Many parents wonder why a child's life-threatening encounter with ketoacidosis would not be enough to scare them into taking better care of themselves and "appreciating the severity" of their disease.
A very dear friend of mine had a heart attack two years ago. It shook her and scared her to the core, and yet she said she was grateful for the experience because it made her realize how precious life was. As a result of this wake-up call, her diet and lifestyle completely changed. She cut way down on foods high in salt and fat, and began exercising. The fear of losing her life was fresh. But after six months or so, old habits came clawing back. As human beings, we cannot live in fear for long periods of time. The fight-or-flight response did an excellent job of keeping us alive back when lions regularly jumped out of bushes and tried to eat us, but studies (and real life experience) show that extended lengths of time living with fear-induced stress can lead to a whole slew of physical and emotional issues, from poor sleep and exhaustion to difficulty concentrating, anxiety, depression (and, for those of us with T1D, elevated blood sugars as a result of the release of sugar which we produce to be ready for fighting and/or “flighting”). So in the short term, fear can serve as a motivator, but it does come with a cost and it doesn’t last forever. As Gandhi said, "what is gained through fear lasts only while the fear lasts".
Stay tuned for part II next week on why adolescents struggle to learn from mistakes!