The Diabetes-Free Day
Like most parents of kids with diabetes, I worry about burnout. Well, I worry about a lot of things! But today, let’s talk about burnout. My son is ten, he’s never been shy about his diabetes and he likes to be independent and take care of himself, at least when I’m not around. Why do all kids become incompetent at EVERYTHING when their mother is in the room?
My friends who’ve been through the teen years talk about burnout and warn me about expecting him to do too much at a young age. We help a lot at home with site changes and BG checks when he wants. At the same time, I think he’d be insulted if I told him he couldn’t or shouldn’t take care of himself at school or a when he’s away from home.
A good example: Benny goes to “regular” sleepaway camp for almost a month each summer. It’s not a diabetes camp, but they have a great medical staff. We all spend a lot of time each year working to make sure Benny can have a safe and fun time away. It’s almost four weeks where he does every blood sugar check, every pump inset and CGM sensor change, fills the cartridges, etc. He loves this camp and he thinks it’s been worth all the work to go the past three years (his older sister is there too).
When Benny came home this year, I had a funny idea. He’d done an amazing job (objective opinion!), with only had a couple of bad lows and highs; overall he’d kept his blood sugar in a really good range. But I knew it was a lot of work and a lot of brain power. So I made him an offer, “How about a diabetes-free day?” I asked.
The next day, Benny didn’t have to think about diabetes once. We did all the BG checks, all the carb counts, everything. I wouldn’t even tell him the numbers. It was fun, easy and he loved it. After taking care of himself by himself (with supervision) for almost a month, I could tell he really enjoyed this kind of pampering. It reminded me of how it was back when he was first diagnosed, at 23 months, before he could do anything. And it was a reminder of how far we’ve come.
The next morning, it was back to normal. We told Benny he could ask for another “free day” whenever he wanted. So much of diabetes is mental. I can’t imagine the brain power, energy and attitude it takes to manage type 1 every day and I have great respect for the adults who do it. Right now, we make a good team. I want Benny to know that kind of help is always there.
Do you think he’d come home for a “free day” when he’s 30?