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Question:

From New Mexico, USA:

My niece is 10 years old and she has type 2 diabetes. She was diagnosed a year and half ago. She has blood-sugar levels that have been as high as 900+ and has been hospitalized repeatedly. She has almost died several times this year.

She has been ordered homebound by her doctor for the second time this year. She needs help. She is very obsessed with food. She steals food all the time. There are locks and bells on everything that contains food in everyone's houses and she still manages to get to things. She does not even seem to care that she is literally killing herself. When I talk to her about it, she rolls her eyes and turns away. Her pediatrician doesn't know what to do with her, and she is so sick all the time that she never makes it to her appointments to see her specialist. who is in another state.

She needs some intensive diabetic counseling. Mentally she just refuses to deal with what is happening to her.

There is no diabetic counseling here where I live. Can you please tell me where there is a clinic or anything where she could be admitted and given counseling? She needs round the clock care at this time. And she has to be watched very carefully.

Answer:

I can tell you are very concerned about your niece, and your concerns seem well founded.

It sounds as if your niece is battling an eating disorder and also feels hopeless in the face of her diabetes. She may indeed be experiencing a clinical depression (in which overeating may be both a symptom and a cause!)

Although I, personally, am not familiar enough with your area of the country to recommend a facility, I agree that this situation calls for intensive intervention. Dealing with a chronic condition like diabetes is one thing. But attempting to untangle diabetes, and psychiatric issues at the level of your niece's, requires a professional!

I would start locally with whatever hospitals and clinics are near you. Search without ceasing for a psychotherapist, psychiatrist, and/or Registered Dietitian (with psychiatric background), to assist you. If there is nothing locally, then search via the Internet for facilities designed for those with eating disorders. They do exist!

One additional comment: sometimes the behavior you are describing is linked to a nutritional deficiency or hormonal imbalance. A thorough medical evaluation is another route to take to help your niece.

There are several possible roots for your niece's actions. I realize that I am not able to "fix" it through this letter. Please, please, do not abandon your search for an answer. You are on the right track. Call the Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, the ADA, your local medical information number, your mental health association, and don't stop calling until you find a human being who can help you. Making your niece "homebound" is not going to get her anywhere. Seek a second opinion!

CMB

Original posting 18 Mar 1999
Posted to Behavior

  
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Last Updated: Tuesday April 06, 2010 15:09:02
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