more and more of her diabetes maintenance. She’s been checking her blood sugar herself (with my supervision) almost all of the time, and she’s been doing some of the button-pushing on her pump too. Before, I’d been doing most of the work — getting her kit, checking her blood sugar, dosing for meals, etc. — but now that I know she’s capable of doing more, I’ve been eager to hand over more of the work. When it’s time for a check, I tell her to go find her kit and do the checking herself. I think she’s starting to feel like it’s a big hassle, and she’s getting a bit burned out.
I think I’ve been a little bit too quick to pass on so much to her. I’m going to keep letting her do most of her testing and continue to learn more about dosing on the pump, but I’m going to do what I can to help lessen her burden, especially when she’s giving cues that maintenance is getting to be a little too much. Maybe I’ll find her kit and hand it to her, or if she seems like she might be low, I’ll go ahead and do the testing. I have to ease her into this life of maintenance rather than throw it at her all at once. I know burnout is a natural part of having diabetes, and doctors and diabetes educators may have some tips and tricks we can try as well. Hopefully, we can set a course that will help Kaitlyn avoid an attitude of not wanting to do diabetes maintenance at all!
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.