Between Two Extremes
Finding the balance in diabetes management.
Editor's Note: While this columnist is no longer writing for dLife.com and we have ceased to update the information contained herein, there is much to be read here that is still applicable to the lives of people with diabetes. If you wish to act on anything you learn here, be sure to consult your doctor first. Please enjoy the column!
March 2010 — What cost is too high for good control over your child's diabetes? Don't we all know a family or two who has become so consumed with having their child's diabetes under strict control that they lose sight of the price that they, and especially their child, are paying for it? We are probably guilty of a little bit of the opposite problem, not being strict enough in hopes that we are giving our son a better quality of life. Hopefully he doesn't feel like the disease completely controls him, although I am not sure that is possible. But what about the family who doesn't allow many carbs or sweets, and creates an even bigger issue with food for their child than the one that is inherent to diabetes itself? How controlled by diabetes does that child end up feeling? And what chance does he or she have to learn to successfully manage the disease without feeling that so many things are completely off limits to them and others are out of their control? And what about having a "normal" life? Even if their diabetes ends up being well controlled, isn't their entire life being controlled as well? Is the mental price they will pay for that really worth it?
Our family seems to always be struggling to find the balance between those two extremes. And we seem to continually come in contact with people who are at one extreme or the other, but surprisingly few who seem to attempt to live somewhere in the middle. We seem to encounter a lot of parents who deprive their child of most of the things he/she wants to eat. With such strict limitations, aren't those parents asking for rebellion or even worse, an eating disorder when the child eventually is on their own to make those decisions? Is it healthy to have their child's diet micromanaged up until they leave for college? We have always felt that if things are allowed within reason, those foods don't become forbidden and we will avoid Joel hiding food, sneaking it, lying about eating it, etc. And we hope that eventually he will be able to make those choices easily on his own without anyone guiding him.
I feel like I spend a lot of time telling myself that we are doing the best we can while Joel learns to live with this terrible disease. Not only is there no book to tell you how to do it, even if there were, who would be able to say it is what approach is right for your child? It seems that no matter what choices you make, something has to give. At the end of each day, I just hope that I haven't given in too much on either Joel's independence and ability to live normally, OR his good health and future without diabetes-related health complications .
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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Many people say that depression is a side effect or complication of diabetes. Without discounting the association of the psychological condition with the physical one, I'm not convinced that our high and/or unstable glucose levels are directly responsible for that change in our mental state. My belief is that the unrelenting need for self-care, for following the sort of care schedules that can drive licensed, professional caregivers crazy, is what overwhelms us...