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apathetic teen diabetic

Is there a "diabetic boot camp" out there for teens who have lost sight of the seriousness of their condition? My 18 year old nephew has stopped testing himself, lies about the numbers when he does (350 tonight), and doesn't change his set regularly. He thinks he is invincible I think. No amount of talking, pleading, etc seems to work and my sister is worried about his health and potential complications. He has had diabetes since age 3, has played athletics and lived a fairly normal life until this year when he seems to not care. Any suggestions for her??? Thanks!!
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Avatar universal
I am not aware of anything like this, but if other readers are, please feel free to share. What you are describing is very common, and seems to be rooted in feelings that if we go into a denial of sorts of our disease, we can live like everybody else. Many doctors believe that all type 1 people should have some counseling, for depression is really common. I recommend this kind of approach: counseling for the entire family, for the reactions from parents may be reinforcing the lying about numbers that upset them. One young diabetic person wrote to me once that this is the only disease whereby a working pancreas organ seems to be replaced by guilt. A type 1 diabetic's numbers are going to be up and down all day. That is fact. But instead of seeing a number that is out of the normal range as merely information to tell him to adjust the pump settings, both the kid and the parents tend to see the numbers as 'bad' or 'good'. This sets the whole denial thing into motion.

The other thing that comes into play is just plain fatigue. We live on a roller coaster of glucose ups and downs and can never take a break. It gets exhausting for some people, balancing either school and social issues for teens with glucose monitoring or job and marriage issues with glucose balancing for adults. My sympathies lie with the teen, actually, for I know what it is like. I heartily recommend that his parents get all of them into some counseling sessions. Some phone calls need to be made to try to find a counselor who has experience with diabetes, for the diabetes issues for a type 1 diabetic are unique and must be understood by the counselor in order to be able to help. But the issues need to be dealt with on a professional level so that the parents can get a new look at how best to support their teen and encourage him to take proper care of himself. And the teen may need some professional advice on ways to help him to prioritize his health as well as ways to normalize his lifestyle despite the very real presence of diabetes as part of it.

One more suggestion is for either the teen or the parents or BOTH to contact the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation's Online Diabetes Support Team (ODST) at www.jdrf.org. Click on the link for the ODST on the left side of the page, and a page comes up where some brief info can be written -- then when this info is sent to the moderators of the ODST, one-on-one e-mail communications can be set up. We can match your nephew up one-on-one with another young adult or teen who understands what he deals with, and we can match his parents up with other parents who have walked their beloved teens through this rocky time of life and the denial phase that is so very common for the teens.

He may just be exhausted of the daily battle, and may need professional encouragement or encouragement from someone who walks the same daily walk. Many type 1 diabetics tell those of us who are part of the ODST group that they feel very much alone and it helps to communicate with others. This seems sometimes to be the best incentive of all to watch those glucose numbers. I hope this helps.
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Avatar universal
Thank you for taking the time to respond. I appreciate your advice and will pass it along to my sister. The key is to find a counselor who understands the diabetic situation and who understands teens as well. Thank you so much for your encouragement.
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Avatar universal
My niece went to a diabetic camp when she was 16.  It helped her out a lot.

I think it was a week long camp that she went to in West Virginia.  I don't know what camp or where she found it, but they are out there.  I guess you will have to search.  

I would think they would have a web page. try a google search for diabetic camps.

If I talk to my brother any time soon I will ask him if he remembers what camp his daughter went to.

I wish you and your niece well in this trying time.

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233382 tn?1193658141
As we all know, this is not a diabetic-only behaviour as it can come from any teenager.

I recommend the following book: "How to Deal With Your Acting up Teenager: Practical Help for Desperate Parents (Paperback) " by Robert T. Bayard (Author).

It basically talks about how to give your child responsibility for his/her actions and behaviour. Its very good and seems to be working for our son, slowly but surely. We are working hard of making his behaviour, related to not to his diabetes, going from our collective problem to his personal problem. The consequences of not testing herself or lying will be felt by her first. Obviously there are other consequences that can affect you - ride to the emergency, stress, etc... and those must be communicated to her. However, do not make it your problem - you are only there to help, ... if needed. I am halfway through the book and already feel less stressed out.

Good luck!
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Avatar universal
Thanks for the name of the book. I will pass it on to her. Having been through the teenage years with another son (who is not diabetic) my sister has had experience with the typical worrisome behavioral issues that are part of a normal teenage experience. This feels different to her though because she feels his life is at risk. She is afraid he is driving with low blood sugar etc. When she doesn't hear from him, she worries that he is unconscious etc. But, I know what you mean that he needs to take responsibility. She is feeling guilty too that she somehow has failed to instill in him the maturity needed to live a diabetic lifestyle without her intervention. She really isn't a worrier by nature but this past year I have seen her concern increase. 25 years ago we  had a childhood friend who died from diabetic complications at age 20 because she didn't take care of herself when she went off to college. I know my sister thinks of that too. Thank you so much for taking the time to encourage a stranger and make recommendations.
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