Outsourcing the Worrying

When people hear me talk about how complicated it is to manage diabetes, they often try to console me by saying that soon Tia will be old enough to handle it herself… Some consolation. (You can read my blog “Isn’t he too old for that?” for my opinion on kids managing diabetes on their own).

From the moment our children are born, we know that they will grow up to be adults. That one day they will have children that will drive them crazy like they drive us crazy. That they will have to work and worry about all the things adults worry about and kids don’t. What none of us plan for our children is that they will be burdened by the complex task of managing a chronic condition like diabetes.

We don’t plan on them having to deal with it as an adult, and we certainly don’t plan on them having to deal with it as a child. Yet when a child is diagnosed with diabetes, no matter how much the parents take on, there is still a fair amount of responsibility placed on the child.

Anyone who lives with diabetes, or knows someone with diabetes, or has read any of my blogs, knows how incredibly difficult it is to manage diabetes. So why would a parent feel better knowing that one day all of that worry will fall solely to his child?

In my recent interview on NBC’s Today in the Bay I addressed that issue when talking about having to tag along with Tia when she goes Trick or Treating tonight. Many children her age can go alone with a group of friends, or with just one parent dragging behind. In our case, I would have to be that parent. It’s not that I don’t trust her to bolus for the candy she will undoubtedly eat. It’s not that I’m worried about her checking her blood sugar (I know she won’t). It’s that I know that there is a good chance that her blood sugar will drop as she’s running around carrying a heavy load of treats. The exercise and excitement can cause her to drop suddenly without her even feeling it.

I want to be there to make sure she’s okay if that happens. If her friends want to keep going from house to house, I want to make sure she’s not alone. I know she can handle it, but I don’t want her to have to think about it, just for this one night.

Yes, one day Tia will have to manage diabetes all by herself, and I will able to sleep “soundly” through the night. But just as no parent ever stops worrying about their child, I won’t either. And just because she won’t be in the next room doesn’t mean I won’t still wake up at night and wonder what her blood sugar is.  (I often have the urge to check my son when my Tia is away at diabetes camp!).

For now, I am grateful that she can “outsource the worrying” about diabetes and “just” worry about homework, friendships, and what to dress up for Halloween. But it’s no consolation for me to know that one day she will have to take full ownership of that worry.

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