One diabetes dad readies himself for the change.
By Tom Karlya
August 2006 — College; how could it be here already?
As Jill, Kaitlyn, and I search through schools for September '09 acceptance, I know that Kaitlyn looks at the campus visits as any senior in high school would – as the opening of a whole new world. In as much as we understand the importance of Kaitlyn's world expanding into college life, the question we keep asking is, "Does it need to happen at a minimum distance of three hours away from home?" Our reactions are textbook: Kaitlyn wants to experience life to the fullest, her mom and dad want her to experience life to the fullest as well, but can't it be done our way? This thought process is like water and oil. Of course we have to let go. Of course we want her to go out there and grab life's gusto.
But as we seek and question higher education institutions, that wonderful song from the Broadway smash hit of yesteryear Fiddler on the Roof keeps popping up in my head, "Where is the little girl I carried……" Hard for me to accept the fact that Kaitlyn is grown up. The more I keep trying to say "but … but…" makes me realize that it's more than just Kaitlyn growing up, like any other kid.
It's the reality that sooner, rather than later, Kaitlyn will have to tend to her diabetes all by herself. Don't misunderstand - we know that she is more than able - but in the parent's eyes, the guidance powerhouse in Kaitlyn's day-to-day managing of her diabetes has always been her mom. Although I can jump in if needed, and surely Kaitlyn is more than dependable, it has always been Jill who has made sure Kaitlyn was diligent in her management. It's Jill who knows the roadmap of every breath Kaitlyn takes and it is Jill who knows the absolute latest in technology. From the daily shots Kaitlyn used to endure before she went on the pump, to the food that she ate, and to the insurance company that got rattled when Jill called to fight with them, it has been Jill front and center. It scares me to no end that Jill's caregiving will not be as present in Kaitlyn's life if she goes away to school. How will things be when Jill is not there reminding her of the so many aspects important to her daily regime?
Like so many kids who have diabetes, Kaitlyn is famous for rolling her eyes when her parent has something to say regarding her disease. Like any other kid with diabetes who has heard the drill a thousand times from their parents, you see her nodding her head and know perfectly well that deep down inside she is saying, "I know already." But soon that will all give way to her actually being on her own. All of the discussions between mom and daughter meant that at the very least there was a discussion about diabetes. Now Kaitlyn has to live by her own singular voice. Did she hear the guidance all her life? Did she absorb how important it all is? Does she get what will happen if she doesn't? Is she ready?
Of course the real answer is not about Kaitlyn being ready; it's about us being ready. Kaitlyn is more than capable of handling herself. In a recent trip to Lehigh University (Kaitlyn loved Lehigh University by the way, but she also loved Stony Brook University – on Long Island), our tour guide was also an EMT on campus. We grabbed a bite to eat and I asked him what it was like to be an EMT on call. He stated that it was interesting but they did not receive a huge amount of calls. His last call, he informed us, was many days ago. It was a student with diabetes who had a hypoglycemic episode. The color ran out of Jill's face.
Where is the little girl I carried….. I'm a diabetes dad.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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