Tag: Teen

Life with a Daughter with Type 1 Diabetes

*This article is not to be taken as medical advice or as an expert piece on Type 1 Diabetes. The purpose of this article is to provide a look into one family’s experience and journey with a daughter with Type 1 Diabetes.

Isabella is a 12 year old young lady who is very smart, energetic and enjoys music and Irish dancing. She also loves to socialize with friends and play with her dog. Isabella is also a Netflix junkie and binge watches shows constantly. She is a daughter and sister to a 20-year old sister named Cassandra and she is well loved by all!

You could say that she sounds like a typical young lady; however she is battling a lot more than a typical young person would and that is Type 1 Diabetes since the age of eight.

So what exactly is Type 1 Diabetes?

According to Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (JDRF), Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease that occurs when the body’s immune system attacks and destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Unlike type 2 diabetes, T1D is not linked to being overweight, lack of exercise or other lifestyle factors. It is not preventable and its causes is unknown.

People with T1D must take insulin via syringe or insulin pump in required doses in order to control glucose levels in their blood. This continuous glucose monitoring involves testing their blood sugar by pricking their finger(s) six or more times a day. Despite this constant attention, people with T1D still run the risk of dangerously high blood sugar levels, which can led to complications, or dangerously blood sugar levels, which can result in a coma.

Isabella’s Story

Before Isabella was officially diagnosed, she appeared to be looking more thin than usual and was sleeping a lot. Isabella was drinking a lot of fluids and getting up all night to use the bathroom. Isabella’s mom, Vicki, thought that her daughter could have a urinary tract infection and took her into the walk-in-clinic. Upon checking her urine, the doctor inquired if Isabella was diabetic as there was sugar in her urine. Vicki informed the doctor that Isabella was not diabetic; however the doctor insisted that this was the case since sugar was present in Isabella’s urine. To further check, the doctor did a finger poke to see what her blood sugar was at and it was 29. Now this is shockingly high as a healthy person would typically be in the 5s. The doctor sent Isabella and her mom directly to emergency and instructed Vicki on what to tell the hospital team.


At the hospital, the entire staff took to her bedside immediately and only moments later was given the diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes which they stated was an autoimmune disease. “I didn’t even know what that meant. I assumed there was one kind of diabetes and couldn’t understand how a healthy eight year old could get it,” says Vicki. They were then transferred to a more accommodating hospital where Isabella stayed for three days to monitor her and get her blood sugar under control. At the hospital they were introduced to a clinic team who trained Vicki and her husband on how to care for their daughter, Isabella. They taught them how to check blood sugar; how much food Isabella can eat and at what scheduled times to do so; to ensure Isabella would stay within her target numbers.

Isabella’s parents also learned about all the things that would affect blood sugar, what would make it go up or down, without their control. In addition, they learned about the illness, physical activity, nerves, excitement, weather conditions, hormones, etc.

Isabella’s Treatment

Isabella began on regular needle injections four times a day, using two different types of insulin. This form of treatment requires a strict carbohydrate count and time sensitive schedule.

A year later, Isabella started on an insulin pump. This has given the family much more flexibility with their scheduling. Isabella’s parents are responsible for the settings in the pump and making changes to them when Isabella is having a growth spurt, exercising or for just no reason at all sometimes. Isabella’s parents work alongside a wonderful team at their clinic who are always a phone call away to assist them.

Life with a Daughter with T1D

Life has changed drastically for Isabella and her family. Vicki states, “I have become a very different mother with Isabella than I was with my eldest daughter, Cassandra. I became a helicopter parent. She doesn’t have sleepovers, not even at her grandparents’ houses. It is too much to watch her blood sugar through the night if you aren’t used to it. I would worry that people wouldn’t know what to do.”

The family also needs to ensure that they carry supplies and food everywhere they go. When they plan a trip, it takes a lot of planning and much more effort than before. They are all now much more food conscious as different foods can affect Isabella’s blood sugar differently. The “gadgets” that Isabella uses has been one of the biggest life changing aspects for her. “She is embarrassed by the gadgets she wears. She wears both an insulin pump and a Continuous Glucose Monitor (CGM). They will make noises when her blood sugar is out of range and people will ask what the noises are for. However, the CGM has been a great tool for us as it has made management so much easier. I am able to see her blood sugar from anywhere in the world without having to be near her. This has helped us keep down on the finger pokes throughout the day and helps keep her blood sugar closer to the target,” says Vicki.

A Mother’s Wish

“I wish people understood that T1D is an autoimmune disease and there was nothing Isabella could have done differently to avoid getting it. There is such a stigma attached to the disease because it has the word diabetes in it. I also wish that people knew that an insulin pump has not solved all of our problems. It simply holds the cartridge of insulin for us instead of having to inject using needles and rids us of the eating schedule. We still have to program it, make setting changes regularly, match food to carbohydrate ratios, be conscious about physical activities, etc. I also wish people knew what a toll this disease takes on Isabella and on our family,” says Vicki.

Vicki further stated, “I haven’t slept longer than a 3-hour stretch in years because I wake up to check Isabella’s blood sugar every couple of hours for fear of her going too low or sitting too high. It consumes my mind both day and night. I am constantly watching numbers, recording readings, making changes, asking her questions about what she’s eaten or done. I wish people knew that this takes a tremendous toll on Isabella’s body, spirit and mind. Highs and lows through the night will have her feeling exhausted in the morning. High blood sugar will have her going to the washroom more, drinking more, and feeling cranky and emotional. Lows can be scary and she may need help but can’t find the words to ask for it because her brain will not allow her to. People think “she has an attitude,” when in fact, she in unaware and unable to control her emotions. This is a huge burden on a child and I don’t think all adults understand the toll it can take on a child.”

T1D is a hard battle for the child and parents to deal with and it is important for family and friends to be cautious of what is said in front of the child. Vicki’s wish is for people not to ask if Isabella can or should be eating something. “Isabella can eat whatever she wants! She just has to give herself insulin to cover it in the moment and possibly in the hours that follow. But she can eat anything! People feel this need to police what she eats, and I’m sure it makes her feel bad,” says Vicki.

Isabella got to meet Nick Jonas.

Advice to Other Parents

The advice that Vicki would give to other parents that receive this type of diagnosis for their child is that their understanding of the disease and how to “best manage” it will get better. “No parent or child is perfect and this disease cannot be perfected. Don’t beat yourself up over the numbers. Just try your best. I cried every day for the first month. Support from other parents is key. I have support groups online that at times can act as a life line. These parents created #WeAreNotWaiting, and are being proactive in helping their children with technology faster than the medical world. I have been using NightScout, which is a way to monitor Isabella’s blood sugar on my smart watch using her CGM for almost two years now. I am more grateful for this than words could ever express,” says Vicki.

Becoming an Advocate for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation

After Isabella’s diagnosis, the family reached out to JDRF and the family was encouraged to sign up for the walk so that Isabella could meet other children like herself and to see that they were not alone. The family raised money and have participated in the walk every year since. On the day of the walk, it becomes a very emotional day for the family but they need the day to remember that this disease affects so many families and a cure needs to be found.

“It’s important for me to try to give back and that is why I fundraise for JDRF. Their research is what is going to make my child’s life that much easier to manage, hopefully prolong it and maybe one day cure the disease. It is my hope that with every dollar I raise, we get one step closer to finding a cure,” stated Vicki.

This past February sponsors (logos listed at the bottom of the article) held a fundraising event called, Isabella’s Angels Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball that raised funds for JDRF. I personally attended this event and it was an amazing event for an even better cause. This is just a sample of how this family inspires others to make a difference.

I would like to personally thank Vicki for taking the time to share Isabella’s story and I commend her on the amazing job as a mother and as an inspiration to help other families.

If you would like to learn more about T1D, please visit the JDRF website.

Until next time…Happy Parenting!

 

 

– Momma Braga

 

Isabella’s Angels Mardi Gras Masquerade Ball Sponsors:


My Daughter Hit A Low Patch Again…Dad Will Always Be There!

Guest Post By: Jeff Wood

If you have been following my blog you know my oldest daughter is 18 years old now and battles depression and anxiety.

Now things had really started to get better, the anger was lower, she was helping out without being asked and the biggest thing was that she was talking! Communication has always been her downfall and to see her opening up again was truly amazing. I had my little girl back, her brother and sister had the person they looked up to most, big sis, back! Things were great in our house.

Now you would think reading all that, things are still perfect. Ohhh man I wish they were, but anyone who has lived themselves or with someone else battling mental health sometimes it raises its ugly head and BOOM! right back down we go.

2 weeks ago I started seeing her behavior start to change. The first thing to go was the talking. Home from university and right downstairs, hide in her room for hours only coming up to play video games or for food. Ask about her day and you get one word answers like fine. No more talking about what she is doing or where she is going.

Big red flag for me and now I know something is wrong. Next comes the anger! Getting mad at anything said to her. The worst part is she gets stuck in her own head once talking stops and goes right to worse case scenarios, then reacts based on them even when it’s not reality. Now with this, anytime something is said to her the anger flares, and our house can become very volatile.

The whole time this is happening I try to talk to her. The first stage, not talking, gets me one word answers, the second, anger, gets me screamed at. I’m not talking your typical teen moodiness, I’m talking “Can you not right now, I’m not going to be all roses when you are the reason I’m angry!”, “It’s your fault that I’m mad, stop trying to talk to me, just leave me alone already!” all with blood curdling screams.

I have been told over the years she wishes I was never in her life, that I’m a horrible dad, I made her this way, I wish I wasn’t here, You think I’m a 2-year-old when I’m an adult – the list goes on and on. To be honest I remember saying the exact same things to my mom when I was fighting my own mind.

Believe me I don’t blame her for lashing out like this but I am so tired now emotionally from it. For almost 4 years now I have dealt with my daughters bad days and it takes a huge tole on me. I question whether I am a good dad, am I making the right choices, will my daughter turn out ok in life because she hates me so much – even though I know she loves me.

Her younger brother and sister have to sit through the meltdowns, hearing her sister scream from her room horrible things about dad. It has taken a toll on them as well and as their dad I feel horrible. They know why it’s happening, I have had those talks with them but to be honest I’m not sure they fully understand. My daughter never lashes out at her brother and sister no matter how low she gets and for that she is very strong. One day maybe she will talk with them to explain in her own words how she feels – when the time is right and they are old enough to fully understand.

The hard part of mental illness is during the low points, you don’t think clear and instead of pulling yourself up, you drag others down by any means possible. It’s hard to watch your child suffer with their own mind, you feel helpless and lost. Watching your other kids see and deal with it hurts. You feel as though you should just give up and walk away. On the really low days, Hell seems like a vacation compared to what happening. I would be lying if I didn’t say these are thoughts I have struggled with from time to time.

But here’s the thing for me, I WILL NEVER GIVE UP! I will take everything she throws at me, good and bad. I will be her punching bag always if it helps her deal with whats bugging her. I will be there to help whenever needed. I will also be the one who brings her off the ledge so to speak – by allowing her to scream, put me down, even hit me if it’s ever needed untill she is ready to open up. I love my daughter more than life itself! She will always be my first child, daddy’s little girl and a huge important part of my life.

After long talks over the weekend, the problems she was dealing with on her own came out. I will have a post soon about why. Things have calmed down and I hope will last for a while again. I was put through the ringer again, but it is worth it if only to allow her some mental peace. Sometimes as a dad, you need to same your child from themselves not just the world around them.

Now to work with her on more coping techniques, communication skills and to help were needed with these and any other problems she faces. Communication is key and the hardest lesson yet.

Parents, know your kids – and well. You never know when that knowledge will come in handy, but if it does you will be glad you paid attention.

Teen Depression & Anxiety

Guest Post By: Jeff Wood

As a father, all I want to do is help my kids through life to make it as fun and easy as possible. But like with ourselves sometimes life throws your child a curveball.

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My oldest daughter had quite a curveball thrown at her about 3 years ago. She ended up with depression. On top of that she has high anxiety. Now as a father this kills me every day. I want nothing more than to take the pain away and fix the problem but I am rendered helpless in all ways other than just being there for her.

3 years we had noticed slight changes in her behavior. Passed a lot of it off as its her being a teen. Her school marks started to drop a bit, again she is just being a teen.

Then she started dating. Quite a big step for a teen girl at the end of her grade 9 school year. Things were good at first then I noticed this boy was very controlling. I told my daughter what I thought and said keep your eyes open for red flags. That’s when the anger hit us. The over reacting over everything. The pulling away from friends and family. My wife and I sat up many nights talking about what was happening to our girl. Then BAM! The first break up. We knew this would be hard as it was for us too back in our teen years. But what we saw was something else. It was straight down. Crying and lashing out. Not leaving her room. School tanking big time.

My wife picked up on little things faster than I did which she is great with. I tend to let my emotions lead which makes me miss the little things. In talking with my wife and with my experience going through depression myself, it was time to go to the doctor.

We took her in and sure enough depression had a hold of her. Now recovery begins. She started taking anti depressants. Things slowly started getting better but until she had the right dose there was still rocky times. We had a few run aways, lots of screaming matches, and her becoming down thinking she was crazy.

Now let me tell you one thing, when your child runs away from you in a Costco parking lot, life sort of stops. I called my wife crying knowing I had just gave her crap for anger before I went into the store. This was my fault. I’m never going to see her again. The things that went through my head were endless. It took awhile but I found her. She told me things were just too much and she felt she needed to run. I don’t blame her at all. Depression is one of the hardest things a person can go through. Your head is foggy. Nothing seems right and you feel like you are not wanted.

After this day a breakthrough happened. She started opening up to dad. Now I was shocked it was me but quite happy she was talking. Things were worse than we ever thought. Many days were spent listening and trying to give advise.

I had lots of talks with her about my own experiences dealing with depression. I feel it brought us a little closer even though we still have our moments now. At the very least it showed her she isn’t alone. This effects many people and I showed this to her through groups and even on twitter. Blog reading helped a lot as well.

Fast forward 3 years. Depression really isn’t a factor any more. There still are down days but a lot of those are due to her anxiety and not the depression.

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Now anxiety is a whole other story. Anxiety runs her life. I have been talking and working with her for a long time on this but like everything unless you want it to end it never will. She is a very strong independent young lady. She knows the signs of her anxiety and a lot of her triggers but having to admit a way of thinking is wrong, like most teens, is her downfall. She feels like if she admits she is wrong she has failed and for her failing isn’t an option.

Que in test anxiety. School time brings a lot of volatile nights due to a big test coming up. She studies hard then gets completely focused on the fact she might fail and can’t sleep let alone function. The anger that come from this is huge. I try talking and getting her to cope but it is a slow process.

With life for her anxiety runs it by her way of thinking the worst is always going to happen and a lot of focus on the past without looking to the future.

Now for me I’m an A to B thinker. That’s it. I’m here and need to be there. For her to get from A to B usually hits C,D, and ends up on E. All 3 aren’t there but she seems to make them possibilities and completely misses out on where she needs to go. This is very hard to deal with as a parent.

For example. I want to go out this weekend with friends. For me it would be ok call them make plans and go. For her it’s I want this, they are probably working, no point on calling, anger because I’m doing nothing.

Now coping with depression, anxiety, and anger all go hand in hand. I have talks with her about staying out of your own head. Don’t answer for anybody in your head, ask them and wait. Keep looking forward and not in the past. Be your life’s tour guide not it’s road block. Your parents are here to help not hurt but anger and bad behavior will always have consequences weather here at home or out in the world. But the biggest one is you have to admit fault. When you admit you were wrong you don’t need to lie anymore. You can learn from it instead of hurt. It’s not a bad thing, we all make mistakes, lord knows I have made tons but it’s how we learn from them that’s important.

Also if you feel anger taking over, breath. Deep breaths help. Say I need a minute and take a break to recoup. Take time for yourself to relax. Anger brings on words we can never take back. It can ruin a lot of relationships.

The hard part is everything goes hand in hand. Depression brings on anger. Anxiety leads to depression. Anger brings out both. It’s still a work in progress for me and my daughter but the way she have persevered is amazing.

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We still have battles. We still fight but we have made huge strides forward. Dad is learning too. Things not to say or do to trigger her. I am changing myself as much as she is. I am very proud of the woman she has become. The hardest part is implementing coping techniques into every day life. I know this first hand as I have been there myself. She has made me a better dad once again through a very bad and dark time for her. She is almost there and I couldn’t be happier. I understand first hand what she is going through and don’t fault her for this at all. I still give her crap for anger, don’t get me wrong, but I also explain coping skills with it.

The future is very bright for my daughter and once the coping kicks in she will truly be free to enjoy life’s vast experiences.

I love my daughter with all my heart and would love to take the pain upon my self. She has done more for me in life than she will ever know. One day we will look back on this and laugh about butting heads.

If you yourself have suffered or have kids that do, know you aren’t alone. My daughter is and I have been through this. Please share your experience or just comment to show support for my girl. If you know coping skills that have worked for you, we are all ears.

Thank you for reading.