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Question:

From San Antonio, Texas, USA:

My son is now approaching 19. He was diagnosed with diabetes at age 5. His health is now deteriorating; he takes insulin but his eating habits are real bad, since he refuses to eat any kind of meat, instead he consumes large amount of carbohydrates; can't find a job because of his long hair and beard; he dropped out of high school because he refused to cooperate with teachers. He recently was hospitalized with ketoacidosis. I feel helpless seeing him go downhill. I sent him to special schools, diabetes camp, counseling, etc.

He shows no interest. He had a few jobs, but gets always terminated after 3 or 4 weeks. He had two car accidents and is not able to drive at this time. Please send me some suggestions of what I can do at this stage.

Answer:

My heart really does go out to you. In my practice, I have seen this happen and can usually trace the behaviors back to a loss of self-esteem. I'm certain your son does not always know why he does these things.

Counseling is certainly the necessary intervention. You must have a counselor experienced in chronic illness and one with a commitment to children and teenagers. Like doctors, it may take several to find a "match" for your son.

The car accidents, ketoacidosis, etc. are all big red flags! You are wise to recognize this and you will have to be strong to move ahead. If it takes 10 tries, find a counselor who has the ability to help your son. Call the ADA, call the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, call other parents, but do not just throw in the towel. I had a patient once (same age) who left my office during a difficult session screaming, "I hate you!" A few minutes later he returned in tears saying, "I don't hate you; I hate diabetes." It was a turning point in that person's life. All the self destructive behaviors began to change. It had taken time to get to that moment and it took time to move forward. But it did happen. Don't give up.

CMB

Original posting 2 Mar 1998
Posted to Behavior

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:08:56
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