Tuesday, August 21, 2007


"Mom," Joseph calls out suddenly from the back seat, as we finally begin the long drive home from camp.

"I want to be more responsible for my diabetes care."

"What do you mean, Bud?"

"You know, like do my own set changes."

I catch a glimpse of his earnest expression in the rearview, and am struck with an odd mixture of pride and sadness.

"Really? Are you sure you want to do those yourself-- the insertion, too?"

"Yeah, I do-- not alone, though... I mean... I want you to guide me through it and just... you know... be there."

"Sounds good to me," I tell him, the words catching in my throat.

Soon after his quiet declaration, he's sound asleep....

And then - two nights later - it's time for a set change.

Sitting at the kitchen counter, I pull out his supplies: a new cartridge, infusion set, an alcohol pad, IV prep, IV 3000 tape-- and a small vial of insulin.

Just as I'm about to tear cellophane, Joseph walks into the kitchen.

"No, wait-- Mom, I really want to do this myself.

"Oh-- sorry, Bud."

He drops down into the seat next to mine, and I hand him the cartridge, still in it's wrapper.

And then I take a deep breath and watch-- literally having to sit on my hands in order not to jump in and help him.

"That's it, just smack the cartridge with a pen to get the air bubbles out and- you're doing great, but slow down... take your time."

"I know what I'm doing, Mom," he says calmly, while turning the filled cartridge between his finger tips, looking for bubbles. "I've seen you do this like a million times, and I even did it at camp. It's okay."

And he's right.

Within five minutes, he's done.

"Terrific job, Bud," I say smiling.

"Thanks," he responds with a grin. Then he stands and is about to leave the kitchen when he suddenly turns toward me, holding up his left hand.

I slap it with my right, and for a moment, the tops of his fingers hold onto mine.

And then he's gone.

That was over two weeks ago, and since that day Joseph hasn't looked back -- hasn't asked me to do a single set change-- even when he's been tired or has had a friend over.

He just does it.


I'm so dang proud of him.

But at the same time, sadder each time I sit and watch him do this.

Crazy, isn't it?

After all, this is what I want for him-- I want him to be able to do this stuff on his own.

But still.

The endless set changes, the monitoring, the trying to interpret the numbers-- trying to discover what his body is doing -- the supplies-- God, all those supplies -- keeping track, paying for them -- and always, always being prepared...

At some point, he's not going to need or want me to do any of it for him-- he'll carry this burden alone.

And to be honest, I'm having a hard time dealing with that fact.


Scott K. Johnson said...

Great post Sandra.

That sword of independence cuts both ways doesn't it.

Kind of nice in one way, but scary in another.

But you know what? If it wasn't with diabetes, it would be some other part of watching kids grow up right?

That sword of independence swings at the strings that tie all kids to their parents. You just happen to have that "diabetes" string in there too...

Doesn't make it any easier though.

Michko said...

Oh man. I would have had to sit on my hands, too! They grow up way too fast.

Shannon said...

I TOTALLY know what you mean, Sandra. There's something about seeing them take care of themselves, doing things that most children don't ever have to do for themselves.

I think it's the complexity of management and the fact that they're so matter of fact about doing it that gets me.

Nicole P said...

Wow, Sandra, this post got to me.

I can remember very clearly the first time I gave a shot on my own. Like Joseph, once I started, I never looked back. Now I know how my mother must have felt - watching, worrying, thinking further into the future than my young mind was capable of thinking. Thank you for reminding me - again - the way I've shared this disease and how the supports in my life have lessened the alone-ness of it.

I hope that you have the same confidence I do that as much as the management, the day to day, the figuring are tasks we do on our own - we find our support systems - and we NEVER lose faith that our parents are there if we need them. I can't tell you the number of times I've called my mother to tell her something diabetes related - just to get it out, to ask for help. And I can't tell you how many times I've called on another person with d to guide me through rough spots.

Joseph is a very special young man - who will - who has, really - found supporters to help him along AND found the strength to help others along. He'll never be alone with this.

I'm proud of him. I'm proud of you. Sending you more good thoughts... :)

Vivian said...

Ok girlfriend, how many times are you going to make me cry? We want to protect them from the vastness of this disease for as long as possible and when they start taking over it is heartbreaking. The upside is that you have trained him so well. You still have lots of time to supervise and continue to educate him before he goes off to college and is truely on his own with it.
You are an amazing mom and he is an incredible young man, you will always have this unspoken bond. He will always turn back to you if he is uncertain. While my heart is breaking for you, I am so very proud of both you and your manchild.

Kelsey said...

You've prepared him so well Sandra!

What stood out to me in your post was how natural the progression was for Joseph to take more responsibility for his care. He was able to choose when and where to become independent, all the while knowing you were right there guiding him.

Like Nicole said, I appreciate this sentiment because it reminds many of us of what our moms went through seeing us tend to our daily care. Since I was 13 when diagnosed, my parents allowed me to be independent from the beginning, but I know it was very tough for my mom to watch.

I think you've given Joseph a great gift with your support and encouragement as he passes through this stage.

Scott said...

To some extent, thats what growing up is all about. Its always tough, but its also comforting to know that he's been trained how to handle things properly for himself. And you should know that while he'll do some of these things for himself, you haven't been removed from the picture altogether ... something (not necessarily d-related) will come up, and his need for you as a parent will emerge again.

Thanks for sharing!

Penny said...


You really are rolling out the tear-jerkers lately aren't you?

I went through this a couple of months ago when Riley wanted to start checking his own sugars. I was so proud and sad all at the same time.

The fact that Joseph feels confident stepping up and doing these things on his own just shows what an awesome job you've done guiding him.

cesnh said...

Joseph is a great kid - and you're a smart mom to allow him to make some of his own decisions. He will NEVER carry the burden alone, he will always have you and his dad to share the burden w/ him.

Rachel... said...

I agree with others that it's awesome, but also heartwrenching that he has to take the responsibility and that it's part of letting him grow up. Greg was 11 when diagnosed, so he took over his care right away with his parents' watchful eyes. And they keep watching now.

Molly said...


I second what Scott said. Great post! Exciting and scary at the same time.

Someday I hope that Joseph will be able to read all the posts that you've written. It will make him feel proud of all that he accomplished, and an understanding of what skills you helped him develop.

What a lucky boy!

Bernard said...

Oh God bless you Sandra

I can just imagine how you're torn up about this. But I'm not you and it's a lot harder for you than for me to just read about.

You are going a wonderful job and it must be unbelievably hard. I hope that He's watching over all of you.

George said...

I loved this Sandra. It helps me to understand what my mom went through.

Joseph is an amazing person.

Major Bedhead said...

O has gone back and forth with this, and Joseph may, too. She went to camp and came back gung ho to do it all herself, so I let her (overseeing, of course). But there are points when she wants me to resume doing all this stuff. I always take it over, sometimes happily, sometimes grumpy about it. Every time she takes back the reins, though, she takes a little more responsibility. It's hard, but it's comforting to know that I've taught her well but that she still occasionally needs me.

This was a great post.

Jillian said...

Another amazingly written post. I just wanted to thank you for the heartfelt welcome to the OC. It means alot to be able to help any one who is affected by this disease. I know your son will do just fine as a teenager with a wonderful mom like you!

jules said...

Self-control is the best thing you can hope for for someone like us - people with diabetes. After I was diagnosed I had to do everything myself and it's definitely affected the way I control my diabetes and my life. I know you want to help and jump in and take over but just sit back and watch him grow and learn it's a wonderful thing. By the way, what camp did he go to?

Naomi said...

It's so hard to let go! And in a way, you never will, you never can because he is still a part of you.

Deep breath. You are doing great.

My son rattles off the number of carbs he's about to have and I say, "wait, wait" while counting on my fingers and he says, "mom, I KNOW what I'm doing!" And he does.

LJ (too lazy to sign in lol) said...

I assume he's in school again.. how's that going this year?

Jenny said...

Hi, my name is Jenny and I'm a teenager with type 1 diabetes from California. This fall my dad and I are riding 70 miles through Death Valley to raise money for the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation (this is our 2nd ride, we rode 58 through Death Valley in May 2006 and raised $11,500 ). I'm looking for people to help sponsor me...even if it's $1! There are also other ways to help if you cannot donate money...all listed on my website under "ways you can help". Please visit my website to learn more:


If you would like to donate online, please go to this website: http://ride.jdrf.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=rideCentral.personalpag

I also made a youtube video about my fundraiser, so if you're interested in watching, here is the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GukbiGje6lA (it's a comedy)

Thanks so much for your time and for any help! Please email me with any questions (my email is on my website).
Please help me reach my goal of raising $15,000!! Thanks!

morefieldmom said...

My daughter, who is 17 an has type 1 came across your blog and sent me the link. I thank her, and I thank you. I have two children with type 1 and sometimes I just cry over how unfair it is to them. They got diabetes 6 weeks apart back in 1998...almost 10 years. Looking back I can see how time has healed us--it is still so hard (we are on shots, the pump is too scary)--but I remember so clearly when they came home from camp willing to give themselves their own shots and that feeling of pride and fear --a little sadness too-- mingled in me.

My family appreciates your honesty.

LJK said...

Is everything ok? Haven't updated in so long!

Sandra Miller said...

Thanks for all of the wonderful comments.


We're okay (thanks so much for asking).

An update is coming soon... I promise.

Miss. Diva Diabetes said...

So, apparently this post is from a while back. However, it reminds me about the strength of not only us (the kids with diabetes), but of you guys (the moms). I remember telling my mom I wanted to start doing my own injections, No more mommy shots, or counting before we poked, I wanted to do it on my own. I was 8. And also on my way home from my first year at diabetes camp. I can only imagine the thoughts running through my mothers head, and mothers minds, here they go, the little people, with a life long disease, and they want to take control. I know Id be afraid, almost like that was the last piece of the childhood she could hold onto for me. that was almost 10 years ago now. I can assure you though, even know you dont think we are looking back, we are. we remember the way you taught us how to do it just right, the ways you wiped away the tears of the first few times, the times we didnt want anyone else but mom. We remember, and we look back at it, and we will always need you guys. Even though it may not be to come prick a finger, or kiss a sure injection site, its still the comfort, just to know, that mom, is still there just in case. You sound like a awesome mom. =)