Title

Personal Stories

Letting Go – One Mom’s Struggle to Trust Her Adult Son with T1D

I get into my teenage son’s car and see empty juice boxes on the passenger seat. This wouldn’t mean anything to an average mom, but it causes my heart to sink. I contemplate at what point he felt his blood sugar dropping – before he drove, during, or after.

Letting Go – One Mom’s Struggle to Trust Her Adult Son with T1D

We’ve been over driving with low blood sugar as much as driving under the influence of alcohol; they are both equally dangerous. He knows this, and I trust him. I can’t imagine what that loss of control must feel like. I breathe and say a little prayer.

Sam took a graduation trip with some buddies along the Moab River for three days and nights. It was his first trip away from me without adult supervision. When he came back, he casually said that his pump stopped working. Oh really? I say back just as coolly when I feel like my eyes could pop out of my head as they do in old-time cartoons. I keep my hands plastered to my side and wait for the details like a junkie waiting for my fix. I want to throttle him to spill the beans. How could this have happened?

My pump stopped working in the middle of the desert.

His boat overturned on the river, and the pump got wet. Wait. What? When? The questions flew out of my mouth faster than an auctioneer at a Sotheby’s auction. It happened on day two. DAY TWO, which meant for two days, he was without an insulin pump and was doing shots and checks, which we hadn’t done since he was four.

Okay. I felt a triple dose of emotions all at once…First-SYMPATHY, for him, that he had to deal with this thorn in his side called type 1 diabetes, then DISBELIEF that he didn’t call us!

“He probably knew you’d be in the car within hours to pick him up,” my husband says, and I know he’s right. Then I felt RAGE against this disease that robbed him of the carefree weekend he so deserved to enjoy. I also felt proud that he handled it so well and survived without me.

Diabetes is an emotional rollercoaster for everyone in the family.

Since his pump died, he switched to the new Tandem T: slim X2 and Dexcom G6, and I haven’t been as involved. One reason is that I don’t have to; there’s no need for my constant barrage of orders to do checks.

I feel like a retired jockey at the tracks fidgeting for the reins. At the same time I'm also trying to take my hands off and trust him. He’s twenty now, and I’ll admit we still have a co-dependent relationship. I’m as ultra-controlling as they come, as most parents of children with chronic illnesses are, but I’m learning not to be. It's a challenge for us both.

They are adults when they turn eighteen, as hard as it is to accept.

They don’t need our signatures on waivers. They can vote and can enlist in the army, God forbid. (Thankfully type 1s cannot.) We’re asked to leave the room during doctor appointments.

I see him drinking a ton of juice boxes, and we talk it out to see if we need to adjust his blood sugar numbers. He’s good, I’m good; not ready for him to move across the country-good, but baby steps. I’m letting go and passing the baton to him, which is parenting in its finest glory. In a strange and wonderful way, this shifting of power is a part of our growth as human beings. You let go so they can fly. As they trusted us all their little lives, we must learn to trust them now.

Though on a real note, let’s face it—with parenting—the teaching and learning never ends.

We went on a family hike recently, and I noticed that we brought no bag, which equals no juice, tablets, or candy. It was only a one-to-two-mile hike, but I’ve seen Sam get low walking around the block. It still strikes a chord of fear through me. I couldn’t relax until we returned to the car safely, where I knew we kept a stash of fruit chews in the glove compartment.

I say, “You know, we probably should always be carrying candy or glucose tablets in case of lows.” He says, “I was thinking the same thing.” I smile and know I’ve done my job.

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