Whenever I bump into someone I haven’t seen in a while, we tend to start chatting about life and family. The questions are always the same: What are you guys up to? How’s the job? How’s your family? We talk about kids and what’s happening in their lives — school, sports, church, vacations, etc. Then, I get the question: How’s Kaitlyn doing with her type 1 diabetes?

“Fine,” I say, “she’s doing great.” Then the follow-up question: Is she well-adjusted? “Yeah. She’s doing just great. Thanks,” I always reply. I love that these people are genuinely concerned and want to know about Kaitlyn and my family, but every time I get this question, I think to myself…well-adjusted? What does that even mean? Is that even possible?

I get it. These people are wondering if Kaitlyn’s disease is under control and whether or not she’s handling it well, but that’s such a relative term to me. Are we handling this disease? Yes, we’re handling it. Is her blood sugar always in range? Definitely not. Could we be handling it better? Probably.

So what does well-adjusted really mean? What is the goal? How do we measure our success in “handling” diabetes? I think this means something different for everyone. Perhaps there are those who constantly battle high blood sugars for extended periods of time and who always seem to end up in the hospital with ketoacidosis. A great measure of success for them might be going for a few months without being admitted to the hospital. Perhaps there are those who have had several high A1c scores and are trying to bring those averages down to get a lower score. A great measure of success for them might be to get within the range the doctor is asking for. For others, a great goal might be to avoid extreme hypoglycemic episodes.

Someone else might be on the other end of the spectrum like my social media group friend. She and her son have such tight control over his numbers that they almost never go out of range. It’s a ton of work, but they insist that not only is he in range before meals, but below target. This way, his meal spikes never go out of range. Their “acceptable range” is gradually getting smaller and smaller: This is their measure of being well-adjusted. We’re definitely not there yet.

We’ve decided that for us, well-adjusted means being in a healthy state but trying to improve. It means having a good relationship with diabetes and a positive perspective. It means being willing to do our best. It means teaching Kaitlyn the skills to be more and more independent. It means making goals and working toward them. It means being able to take correction and advice from doctors and friends. It means seeking out tools that can help us manage diabetes better. It means Kaitlyn being healthy enough to enjoy anything that she wants to do.

And we are. And she can.

So, the next time a friend or acquaintance asks me, “How is Kaitlyn doing with her diabetes?” I will confidently answer the way I always have: “She’s doing great! Thanks!”

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.

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