Hello, I am back! I’m going to write a little from my own personal experience. Of course your son may view things very differently than me so I’m not offended if this is ignored. Also I’m not saying that my experience is the same as all T1 teens experiences (to each their own!)
So I think something we can all agree on - life as a teen kinda sucks as is. There are just a lot of things going on socailly, physically and mentally and those years with mounting pressure for excellence across the board in school, sports, extracurricular. And then diabetes on top of it is just a lot a lot going on.
I was diagnosed when I was 6 and had a lot of support from my school at the time. When I got to high school, I took on more responsibility and didn’t want help from parents or the nurse. Pretty much, I wanted to make friends on my own and cut ties with diabetes so I could feel normal and independent. (I feel this is pretty typical of most teenagers to just want to fit in. I also believe most teenagers want to explore boundaries of risky behaviors (say drinking or in this case - not optimally managing diabetes). And, most teens feel invincible like some others were saying above. Reality was very much in the moment and I wanted to have that experience as a teenager, like a normal teenager).
Of course with hormones and technology not so great then, my blood sugar was really inconsistent. HOWEVER, I didn’t really know anyone else with diabetes, and I felt like I was doing alright with it with nothing to compare my numbers to (my A1c was in the high 7s, 8s, 9s).
Being in high school, I wouldn’t necessarily say I was defiant against either of my parents. The only thing that really sent my adolescent rage on fire was when they would pester me about diabetes. And I would really rage. Like kind of spiraling manic anger against them, the world, any greater spirit for making me have diabetes. It seemed pretty unfair at the time.
When my mom would ask if I tested my blood sugar in the morning, I would spit back at her asking if she brushed her teeth. I knew what I was supposed to do, and my mom asking about it only made me feel annoyed that I had to do it in the first place. But significantly, it also made me feel guilty that I wasn’t amazing at taking care of myself (knowing that it was scary, disappointing, and saddening to her). I knew what I was supposed to do, but in my gut just did not want to do it at all. Kinda like waking up in the morning to workout and every cell in your body is screaming and groaning at you not to do it.
I knew testing my blood sugar and giving myself insulin would help prevent long term consequences. I imagine that your son similarly has this understanding. For me, I knew this as a reality but it almost felt imaginary that I one day would be that adult that could have to deal with the consequences. So then, I didn’t really care that much that I wasn’t taking care of myself. I could manage my daily life pretty fine without paying too much attention to diabetes. So even if my mom was poking at me to test my blood sugar and even if she willed and wished, I felt grown up enough to manage it (and whatever fantasy consequences) on my own.
While I was in college, I was pretty illequipped with taking care of myself, but my mom did stop playing the hover game with me. It certainly didn’t perfect my management but it take a lot of tension off my shoulders because I didn’t have to daily shoulder the burden of thinking about disappointing her. I know from the beginning she only wanted the best for me and didn’t want to stand idly by as I ignored my disease out of seemingly laziness. I’ve actually talked about this with her, and it makes me tear up thinking of how amazing she was with handling my disease when I was a child and how she had the strength to see me grow into my own with this disease, knowing I was messing up as I was going along. She told me all she wanted to do was shake me and make me realize that little efforts should save me in the long run.
But diabetes is tricky. Her wishing and willing wouldn’t cure my blood sugar swings. It really took a mental, emotional, physical journey to get me to pay attention to and work at controlling my blood sugar more. I won’t go into all of that, but I’ve been thinking about some things that I think would have helped me as a teen (helped me psychologically handling the idea of T1 and also just help me have better blood sugar control overall). (again this is just my own experience, this may not be helpful at all for your son!)
I wish diabetes wasn’t this thing in my mind that made me feel different. Something that has helped me recently with that is 1. this community at FUD! 2. following a bunch of T1 accounts on instagram (that I’m assuming your son is already on?) (suggestions: type1.emilyjo, thediabeticcactus, thediabeticjourney, everyday_t1d, diawareness) 3. local meetups with other T1diabetics in the area. All have helped me feel less alone, given me education and ideas on management, and also have given me a sense of pride in being a diabetic. Also, personally I’m pretty competitive and once I saw others absolutely crushing it with their management, I wanted to challenge myself to do that too.
I wish I had had a goal(s) out of diabetes management when I was a teen. It felt pretty aimless, and to be honest, long term consequences don’t matter much when you’re dealing with day to day drama and high school. I think @Eric mentioned it above of asking what motivates your son. I think this could be a great jumping-off point with your son on creating intrinsic motivation for managing numbers or just remembering to respond to alarms from his phone. For me, I think in highschool if I identified that I should better manage my blood sugar so that I could study for the SAT more effectively or play field hockey without as many diabetes breaks, then I think I would’ve been slightly more inclined to try to manage my sugars.
Earlier in high school, I wish I had had someone who was older who wasn’t my parent whom I could confide in about life in general and also diabetes. I found that in a teacher my senior year, and they helped me sort with troubling feelings and my lack of cares. It was just nice to have someone who had perspective but also was just there to listen and hear me try to sort through things.
I wish I had had a conversation with my endo/parents about what college and being on my own with diabetes looked like. This obviously is a later topic for you guys if you were thinking about it.
I wish I had the space to have a conversation with my mom about balancing the responsibility between us and how I would want to communicate with her about my diabetes and what respect we wanted from each other. Of course it was hard because, ya know, raging hormones, but I think I really would have responded well to that actually. Just like an establishing expectations periodically.
Well, now I’ve completely written wildly too much, and I’m sure that this is minimally helpful at this point. But anyways, if your son wants someone to talk to (about diabetes, parents, college, pursuing medicine, really anything), I’m here! Sorry for the long post!!!