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Our college freshman is not testing - help

Discussion in 'Parents of College Kids and Young Adults with Type' started by eon, Oct 25, 2011.

  1. eon

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    DS has had diabetes all his life (diagnosed 12 months of age), and did a pretty good job managing himself through high school, but now that he's at college 1500 miles away, it's all gone down the drain. He rarely tests - skips some days entirely, others just one or two, whether the BG is 60 or 460. He's on the pump. Perhaps that makes him think he can "set it and forget it," but of course he's also forgetting to dose or enter carbs at meals as well. Our agreement was he would upload his pump/BG numbers every two weeks. Then, when we found his daily management was so poor, we said every one week, but that hasn't made any difference so far (only been a few weeks, yet).

    So the question, really, is what can distant parents do about this? His dad is of the opinion that we should not let him continue at the school after this semester if he doesn't start taking care of himself. That he should be made to go to our state's university instead, this winter. I just don't know.

    We plan to get information out to the RA and dorm mates and frat brothers, but... how intrusive should we be? Or, more importantly, are threats the right way to go? There's so much fear for us parents, isn't there? And the kids (some of them) just don't get it. So while most parents of college students should just learn to "let go" it's not so easily said when the student has T1.

    Sorry for going on... Threats? Patience? Disengagement? What works for an otherwise smart guy who's putting himself at risk and doesn't seem to care? (Oh, one more kink: he has no trouble lying to us. He'll agree to anything, but then won't do it. Can you say passive-aggressive?)
     
  2. obtainedmist

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    I'm so sorry that this is happening and feel your anguish. I would tend to side with your husband and tell him that if he doesn't start taking the responsibility of D care seriously, he'll have to move home. Going away to college is a priviledge and with that comes responsibility. If he can't live up to his end of the bargain, then he shouldn't have the priviledge. It's not a threat really, but a logical consequence of his actions. As long as you are footing the bill, you do have a say in it.

    Is there anything else going on that might be keeping him from taking care of himself? Is he self-conscious about doing the testing and bolusing...a lot of peer pressure or something? Would seeing a therapist specializing in chronic illness burnout help? Has his endo ever had the erectile dysfunction and poor D care talk with him? That seems to get the guys' attention! As far as intrusiveness, I think that can cause a lot of embarassment and resentment. Either he does it or he doesn't and nothing his roommates or RA can do to make him more responsible unless he sees the benefit himself.

    Hoping that things get better soon and he starts getting with the program! I can only suggest that you keep calm and communicate with him in a very unemotional way...just the facts, m'am!
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2011
  3. nanhsot

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    Oh, this makes me so sad, for all of you. For him because it just stinks that he has this burden to bear, and of course my mother's heart is simply crying over your pain. Tough stuff, and as the mom of a teenager getting closer to that day, I know what a tricky balancing act you are attempting. Keeping him healthy vs alienating him....trusting so that he learns responsibility but hovering enough to make sure trust is earned.

    I guess my first question would be to ask who is paying for college? Just as we've always taught our kids that if they don't keep up their grades in college then parental support for college will be yanked and it will be back home in community college or go get a job. Same thing applies here, IMO. If we are paying for him to be away from college in order to get an education but he is blowing that opportunity by not taking care of his health, then I'd advise that you bring him back home.

    Now, be aware that the answer may be NO, and you may push him away, he could just drop out and not finish his education, so it's a slippery slope you are on.

    I'd advise a meeting with his endo or a trusted CDE, maybe even a college guidance counselor if you know of one with health issue experience.

    If you had a child who went off to college and was troubled by alcoholism...or some mental health issue that was "hidden", there would be no question that you'd get him the medical help he needed. I think this is similar in that his long term health is at risk, and as long as you are the one funding his life, you still have a say in things.

    Good luck, update us when you can, I'm interested very much in how things go. I'll be thinking of you guys (and am saying a prayer too, if that is something you believe in...if not, well, prayers are never wasted IMO!)
     
  4. mocha

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    I can't imagine how hard this must be for you as parents.

    I'm going to admit that I was not a star d-child my first semester up at college. In fact, I was far from it (sorry Mom and Dad). I wasn't testing as often as I should have been, I was on a pump, and I wasn't really following all the rules that I had been following for the previous d-years of my life.

    In all honesty, I was going through burnout. I was just so sick of it, and at the first moment of freedom, I put it on the back burner. (I was also dealing with a lot of other stresses that aren't d or school related.)

    Threats wouldn't have (and didn't) help. It ended up making it worse. I was, and still am rather stubborn. (My mom used to say that we shouldn't argue with her because God invented stubborn with her. I was a little smart aleck and told her once "God may have invented stubborn with you but he's perfecting it with me!") After some pushing and shoving from both sides, we both realized this was only making me be even less of a good d-model.

    Telling all my friends and living acquaintances would have just made me hate my parents more than my teenage angst already made me hate them. (Hate is such a strong word, but I was incredibly peeved because there were serious problems with listening and communication between them and me, plus all the other stuff and OMG teen angst!)

    It would have been treating me like I was 3 and telling all my friends that I might pee myself in public (on an emotional level). Yes, d is much more serious, but having your parents step in and announce that you are somehow NOT NORMAL to everyone at this age is quite possibly the most humiliating thing you can do and it burns the bridges of communication. (And trust me, your kids have dirt on you and when they're angry and not thinking, they may just tell everyone. Hello conversation switcher!)

    What helped me the most was having my then boyfriend (who is now my husband) become interested in my d and my health in general. He helped me set small goals to help me get back into routine. I can't (and most people can't) make a switch from little to no taking care of themselves to doing everything at once. It's just too overwhelming and you'll end up back where you started. Think small, little goals and rewards. I checked at least once every day for a week? We bought Ben and Jerry's! 2 week in a row? Fancy dinner! Checked at least twice every day for a week? Movie date! 2 weeks in a row? Movie date followed by Ben & Jerry's and then a video game marathon the next day! If I didn't meet the minimum goal for the week, nice date was canceled, replaced with homework date (even when homework wasn't due! :eek: He gave me extra homework a couple of times!).

    Bribery works for people of all ages. With the fibbing, you might need to put in conditions of proof and double checking. Maybe something like:
    "Okay, let's start out small and say one check a day. You do that for X amount of time, and we'll need to see the pump and meter uploads, and we'll work on getting <insert one thing desired>. We don't care what the numbers are, just that there are numbers. "

    tl;dr: Not a parent, but threats, probably not a good idea, maybe find a way to make small goals and reward meeting those goals. College is full of lots of new stresses and remembering and learning how to take care of yourself. It takes time to figure out how to juggle it all.
     
  5. Amy C.

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    I have a 17 year about to embark on the college adventure. When I relayed this story to him, he asked "Doesn't he feel bad?" My son hates being high more than anything. His body simply doesn't work well when high.

    A couple of things I might do:
    1. Do not contact his RA, his friends, or frat brothers. That is being a helicopter parent. This will backfire in the end and not achieve what you want.
    2. Do ask what you can do to help him manage. Some have their child communicate the diabetes management each day via text or phone. Ask your son if this will help.
    3. Contact your son's endo he used to see to ask how to deal with this. Your son is not the first Type 1 to forget he has diabetes once at college.
    4. Lower your expectations of what he will do. I always wanted my son to be sure he bolused, later we added checking the blood sugar. I hope this continues.
    5. Look for the positive in what he is doing. Is he bolusing most of the time? Is he wearing his pump and keeping insulin in it?
    6. It is hard to manage on your own -- even adults need a support system. You may not be able to do it from a distance, but perhaps your son can find a buddy to help him out. Help him explore options.
     
  6. eon

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    I wish our son felt something when he's running a high BG, but... Maybe it's because he's had D all his life, there is no "normal" for him. He does feel a low or a high - some percentage of the time, it just doesn't seem to bother him until his vision gets blurry etc.

    He does keep the pump loaded and working, I see carbs and boluses entered at least a couple times a day, though not consistently.

    I do lean toward having somewhat lower expectations and starting with small steps: 1ce a day testing. Moving up when we have consistent results on that. And I lean toward having a bit more patience, since it's only been about 2 1/2 months, but I'm not sure his Dad will go for that. He's too worried.

    Wish I could think of some incentives to offer for good performance (other than our not calling him 5 times a day wanting to be sure he hasn't collapsed and been sent to the hospital, and not calling the school's Security dept to check on him!). For now, he has enough money that we can't offer that.

    Hmmm..... need a treat that I could send in a care package that wouldn't just be a BG nightmare... Ideas, anyone?
     
  7. Amy C.

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    Make a neat treats and package in individual servings with the carb count for each included.
     
  8. MomofSweetOne

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    When I asked our CDE what the years ahead will look like, she said that things won't change much between now and graduation, that we should continue monitoring daily as we're doing, that my DD will do more and more when she's out and away from us, but to keep the accountability through the HS years. When I asked if that were setting her up for failure to suddenly be solo in diabetes management in college, she said, "She won't be. You'll call every day a while to check in and continue to monitor doses, levels, etc. to take the burden off her while she adjusts to college life. Then you will gradually reduce your involvement over the next few years. You will need to be involved for a LONG time yet." So, no experience from us, but just how I was told to plan on involved for the next 10 or so years....
     
  9. eon

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    Thanks. If only our DS would answer the phone when we call... or answer emails when we send them! That's been a problem, too.
     
  10. MomofSweetOne

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  11. mocha

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    That's a good question! I honestly don't know what would be a good incentive for him. I guess the only way to know is to ask.

    As far as getting your spouse on board with the idea, again I have no real creative ideas. I wish I could help in this department!
     
  12. MomofSweetOne

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    I can understand not approaching his friends, but I think I WOULD contact the RA since an RA is in a position of school leadership. This could become a life-threatening situation, and an RA is someone that should see him on a regular basis and be aware of the potential dangers and symptoms. The grandson of family friends died during college because by the time his friends realized he was seriously ill, DKA was too far gone to save him. If an RA or someone close had realized and taken him for help, his death could have been prevented.
     
  13. katerinas

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    Could he hear a CGM?
     
  14. emm142

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    More importantly, would he wear and calibrate a CGM if he's not even testing? I think a CGM is more work than basic fingerprick checks. Whether or not a CGM would help really depends on the reasons for his not testing.
     
  15. eon

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    Exactly. He has CGM, but has only rarely used it. He says it's mostly because of times it has kept him up at night with false lows: finger test shows he's 90, but CGM thinks he's 70 and gives alarms. Stuff like that.

    However, since he's not testing at all, and far more likely to be hyper these days, perhaps I'll try to convince him to use the CGM for a few rounds.

    He is supposed to be uploading pump numbers sometime today. If he follows through with that (and I'll be sending him reminders!), I'll update here. Curious (to say the least!) to know whether he has tested even once each day.
     
  16. joan

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    Sorry to hear you are going through this. I also have a freshman who has had d almost his whole life so I completely understand the fear and worry.

    I am just wondering if you are surprised by this behavior? If my son decided to completely stop checking his bs since it has been basically normal for him his whole life I might question if he is getting depressed or using this behavior as a cry for some sort of help. What does he say when you ask him why he is not testing?

    I think I might take a trip to his school and have a talk with your son. Find out why this is happening and see what he has to say about it. Seeinf if he is just being immature or if he needs help. If he is being immature coming home for school is the answer, if he is having troubles adjusting to college with his d then he needs help and there may be campus services that can help

    I might mention it to the RA to just let him or her know that you are concerned and they may need to intervene. As far as telling friends I don't think I would mention it.
     
  17. obtainedmist

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    Great advice here!
     
  18. eon

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    Cool to "meet" someone in just the same place (so to speak) as us.

    We have no indications that he is depressed or otherwise in difficulty. In fact, it's more that he's so busy and having such an interesting (and fun) time that managing the big D has just been pushed right out of his head. So, it's partly immaturity and -- mostly, I think -- spreading those first-time-freedom wings.

    What he always says when we ask is one or both of: "I don't know" and "I know I need to do better." There isn't much we can do with either answer. But thanks to the comments here, I'm making the attempt to do less yelling and more listening (in hopes that something coherent will come out of his mouth eventually) and supporting.

    He'll be having a visit from his grandparents soon. Not sure that will be of help in this, but I'll try to get them to take the same stance.
     
  19. obtainedmist

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    I do think age of dx has a lot to do with it. Molly was 18 when dx'd, lost 32 lbs (she was out of the country for 5 months on a high school exchange) and felt horrible for a few months before coming home and going straight into the ICU. The memory of the devastation that occured in her body is very "fresh" and I think put a lot of exclamation marks on the need to take care of herself. I think if she'd been dx'd at 12 months...it would be a totally different scenario.

    I'm glad to hear that he's busy, happy and having a good time. It sounds as if he'll get his groove and figure out a way to be independent and still take good care of himself.
     
  20. joan

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    Glad to hear it's not a depression issue,that is something I always worry about.

    It is nice to know that there are other of us parents experiencing the same thing. We are actually in the car right now driving 600 mile to visit him and see a football game. good luck with this
     

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