Leaving Home (Continued)
So you're finally on your own! Now you can set your own schedule every day and – at least until your parents get your grades – you have only yourself to answer to. Have fun. This is an incredibly exciting time in your life, but it can also be harmful to your diabetes if you are not careful. Be smart, particularly with socializing and partying. We're not encouraging you to drink or do drugs, but if you make that choice you need to know how to handle it when it comes to your diabetes.
Learn how drugs and alcohol affect your blood sugars and know what to do if you're feeling sick or hung over the day after. Be honest with yourself – being under the influence of drugs and alcohol can affect your ability to think clearly. Be careful about how that might affect your diabetes control. Talk to your friends ahead of time about how they might be able to cover your back if you get too silly. And don't be afraid to ask for help if you get into a fix. No one's expecting you to be perfect. You learn by making mistakes. Just don't make them more costly than they have to be by being too proud to admit you're in trouble and you need a hand.
For The Parents
As we mentioned before, your child's leaving home is an exciting, anxiety-producing, sad, happy, frightening time. It's only natural to want to make sure that everything goes right and that nothing horrible happens. This is when you need to let go most and trust the process. You and your family have worked hard to get to this moment. There have been years of lessons, teaching, discipline, sermons, and encouragement that led up to this moment. As much as you can, enjoy the moment and be proud.
You don't want to be too intrusive but you still have a right to insist on a certain amount of reporting back to you and responsible behavior regarding diabetes management on the part of your child. Set it up so that you get some kind of feedback and report every so often at set times and dates so that you don't have to nag or being intrusive all the time. Remember, there's a lot more to leaving home than just managing diabetes. Don't let diabetes color the whole process.
Help your college student to make the appointment with the local doctor. Make sure they keep the appointment no matter what – don't let them let it slide. Insist that they have adequate supplies and food to take care of their diabetes responsibly. Ask your child what kind of help they need and tell them your expectations for how they are to handle their health care needs.
Also, don't be afraid to ask for help. Identify resources that you trust such as your physician and diabetes healthcare team members. Keep channels of communication open and frank. The first semester may be the most difficult for you but after negotiating letting go, you'll be able to do anything! And if you can, enjoy the extra time and energy available to you and your family with one less person in the house. I can guarantee you that your child is having fun – why shouldn't you as well!
The recommendations provided here are meant to help you let go and send your child into the next phase of their life in the big, outside world. Set it up so that you feel comfortable enough not to have to worry all the time. Some things should be non-negotiable. The more you have a plan that you've all agreed upon as being reasonable, the more you can let go. While your child is moving out and may look like an adult, s/he still needs your help in providing some structure for the launching. And if you're the one leaving home, May The Force Be With You! And know that you don't have to do it alone.
NOTE: The information is not intended to be a replacement or substitute for consultation with a qualified medical professional or for professional medical advice related to diabetes or another medical condition. Please contact your physician or medical professional with any questions and concerns about your medical condition.
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Years before I was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, The Other Half came out of a doctor's appointment with a diagnosis of "borderline diabetes" and an ADA exchange diet sheet. His health insurance agency followed up on the diagnosis with a glucometer and test strips. After a year or so of trying to follow the diet plan and test his glucose levels, things appeared to be back in "normal" range, and stood there until a couple of years after my own diagnosis. Shortly...