Back to Parents' Voices Janet E. Fitzpatrick
My daughter's name is Victoria. Scott and I have always called her either Victoria or Tori. Somewhere along the line she has decided to no longer correct people who call her Vicki and cannot understand why we cringe when she refers to herself in this name. Also about this same time she came to prefer the company of her stuffed animals, nail polish and CD collection within the four walls of her bedroom over that of her mom and dad and brother Kevin.

Eleven going on 21 -- and the dreaded development of adolescence! I've obsessed with the inevitable onset of puberty since TORI was born. I remember well the turmoil, self-righteousness, loneliness--the whole spectrum of those milestone years (yuck!) I remember, therefore, I am prepared (I believed)! Who was I kidding? I'm my mother all over again. Every snub is a knife in my heart. Every side-long, evil glare is taken as a personal attack on my intelligence. Puberty was a dark cloud threatening to reek havoc on our perfect little one-girl-one-boy-one-dog-one-cat-no money-for-Disney-again-who-cares-family life. And then, lo and behold, the initial sickness and the diagnosis of diabetes. The evening we rushed her to the hospital, never believing for an instant we would have her there "in time," I thought over and over, "my baby, my baby." It's been four months now, and I still think, "my baby, my baby." Where is she? Who is this aloof, somewhat tolerable of her parents, pre-teen?

All of a sudden she had this huge thing happen to her, and she didn't want (need?) my help. That was hard for me. And yet, I find myself pondering this 11 year old setting her alarm for 6:00 AM, waking before Scott and I, doing her morning glucose monitoring, preparing her shot and giving herself the first injection of the day. How can this girl who forgets her saxophone two out of three days a week, loses her house key once a week and leaves her only pair of boots at school right before winter recess possibly be responsible enough to manage a life-long process of monitoring, injecting, eating right, and exercising?

Then I think, maybe puberty is just as good a time as any in a kid's life to get diabetes. There's a lot of self-assertion (usually when it comes to staying up late or going to friends' houses) going on. And I can't think of a better example of independence than filling a syringe with life-sustaining medicine and injecting it into yourself. As far as learning to be responsible, well, there really is no choice is there? We have the whole health care team backing us up on our daily tirades on managing the disease (reinforcements we'll be thankful for when it's time for the alcohol, sex and drug lectures).

The bottom line is this: I'm proud of Tori. I think she's done an enormous amount of work in the last four months. I respect her because she doesn't use diabetes as a crutch or as an excuse to be lazy. I wish she would just open her bedroom door so I can tell her!!!

Janet E. Fitzpatrick

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Last Updated: Wednesday March 16, 2005 16:44:58
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