A Guide to Parents, Written by a Teenage Diabetic

Eric Herschler (DOB 5/26/94)'s father writes:

Our son, Eric, was diagnosed on Dec. 18, 2006 {His D Day, as we call it.}. He was taken to the ER room by us since he appeared very lethargic and was vomiting. Neither my wife nor I had any idea what was wrong with him. We thought he had the flu we had both had the week earlier. In fact, he was in severe ketoacidosis and we were told later on he had been near death. He was immediately transferred by ambulance to CHOC where he spent two days in the ICU and two days in recovery.

He wrote this article several months ago and now completely manages his diabetes care using a pump.

Eric Herschler, a 13-year-old type 1 diabetic, has tips for older folks on how to deal with diabetic kids.

May 8, 2008

When I was diagnosed with diabetes a year and a half ago, my life changed enormously. My parents became obsessed with diabetes but they have always helped me. Here are a few tips on how to help your child with diabetes:

  1. Never, never, NEVER groan when your child has a high number. Yes, we know it's high. It's usually not our fault. When it is our fault, though, do remind us gently not to eat that last cake slice.
  2. Don't go crazy when we have low numbers. Ok? Yes, we sometimes have 40s and lower. Just hand us a juice. Don't go crazy.
  3. Don't pressure us 24/7 to do exercise when we are high. Being high and exercising is the last thing we want to do. Instead, suggest walking in place for about 15 minutes to half an hour. It works great with me! If it doesn't work, don't just boot your child out the door. Do everything with him/her, so (s)he doesn’t feel lonely.
  4. Don't complain about us having diabetes. It's not our fault.
  5. Be patient when younger kids cry about shots. It's scary.
  6. A pump is probably the scariest thing about diabetes in the world.  At 13 years of age, I still get the chills, even though I've had the pump since last August. Be extremely patient with the pump.
  7. Participate in the [fundraiser] walks. They will make you feel good and you get great stuff, like free testers and test strips too!
  8. Prepare your kid, but not excessively. Only pack us up with  a tester, a juice, and a quick 15 carb snack. That's it.
  9. Don't cry in front of us. That just makes us more depressed;  knowing that we caused this for you.
  10. Finally, support us in everything we do. If we want to go jet packing off the Niagara Falls, don't stop us by saying, "You can't do  that. How will you do your shots?" Instead, take about 20 minutes discussing how you are going to manage your diabetes and still have fun. It will pay off in the end, trust me.
I hope you took the time to read this guide. If you follow the rules, it should make life easier. Also, buy the Calorie King books. They’re like the diabetic Bible! Click Here To View Or Post Comments

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Posted by Anonymous on 7 May 2008

As a parent of a recently-diagnosed Type 1 (at age 17!), I found this a wonderful article. I am constantly packing his coat/backpack with too many snacks, worry when his blood sugar is too high but I am not one to show him when I"m upset. I wonder sometimes if I'm over-protective (getting up every morning to make him a cheese omelet and low-carb toast, juice, and make sure he gets his vitamins..) or if it's a help. I'd like to see more articles from teens and how the parents' reactions affect them. Thanks.

Posted by Anonymous on 8 May 2008

As a parent, this is one of the most inspiring articles I've read. Easy, short, to the point.
Thank you!!!

Posted by megan.etheridge on 8 May 2008

dude your so right i hate when my parents bitch at me about my sugars i now just blantley lie about them and make up ones off the top of my head to tell them.

Posted by Anonymous on 9 May 2008

When educating a new family I like to point out a few things about Blood Glucose results.
1. These numbers are not Good or Bad, they are just results. They are information that helps manage diabetes. People are "good" or "bad" by their deeds (and lying is "bad"). That number on the machine is just a number that helps you figure out what to do (or what you did).
2. I don't like to "test" blood glucose. When you take a test in school you get a grade. But that number on the meter is not a grade. You cannot pass or fail on a blood glucose monitor. So I teach families to "Check" blood glucose (not "Test").

Megan: How do you feel about lying to your parents? I understand their reactions in the past to your blood glucose numbers may have been disappointing, but in the end, it's because they love you and care about you. Show them this article and ask them to be on your diabetes team (not the opponent).

Pediatric Dietitian, Diabetes Educator

Posted by Anonymous on 9 May 2008

i agree about bgs- mom freaks out when i'm low.

Posted by Anonymous on 9 May 2008

Grow up! Take responsibility for your own numbers, yes. But all diabetics of all ages have to have family support - give them the truthful information they need!

Posted by Anonymous on 9 May 2008

From a parent of a newly diagnosed 13 year old - Thank you - Great article!

Posted by Anonymous on 10 May 2008

Great article. I have 2 sons, 10 and 7, that are diabetic. We have been dealing with this for 6 1/2 years now. My goal, as a parent, is to guide them to make the right decisions when it comes to managing their diabetes. You learn through trial and error. I offer my opinion, and whatever they choose to do is discussed with me. Then I know to keep an eye on them to see if anything happens (low or high). We then can see if maybe next time a different decision should have been made. This allows them to feel as if they have control and also educates them so that when they do go off to college they can at least know how to make the right choices.

It is hard to do, but it has to be done, and in the grand scheme of things, taking good care of themselves is the most important thing. I try to never act sad, frustrated, or angry. I just act matter of factly (even when they are upset with getting site changes)...because your response as a parent will be their future response to dealing with diabetes on their own.

Posted by Anonymous on 10 May 2008

After a very recent diagnosis for my 10 year old son, I need all the help I can get. It is so great to hear it from a teen's perspective!! I am learning every day.

Posted by Anonymous on 15 May 2008

Megan, if your parents do not support you in your Diabetes treatment, it is possible that they never will. Parents are just people, and they take it upon themselves to judge and lay blame where they feel it's deserved. Usually it's for their own edification, and you know better than any of us whether or not you can trust them.

It's sad that you have to lie to them, and I'm sure that's not your fault, but it's important to have someone (a doctor or a friend) who you CAN tell the truth to.

Posted by Anonymous on 16 May 2008

Great article. For a book, i suggest "Taking Control of your Diabetes" by Dr. Steven Edelman, M.D. who has Type 1 diabetes himself. The book is in its third edition. If they come close to where you are, or if you want to take a vacation to where they are going, I HIGHLY recommend it. I've been twice.

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