Friday, September 10, 2010

Ten is a Magic Number and When Girl's Brains Drain Like a Sieve

I've fallen off the blog for awhile, but I have a new mission and I welcome your help. My daughter just turned 10. She has been an amazingly compliant and helpful kids with diabetes. She knows more than most people about the disease and has always been very independent in her management.

On one of my previous posts, a reader told me to, "Let go. If you don't want Mutiny how about listening to your child instead of being a constant nag." Fair enough. My post was mostly sarcastic, but the fact is that every single day this week she forgot to take her insulin at one point each day, we ended up having lots of talks. I asked, "What would need to happen for your to remember to take your blood sugar and insulin?" She looked me in the eyes and said she honestly doesn't know.

I asked her what the benefits would be if she remembered and we talked about those. I also asked what the downside of not remembering is and we discussed all the ways that it sucks.

She is a SUPER kid. Bright, fun, loving, not rebelous at all, but she is just not remembering the task at hand. So I started asking friends about their girls, kids without diabetes, and it appears that 10 year old girls develop holes in their brains.

I did some more asking around, teachers of fith grade included, and they all agree that at this life stage, that self-centeredness abounds; that they really can't think the way they did even just a year ago, which explains a lot.

Another friend, who has a 10 year-old girl and a 12 year-old boy, told me he has been reading a book, Getting to Calm: Cool-headed Strategies for Parenting Tweens and Teens, which takes you into the emotional and mental world (brain) of our growing kids. I haven't read it yet and I tend not to enjoy books full of good advice (I read the first 30 pages of How to Tall, So Kids Will Listen. How to Listen, so Kids Will Talk about eight times). But here's what my friend, who has read a lot of it said.

He said that the girls at 10 are in a stage of "pruning and blooming." Their prefrontal cortext is said (simplified) to "orchestrate thought and action in accordance to internal goals." At this age, this is being "pruned," so to speak, meaning that developmentally, this part of the brain is somewhat out of order for a period of years often referred to by parents as teenage hell.

He said that beginning around age 10 for girls, they are very challenged at staying on track; starting one thing and moving to the next and then to the next. Diabetes is very much a series of steps that align with an internal goal of staying healthy and keeping mom out of her business.

So here is one scenario this week.

Snack time at school, 10:00 am
R: "Hi Mom, my blood sugar is 218.
Me: "OK, just please remember to put your blood sugar in your pump if it has gone off screen."
R: "Ok, Mom. I will. Love you. Gotta go!"

Lunch Time, 12:30 pm
R: Mom. Uh. Mmm. Uh, Mom? I don't know how this happened, but I'm 428.
Me: Ok. Did you take insulin for your snack?
R: Uh, I think so.
Me: Can you check your pump please?
R: Uh. Ok, hold on a sec. Mom? No.
Me: Ok. Didn't we talk at snack time? I believe you said you were 218. Don't you remember me telling you to be sure to put your BG in your pump?
R: Yes.

You know how the rest goes. Correction and everything is fine...until Wednesday. Same scenario, but she was at a friends house for dinner.

R: I'm 400.
Me: What did you eat?
R: Barely anything. A few crackers.
Me: Did you have milk?" She shakes her head, no. "Did you have any other carbs?
R: No...Oh! wait! I did have one of those, mmm, what do you call them? Mexican breads with the sugar on top?
Me: What kind of bread? Pan Dulce or the crispy ones rolled in sugar?
R: Uh. Those.
Me: Did you take Insulin?
R: I guess I forgot.

I am actually ok if she has a treat, but she knows full well, that that means she has to take care of that snack. She KNOWS this!

So, I need some strategies to help her remember, because it is obvious to me that everything has leaked out of her brain.

Today, I gave her a green rubber O-ring bracelet and told her that this is a physical reminder to take her blood sugar and take insulin. Her teacher is going to help remind her, but also give her something to tape to her desk which will remind her of these important tasks.

So, any advice you all have is welcome. I am totally willing to support her until her brain is whole again (18 or so they say), but finding ways that don't embarrass her, make her diabetes overt to anyone else and aren't hard for me to manage are the goal.