This is the finale of the series. Links to previous posts are below, if you'd like to read it in order.
I was asked recently on my blog if I had any tips for a family that was considering Arden’s school day diabetes management plan. Anything that I hadn’t mentioned – perhaps a tip that would make the transition smoother. I responded in part by saying, “I didn’t know what I was doing when I started either.” I think that’s the most powerful message of support I could offer anyone. None of us know what to expect when we forge our own way with type 1 diabetes. All we have is the knowledge that we’ve been able to accumulate, but I think that’s a lot.
Consider how little you knew on the day that your child was diagnosed and remember how your doctors only began to scratch the surface when they explained diabetes care. Now, you probably have more diabetes knowledge than three doctors combined. I know that I am the foremost expert on my daughter’s physiology. I can, with great accuracy, predict how her body will react to insulin, exercise, stress and all of the factors that we pay attention to. I didn’t learn these things in school or at a doctor’s office, I learned them by experiencing diabetes – and that’s how our kids are going to learn.*
I want to caution you to not get too comfortable and to always keep a watchful eye as our children take over more and more control of their day-to-day diabetes health considerations. Because even though they are some of the most courageous and levelheaded kids a person will ever meet, they are still kids. I think they want and need to know that we are here. “We” doesn’t have to mean just parents. If you end up trying Arden’s plan in school, please remind the teacher that your child’s diabetes independence doesn’t mean that they don’t need an adult to be concerned and watchful at times. My friend’s new book reminded me recently that sometimes the most responsible children tend to get forgotten and that space can lead to apathy for them. Sometimes the trust is easy to take advantage of, especially if the child is experiencing diabetes burnout. It can happen to anyone and it will, so always remember to be a presence during those formable years.
It’s my sincere wish that this series has helped you to feel powerful and more in control. I hope that something I’ve shared has given you a new perspective and made you feel like the idea of anything being possible isn’t just something you read on an Internet meme. I also want to thank you, because I learned something from writing these pieces. I learned that I was getting too complacent and that we should be taking what we’ve learned from the last year of managing Arden’s diabetes from school and make something new happen.
I’m very excited to share that by the time you read this Arden will have gone to a concert with her best friend and her friend’s mother, without me or my wife in attendance. I’m going to take the things that I’ve learned from Arden’s diabetes management at school and use them to let go a little more. I’m going to use them to give Arden more freedom, so that diabetes can be a smaller part of her life. It may take a lot of self-control not to drive up the interstate behind our friend’s car and sit in the parking lot of the stadium, but I’m going to use the same courage I felt in an e-mail one of you sent me recently. If you can read about what I do and find the strength to try… so can I.
Thank you so much for reading!