My husband and I are the parents of a teenager with Type 1 Diabetes.
That can be hard. It’s not like diabetes lets you take a break. There is no remission. There is no cure. There is only treatment: 24/7. And the game plan can change in an instant when the insulin pump’s power button quits working or TheKid gets a touch of a stomach virus.
There is one thing, though, that makes it clear that we’re the right people for the 24/7 job of caring for our diabetic teen.
We know how to look for patterns.
Diabetes is all about patterns. When you do x, you expect y to follow. When z follows instead, you need to examine whether you really did do x, or if q happened to get in the way.
I used to test educational software. Testing software is all about patterns. It’s also about remembering what you did 2 or 3 steps ago, because you need to examine if doing that caused this to happen.
Hubs is a computer programmer. See above. Plus, he majored in meteorology in college. Patterns all over the place.
Hubs and I learned, practiced, and taught Natural Family Planning. NFP is all about observing and recording patterns of things that happen in your body.
All of this pattern-noticing is a lot more critical when it comes to diabetes. There’s not a lot of room for error. You can’t just release a new version, like you can with software. You don’t get to start fresh next month like you can if you mess up your NFP chart, and if you mis-read your chart, well, we all know how that might turn out, and it’s not a terrible thing.
Too much insulin, though, can be fatal. Quickly. Too little insulin can have long-term consequences. The balancing act is a lot more critical. But we notice enough patterns to have figured out the times of day when TheKid needs more insulin to do the same job, and when he needs less, and what to do when he eats a crazy-high-carb meal from Chick-Fil-A.
A good portion of TheKid’s care depends on our ability to notice patterns and make judgments based on those patterns–but not to be so locked in that we automatically expect y to happen when we do x. Sometimes, we get j instead, and no one can figure out why.
There are plenty of times when we feel like this is above our heads. But we get some of our confidence in helping TheKid manage diabetes from our ability to note, record and compare patterns.
If that old adage, “God doesn’t call the qualified; he qualifies the called” is true, he’s been qualifying us for nearly three decades to do the delicate work involved in parenting our youngest child. I find that comforting.