Since taking on this personal challenge to dissect my own diabetes history and get to the bottom of my long term denial, I have not been discussing any of it with my parents. This was partly due to the encouragement of my therapist, as she explained that this is about me and not my parents. That I need to work on my own feelings and not be so concerned about hurting their feelings or pleasing them. After the first session or two my mother tried to get me to open up to her over the phone and I shut the idea down. She tried to push further and I held my ground with conviction and confidence that was new to me. And since that time, they have kept their distance in regard to this issue. I think they recognized how desperately I needed this change and growth and were willing to respect my attempt to save myself.
I'm sure this was amazing hard for them, as I am an only child with an incredibly close relationship with both of my parents. I cannot recall a time in my life - especially one as difficult as this - that I have not shared with them.
So last night my mother lightly asked how I was doing. I could have said "fine" and moved on, but I felt I was at a good point in this journey and wanted to share. She put me on speakerphone so my father could listen, and I told them about how I had a follow-up with my doctor and my A1C went from 10.4% to 8.6%. That required me confessing that my A1C's were higher this past year than I had led them to believe. I told them that I applied for the pump and approved, so far. And how I was excited about it.
I talked about how some of my issues with food are likely related to my previous high blood sugars, and that some of my other issues with food may be related to the fact that I had to be so restricted at such a young age. Then that led to talk of how my diabetes care used to go.
Through all of these therapy sessions, I found myself trying to remember back to the time when I was in good control. I have absolutely no recollection of the time when my parents were REALLY involved in my care. I just remember getting diagnosed (when we were in Mexico...on 5/5/93 according to my dad) and learning shortly after that how to inject myself by practicing on an orange on the floor of my parent's bathroom. And crying for hours about it until finally just doing it and finding out out it wasn't that bad. Then the next memory I have is our move from Mexico to Florida about 2 months later. My father performing a glucose reading on me at 2am while I was asleep in our temporary apartment while we were looking for more permanent housing. I was 9. I don't remember anything else until roughly 4 years later, when my control started to wane. When I started menstruation. I remember my Endocrinologist explaining that glucose becomes harder to control with the storm of emotions brought on by periods.
And then I remember the struggles, fights, yelling, lying, sneaking, and crying that followed for years on end. The empty promises I made to work harder, the desperation in my parents' faces when they listened to my lies and looked at my sky-high A1C's and believe me when I told them that I was doing everything as I was told, and that the system was failing me. That I wasn't failing myself. But it was a little of both, I see now. I could have done way more, this is true. But the system DID fail me. When asked, my parents responded that psychology services were never suggested to them. My doctor knew I was lying to him, as I found out when I confessed everything in one of the first appointments I went to alone. That was not until I was 17. Why did he not ask my mother to step out of the room, even if for 5 minutes, from the beginning of those appointments to talk to me one on one? Kids are willing to be honest, just not with everyone.
Through my discussion with my parents, I learned that they had kept meticulous records of my readings for years. I don't doubt this, I just don't remember it at all. As I grew older and more independent, my parents allowed the responsibility to shift to me more and more (as was suggested).
At one point during this conversation, my mother got incredibly defensive. She was audibly upset and teary, and went on the usual speech about how she loves me more than anything and would do anything she thought was right for me, and I'll only understand that when I'm a mother myself, etc etc. She went on about how painful it is for her to go through this, and if she could go back in time to change things, she would. I put a stop to this immediately. I told her that this conversation is necessary because it is why I'm driving to Boca for an hour each way, every week, paying out of pocket to get to the bottom of where things went wrong. I told her that this is about me, not her, and that in order for me to heal I cannot get distracted by feeling the need to assuage HER feelings. I also told her that many diabetic children lie to their parents in order to protect them from difficult feelings and stress, and that I was done with that. My father also helped talk my mother down, being the more level-headed/rational one. It worked, and our words got through to her, and the conversation continued very calmly and productively.
Overall, I am very happy that this all transpired. It was difficult and exhausting, but ultimately cathartic. I feel like the last bit of the diabetes denial slate has been wiped clean.