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Imiss16

Request Your Input: Adult Son Refuses to Take Care of His T1

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Imiss16

I'm the parent of a 20 year old son who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes two years ago when he was hospitalized for a week due to extreme symptoms.  He still lives at home - actually, he splits time between my home and his mother's home, one week at a time in each house.  He will be 21 this March.  He has a full-time job and pays minimal rent: $200/month to each parent, since he spends half time at each house.

 

Here is my dilemma.  He does almost nothing to take care of his diabetes.  He has access to excellent medical care and any medication he needs, at no cost to him (his parents are paying for his insulin, lancets, etc.).  He hasn't checked his blood sugar in months.  He takes insulin "by feel", without any sort of carb calculation at all and claims he "feels fine".  He refuses to see his doctor.  Now he's exhausted all his refills for Humalog and his doctor requires him to schedule an appointment for a checkup before he'll prescribe any more.  So far, my son has refused to schedule an appointment with the doctor and is getting by on just his Lantus.  He normally drinks diet soft drinks but otherwise eats a lot of fast food and generally unhealthy stuff unless it's prepared for him at home.

 

We've offered to cut his rent in half if he'll comply with a bare minimum care regime: check his blood sugar at least twice/day, see his doctor when required, and maintain an A1C of 9 or below.  He's chosen not to take us up on this offer.

 

It's destroying us, his parents, to watch him killing himself like this but we don't know how to change it (despite the fact that his Mom and I are divorced, we're unified in our desire to get him to take care of his diabetes).  The only reason we haven't taken the "tough love" approach and thrown him out is that we're afraid he'll stop doing even the minimum that he is now and end up back in the ER.  Is that what it's going to take?

 

I'd appreciate any insight and/or advice you can offer, as we're at the end of our ropes.

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funkynassau

I have no advice but it may be he has to end up in the hospital and be quite sick before it'll sink in that he has to take care of himself.  Sometimes doctors and nurses can get further with a reluctant patient than a parent can.  Good luck.

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Cora

I've got to agree with Nora on this one. Even though he doesn't act like it, your son is an adult. He is getting your undivided attention, though, by not taking care of himself. You cannot live anyone's life for them. I know it's hard, but you have to acknowledge that he is the only one who can control his diabetes for him and you are making it easier and easier for him to try to get you to take care of it. He gets half his rent back for checking his blood sugar? Man, could I have used that when I was paying my way through university.

 

Sorry, but by being police officers in his life, you make it that much easier for him to slack off. He feels justified in rebelling against your pressure. Help him, by all means if he gets into trouble (like hospitalization or unconsciousness/injury or whatever) but trying to bribe him to take care of himself might work if he was 2 years old. At 20, it makes no sense.

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ant hill

Other than what has been said, the ultimate goal is to see a Endocrinologist as they can give him better information of this Disease.

Control is everything!!! And what is Control is getting the Blood Glucose to as near as you can get to 6MMOL/L or 108MDGL. Diet however is Low Carb But a better understanding of foods in what it can do for you.

Vegetables is a good foods as I still think it's a Superfood!!! especially Leafy Green foods as it's rich in Vitamin K!!

See the Doctor to get a referral to a Endocrinologist!!

 

The best of luck.

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meyery2k

Imiss - I am going to go out on a limb here and offer some tough advice.  Before I do, please understand that it is being given with compassion and empathy.  In some ways I can identify with both sides.  I am a 50 year old man that would not see the doctor for many years.  I am also a parent with grown children.

 

Last year, finally, I went to the doctor and turned things around.

 

Speaking as a parent, at 20 years old, your son is an adult and now is the time to learn that every action has consequences.  Offering carrots to do things he should already be doing will not teach this.  I also believe it causes the loss of respect in the children's eyes.  I love my children.  They know I would give the shirt off of my back to help them.  They also know I expect them to manage their own lives.  You don't need a lecture so that is the end of this train of thought but, I will share candidly why I would not go see the doctor and what I put my family through in the hope it might offer some insight.

 

I would not visit the doctor for a simple checkup.  I was stubborn and foolish.  I was also frightened because I knew there were things wrong with me.  My friends and family begged me to see the doctor.  I would shine everyone on and not go.  Like an alcoholic or a drug addict, I would not visit the doctor and no one would make me until I chose to go.  I am a well read and intelligent person.  I knew some of the things that were wrong with me and, in spite of knowing the consequences of ignoring them, chose to not see the doctor or even try to.

 

Even that final choice to go was difficult.  My youngest daughter and I are particularly close.  She implored me many times to see the doctor.  She finally got tired of my excuses and called a doctor that was advertising for new patients.  She made an appointment for me.  She knew I would go because, in my OCD world one does not make appointments and then not carry them out.  Frankly, that was an eye-opener for me.  I was ashamed she had to do this and I then committed to doing this and doing it fully.  Even though this is a happy ending the ultimate decision to go, or not go, was mine.  That was my thought process at the time.

 

Knowing my daughter, I can certainly say she did this to provide me the chance to either do or do not.  If I chose to not go, should would still love me but I know she would wash her hands of the situation because she tried her best.

 

There is no doubt that you love your children.  I think the best thing you can do is provide the opportunity to see the doctor.  Maybe even schedule an appointment and see if it comes to fruition.  If it does not, then the choice has been made and as a parent all you can really do is be there to offer as much support as you can should further negative consequences develop.

 

Your son choosing to not go to the doctor is not a reflection on your skills as parents.  At 20 years old, he is capable of making these decisions.

 

Another possibility might be to have your son check us out.  Perhaps communicating with people that actually have dealt with this for a long time will help him.  He might even make a friend or two here.

 

Please do let us know how things go.  As a parent, I truly understand how difficult it is to watch this.  Unfortunately, my son is where I was.  He should see the doctor and won't.  He needs to get a handle on diet and exercise.  I hate to see this because I see where I was but I also know that he is the only person that can make the choice to change.  At this point, I try to be an example and show him what he could be if he is willing to step out of his zone. ~ Mike

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DeusXM

It's not your responsibility to manage his diabetes.

 

Having said that, I'd actually take the opposite approach to what you've suggested. Don't 'reward' him for managing his diabetes, punish him for not. Tell him his rent's doubled if he doesn't sort himself out and that might wake him up a bit.

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moe22

I agree with DexusXm , you're son is an adult , it's not you're responsibility ; believe me I 'm kinda going through the same here I also live with my parents ( their NOT divorced) & it's hurts me to see them eat cabs , sweets etc. ( of which I not immued to either by no means) . I've tried to help them ; (but it's just like beating you're head against a brick wall) & after about 5 yrs I gave up ( course I had a slight advantage I took classes about 16 yrs ago) & now X # of years later it getting kinda of easier ( some days it'''' still over whelm me though) because I realized the more you try the more that they resent  it ( just try to understand the words of the Serenity prayer ( Lord help me to change the things I can & accept the things   I can't & the wisdom to know the difference)  & I also like John Schroeder suggestion

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mystiquarte

I was studying psychology when my son was little and had studied Skinner's Operant Conditioning theory which fascinated me, by the time my son reached the terrible two's I was ready to try it out and to my amazement, it worked!  Operant Conditioning, simply put is rewarding the behaviour you'd like and offering positive reinforcement so when you offer a reward for the behaviour you'd like to continue he is receptive to it because of the positive cognitive association.  You can see it on a House episode...
House episode 10 season 7 'Carrot or Stick' if you can get your hands on it, watch it and there is a big bang theory episode where sheldon trains penny which uses the same theory.

good luck, parenting can be tough no matter what the age group you may just find, as I did, that you had success with some really cool psychological theories

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TheBigNewt

My guess is he'll end up in a hospital in DKA if he doesn't take enough insulin. He'll run out of Lantus refills eventually. Maybe that will get his attention. We have a good friend with a 28 year old daughter Type 1 (since age 5) who doesn't check her BS too much and eats semi bad, weighs over 200 lbs, etc. But at least she takes her insulin regularly and rarely gets low. But your son sounds way more extreme than her to me. I'm not going to try and phychoanalize the situation either.

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Carol_42

Imiss16.  Greetings and hugs to you and your family.  Please listen to Mike and make an appointment for your boy, but don't double the rent.  

Carol 

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ant hill

All I would do is to arrange a meeting with a T1 much like him, as then he may listen to what needs to be done. His future will not be nice at all as Complication will make life difficalt especially in the US.

So go with him to a doctor or Endo!!! and get him to a meeting with another T1 as then he may feel better. Get him to know of this site.

Good Luck.

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mom24grlz

 I just want to say i'm sorry you're going through this. I know that even though he's technically an adult he's still your child and you want to take care of  him. Also the brain isn't fully developed until age 25, so please keep this into consideration " The rational part of a teen's brain isn't fully developed and won't be until age 25 or so. In fact, recent research has found that adult and teen brains work differently. Adults think with the prefrontal cortex, the brain's rational part."-https://www.urmc.rochester.edu/encyclopedia/content.aspx?ContentTypeID=1&ContentID=3051 .  Ashleigh just turned 18, so we're entering the young adulthood too. AT this point i still help with her care. I go over her meter every night to make sure she is testing at least 4 times a day. I also do overnight checks on her.  Overnight checks are a personal decision. Some people choose to do them some don't.  Ashleigh does not feel her lows and she is a very deep sleeper and has never in the 7 years with Type 1 woken at night from a low.  She does wear a CGM, is that something your son would consider?  The CGM would require him to calibrate at least twice a day. Right now i'd say i do 25% of the care and Ashleigh does 75% of her care.  

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lgvincent

I went through a period of time I was in denial after I developed Diabetes.  I rarely checked my sugar, I did take insulin though but didn't bother to attempt to match the dose with what I ate.  I sincerely hoped that if I ignored the disease, I wouldn't have it.  I can't say how long this period lasted but I'd say it was at least a year, possibly two.  I don't know what happened but I finally realized that I was responsible for taking care of myself and no matter how much I hated it, the disease had a lot of influence in my life.  Perhaps he's going through this denial as well.  True, I had the disease about 10 years before I went through this but I guess people respond according to their own personality. 

 

While I can't be certain, perhaps in time he will come to realize that if he is going to survive, he's got to cooperate with the disease rather than fight it although he can fight complications but he must make the effort if he to succeed with that. 

 

I can't say what finally got me to working within the limitations of Diabetes but it did happen.  Perhaps if he talked with others in the community who have diabetes there would be some benefit.  There are groups comprised of Diabetics who meet in various places, perhaps he could try going to a few of them if there are any nearby.  Taking part in other social groups might benefit as well since it may help him to realize that he must take special consideration to the disease and he could possibly meet other Diabetics or make friends with people who have a close association with Diabetics. 

 

There's no easy way through this and I can't really offer much other than to tell you how I came to terms with the disease.  It was my meeting with other friends that helped me realize that I had a disease that had an influence on my behavior, no matter how much I tried to ignore or deny it.

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