Diabetes has all kinds of challenges, and parenting a type child adds a whole other unique set of challenges. So what are some of the biggest challenges? Here are just a few of my challenges, and how I keep them in check.
1. Knowing when to step back or let go. Dyl is now 11 and we've been living with type 1 diabetes for over 6 years. He's smart, independent, and responsible. But in spite of all that, stepping back and letting him take control from time to time is hard. Just this afternoon he asked if he could go up to his elementary school and meet a couple of buddies to play some road hockey in the school courtyard. My first instinct was to say no. It's Saturday, the school is closed, no one around, what if he had a low? What if...? What if...? But he needs these opportunities to show me, and show himself, that he CAN take responsibility for his health. Armed with his cell phone, BG meter, and a bottle of dex, I dropped him off and returned home. And yes, he did have a low. He felt it right away, treated it, and went right to playing hockey. That's my guy. A true rock-star.
2. Accepting that a number is just that. It's far too easy to get caught up in the numbers game with diabetes. BG tests, carb counts, A1cs - so many numbers to tell us how we're doing; whether we're succeeding or failing. But I need to remind myself over and over that a number is only that. Celebrate the good, evaluate the bad, then MOVE ON. The next number is a fresh start.
3. SWAG'ing. How many times have we gotten to a restaurant/party/event only to realize we left the meter at home? Too many to count. And how many times have we estimated carbs because we didn't have access to a scale or chart? A lot. SWAG'ing is a part of diabetes and frankly, we've become pretty darn good at it.
4. Focussing on other things. Sometimes it feels like our entire world revolves around diabetes, but there is more to our lives than this disease. Staying involved with extended family, participating in sports and school activities, and keeping an active lifestyle, helps us to live life to its fullest.
5. Accepting that I can't take this on myself. The single biggest challenge for the parent of a child with type 1 is not being able to take this disease away from their child. There isn't a day that goes by that I don't wish it was me instead of my son. But since I can't take it on, I arm myself with resources, I educate as best I can, and I teach Dylan how to be independent, how to take control of his disease, and how to live a long and healthy life.