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Help Needed: Former Rebel Diabetics

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I have recently begun interacting with a female, Type 1, pumper who has just started college. It is her first time away from home and away from a very difficult mother.

Basically, here is the story: she has been at school for 2 weeks and has told several people (including myself) that she has tested 3 times in the entire 2 weeks. I have caught her twice without her pump on. Her excuse was that she was low, but at the times she was far away from her room so it would be a while before she would be able to re-connect. Of course, she has been guessing at her meal boluses. The three tests she did do were all in the 300s. It is quite likely she has been floating around the 300s for the entire two weeks.

She told me that she doesn’t know what her problem is, that she doesn’t know why she can’t seem to do what she knows she needs to do.

I have given her a little advice, but I don’t know what it is like to be in her shoes. I wasn’t diagnosed until the end of college, and for that I am almost thankful. I don’t know what it is to be in a new place, trying to fit, make friends, and just be like everyone else. So far her new ‘friends’ have been pretty good to her, but how long can you deal with someone who’s emotions are all over the place on the blood sugar rollercoaster?

I don’t know what it is like to be an 18 year old diabetic. But I do not what it is like to wear something 24 hours a day, 7 days a week that reminds you that something is wrong with you, and let’s face it – will probably always be wrong with you. Wearing something that reminds you that every relationship you have will be different because of it, that every dream you have for the future – dreams 18 year olds spend endless time talking about in their dorm rooms at night – will be different. Constantly answering questions. Dealing with people’s foolish assumptions. Being flat-out tired of being diabetic.

So, my questions are: Were you a rebel diabetic? How can I best help this girl? Did anyone say anything to you that made a difference? Is it a phase?

Thoughts, feelings, stories, advice, resources, links, prayers, and support greatly appreciated!


7 responses

  1. I was a rebel diabetic. I have no ideal what would have gotten me to snap out of it in college. The only thing that came close was when a good friend once gave up all sugar to get me to pay more attention to what I was eating at the time too. Got my blood sugars down and felt great until another group of friends lured me back the other way. I’ll try to think of something more concrete than that and if you want to email me you can.

  2. I was diagnosed at age 9 and definitely became increasingly rebellious from the start of high school through college. I can’t even fathom this today, but there were actually times when I would *go on vacation* without a blood glucose meter. Somehow, my A1c never rose above 7, which was actually a bad thing because it allowed me to “get away” with not taking care of myself. (The 7 was more a result of lots of swings, I’m sure.) My basal rates were also unusually high because they were factoring in the fact that I wasn’t testing or bolusing properly during the day. (I can’t believe I ever did that!)

    What finally did it for me was my pump malfunctioning for no apparent reason and having to return to shots, coupled with increasing hypglycemic unawareness. Going back on shots, even for only a month, quickly jolted me into testing many, many times per day, and I’ve stuck with that ever since.

    I think the key for me was actually not wanting to make my diabetes public. Even my roommates had never seen me test or change an infusion set– it annoyed me when I met other diabetics who seemed like they could talk about nothing BUT their condition, when I wanted to focus on the rest of my life. My temporary return to shots made it really hard to hard, especially because I was living with friends at the time, and I was actually surprised by how much I opened up about it and how interested they were. I even let them give me shots. I can’t say it’s effortless, as i’m very private in general, but I try to whip out my meter as casually as I would a comb. I still would never test out in public unless absolutely necessary — I’d rather sneak to the bathroom.

    I’m not sure what part of the above would be a solution for this girl, except that it is a realization she has to come to on her own and being pushed into it is just going to make her ignore her condition longer. (I can’t imagine ever *disconnecting* my pump, though — eek.) I’d imagine escaping the overbearing mother has a lot to do with it, too. She has to feel pretty crappy running 300 all the time, and maybe that alone will kick her back into shape soon.

  3. I wasn’t a rebel because I was 30 years old when I found out. However, I have a story to share if you wish to read it at my blog. Its pretty long, but maybe you can bring it up in your discussions with this friend.

    Make her realize she WILL lose her feet, eyes or organs if she doesn’t start taking care of herself.

    Good luck!

  4. I was a total rebel going months MONTHS without testing. It was when I finally went to the doctors and they told me my a1c was a 12.5. That scared me into changing my ways. I guess you can call it a phase but what helped me the most, honestly, was the OC.

    Maybe you can get her online reading and “meeting” people from the OC.

  5. Sara

    Maybe I should clip the obituary I read last week in a local paper. It was for a 29-year old who died from ‘diabetes complications’.

    This is such a hard disease to manage and stay on top of that I know we’ve all strayed from time to time. In my case the challenge is staying away from those delicious carbs especially ice cream – yum.

    See if she wouldn’t join up on TuDiabetes. Maybe talking online will help her some. People seem to open up more online than face to face.

    And it may be just impossible to help her. Sometimes people just can’t accept that even controlling mothers are often working for their own good. Trust me, I have one!

  6. Sara, I don’t have any constructive advice except to say that I’ve definitely been in your situation before. In college, I lived in the same house as a girl with type 1 who tested about once a day. She was really private about it.

    I was diagnosed in college so of course I had questions for her all the time. My meter battery died one time, so I borrowed hers. Her average was well over 300. I definitely agree with the idea of inviting her to join tudiabetes or some of the constructive groups on facebook. I had my friend go to a JDRF benefit with me and I sort of made myself a resource for her, but other than that, I’m not sure. It’s a tough situation to be in 😦

  7. I was dx at the age of 12 so I have had T1 for 31 years. I look at it this way if you want to live then you need to take care of yourself. Hopefully in the long run compilcations wont catch up to her. Let us know how she is doing.
    Thanks : )

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