Creating a 504 plan for children with type 1 diabetes.

504 plan for back to school

Sending a child with diabetes back to school can be a stressful event. You worry about the care your child will receive. Will the staff know anything about diabetes care? Will they understand high or low blood sugars and how they impact your child? The best way to alleviate your fears is to make sure that you have a 504 plan in place to outline everyone’s roles and responsibilities.

What is a 504 Plan?

If you live in the United States of America and are sending your child with diabetes to a publicly funded school, you should have a 504 plan in place.  According to Crystal Jackson of the American Diabetes Association, “schools typically respond to news of a student’s diagnosis by requesting a copy of the doctor’s orders for the child or the child’s diabetes medical management plan (DMMP), a document that outlines not only doctor’s orders concerning diabetes management but also other school-relevant issues, including how skilled the child is with blood sugar checks and other care tasks.”  She further reminds parents to check to see if their school has its own health forms that need to be completed by your child’s diabetes team.

Whether your child is newly diagnosed or returning to school for another year, you have a right to request a 504 plan which will spell out the school’s responsibilities for helping your child manage his/her diabetes care during the school day.  To do this, send a formal request to the school principal or designated 504 coordinator.

Once the meeting is set, you will want to draw up your own 504 plan.  There are many templates available online including ones from www.childrenwithdiabetes.com

What should you include in your 504 Plan?

creating a 504 plan for a child with diabetes. Diabetes Advocacy

In your plan, you will want to include things like:

  • Providing for extra snack times
  • Allowing extra time to finish a test when class time was missed because of taking care of a diabetes-related task
  • Checking blood glucose levels before and during exams
  • Not being penalized for diabetes-related absences
  • Specific locations for blood glucose checking and insulin injection(allowing the child to check/inject in the classroom if he/she prefers)
  • Having a buddy system in place to ensure that the child never goes to the nurse’s office alone
  • Specific guidelines on who will train staff on diabetes care, insulin and glucagon use
  • Information on how supervisions for field trips will be addressed
  • Guidelines for handling school parties and snacks
  •  Information on dealing with diabetes and supply teachers
  • Other age-appropriate accommodations like carb counting and assistance interpreting blood glucose readings for younger children
  • Juice or glucose tablets should always be wherever your child is
  • Check blood glucose levels before intense physical activity
  • The range in which your child can participate in physical activities. Note when your child is too high to participate and what you consider to low to be active.
  • Unrestricted access to water and washrooms
  • A time to speak to fellow classmates about living with diabetes and what they need to know to best help their fellow student

To learn more about how to prepare for a 504 meeting, read our ebooklet.

Who can administer insulin and glucagon in school?

administering insulin and glucagon in school Diabetes Advocacy

Depending on the age of your child, when sending them back to school with diabetes, you may be wondering one of two things—Who can administer insulin to them during school hours? And who will administer Glucagon in an emergency situation? The answers to those questions depend on where you live.

Administering Insulin and Glucagon in the United States

If you live in the US and have a school nurse, it will be the nurse’s responsibility to assist with diabetes care.  He/she will also be responsible for the administering of Glucagon via injection or nasal spray.

If your school does not have a nurse, the American Diabetes Association states that you still cannot be made to go to school to care for your child’s diabetes.  The school must arrange for the training of staff members in necessary diabetes procedures like insulin injection and glucagon administration.

Administering Insulin and Glucagon in the United Kingdom

If you live in the United Kingdom, the situation is quite similar to the United States.  There is usually a pediatric diabetes specialist nurse assigned to the child with diabetes who will be responsible for care. Other staff members may be asked to support a child with diabetes but must first be trained.  Training usually will be done by a pediatric diabetes specialist nurse.  Once trained, staff members will be able to assist with both insulin injections and glucagon administration.

Insulin and Glucagon administration in Canada

In Canada, schools for the most part, no longer have full-time nurses.  In most districts, the injection of insulin falls to the parents.  They must either arrange someone to come to the school or do it themselves if the child is not old enough.

There are some provinces that do offer assistance, however.  Outside nursing services can sometimes be utilized to assist with the diabetes care of small children.  To find out the policy of your province, see our school policy section.

The administering of glucagon also depends upon where you live.  There are some boards that allow for a staff member to be trained in the administering of glucagon for emergency situations.  There are other boards however who are not as accommodating. Often when speaking with school staff, you will find someone who will gladly take on this responsibility.

What can you do?

No matter where you live, you should make sure to meet with the school staff before sending your child with diabetes back to the classroom. At that time, you can address the issue of insulin injections and the use of glucagon. Some staff may already be familiar with diabetes care or simply want to go that extra step to care for your child when they are at school.

Learn how to prepare for your first school meeting with our back to school ebook.

Mothers Day Ideas for Diabetes moms

It is May once again and that means Mothers Day will soon be here!

Finding the perfect Mothers Day gift can be a huge challenge. I often struggle to come up with the perfect idea for my mom and have an even harder time when my kids ask me to come up with ideas for their diabetes mom. 

This year I thought I would give you a few gift ideas that I think mothers with diabetes and mothers of children with diabetes might truly enjoy.  Whether you have a lot to spend or nothing at all, here are things that Mom is sure to love!

Myabetic

Myabetic bag

Myabetic has incredible bags and accessories for people living with diabetes.  You can scroll through many amazing styles and designs.  One is bound to be just perfect for your special diabetes mom!

Tah Handcrafted Jewelry

Tah ring

I love this place.  Years ago I purchased an awareness ring and the customer service was fantastic.  A quick scroll through their Facebook page shows that they are still producing gorgeous items that will definitely appeal to your mom.

Sugardrop Sweetwear

sweat shirt

Sugardrop is a great clothing line started by an inspirational young woman with diabetes. Get Mom a fun hoodie or tshirt that she will love! This one is on my wishlist!

Spa Day for your diabetes mom

spa day

Whether you send Mom for a day of pampering or create one yourself, Mothers Day is the perfect time to remind Mom to take time for herself. 

Tea or Wine Time

give wine

Find Mom that perfect mug or glass and allow her to fill it with the beverage of her choice.  Whether she is a tea drinker, a coffee lover, or enjoys a lovely glass of wine at the end of the day, pick up a special treat for her and allow her the time to truly unwind with it.

Book Lovers Heaven

diabetes books

If Mom is like me, you can never go wrong with a book. Find her a great new read (we have some awesome ones here) or give her a gift card and allow her to choose one of her own. Once again, make sure that you also help your diabetes mom to have some private time so she can enjoy her new book and recharge herself.

Coupons are a great gift for the diabetes mom in your life.

coupons are a great gift for diabetes moms

Give Mom coupons for things like a night of uninterrupted sleep when someone else will handle the diabetes care.  Give her a coupon for a lunch made just for her by you. Think of other tasks that Mom could use a little help with and add them in as well.  Allow her to redeem the coupons on days when she just needs a little break.

Time with you is the best gift for any mom.

time together with your diabetes mom is the best gift

This honestly is the absolute best gift of all.  Plan a day with Mom or even just a few hours.  Make it all about both of you! Schedule a walk in the park, take in a movie or meet for a coffee.  Time for just the two of you to make memories will be the best gift you can give.

What is your favourite Mothers Day memory? Which gift stands out in your mind? We’d love to know!

19 years later and the guilt remains

feeling guilty Diabtes Advocacy

I found this photo the other night. It was tucked away in an album I had created for my son when he was just a baby. There were sweet memories and even a bit about the time he spent in the hospital after his diagnosis with type 1 diabetes.  When I saw this photo however I wanted to cry. I felt so terribly guilty.

It has been nineteen years since this photo was taken.  My son is now a  strong young man living on his own.  The years have brought both of my children many challenges in their short lives and the way they have handled them makes me proud. Looking at this photo, however, cuts me to the core. How did I not see?

When I posted this photo to social media someone commented that the boys looked happy.  Another person commented on how cute they were.  I was struck by how thin my youngest was.  His little face was hollow looking.  His eyes seemed to be sunken in his small head. How did I miss that?

My youngest was always the slimmer of the two boys. He was born a pound lighter than his older brother.  Throughout his life, he has always managed to remain slim. Looking at this photo though, he was beyond slim.  As some would say, he looks poorly.  He has a sickly pallor behind the glimmer in his eye. Why didn’t I see that then?

I now know that his body was eating itself to survive. He was just making enough insulin to keep himself out of the hospital. I know that holiday treats and Christmas dinner must have been hard on his small body.  His blood sugars would have been skyrocketing out of control.  No one was stopping them.  No one was helping his tiny little body to work properly. What sort of parent was I?

I made sure that my children ate very few preservatives.  I attempted to keep my them safe from toxins.  While I thought I took good care of them, this picture suggests otherwise. Somehow I missed this. I didn’t see him fading before my eyes.

19 years ago this picture was taken.  I thought that I was long past the feelings of guilt and sadness. It would appear I was wrong.  An image of two sweet, small faces smiling from under a Christmas tree brought it all rushing back.  This picture of innocence has unleashed a flood of reprimands for my former self.

This is why parents of children with diabetes don’t need society to blame us for our child’s diagnosis.  Years later, we can still berate ourselves for what we didn’t do.  We can still cry over the fact that we failed to protect our children from their own bodies…even when it really isn’t our fault. We still feel guilty.

Make sure that you know the signs of type 1 diabetes. 

Six Tricks to Enjoy Halloween with diabetes.

trick or treating with diabetes
from Charles Schultz

It is that time of year again, time to get ready for the Great Pumpkin and all of the fun…and anxiety that Halloween can bring many parents. For those families dealing with diabetes for the first time, it can be a challenge to figure out how to handle Halloween with diabetes.

Children are invited to Halloween parties.  There are Halloween events at school and there is the inevitable night of trick or treating.  What do you do with all of that sugar?? Well here are a few things that have helped some parents get through.

Eat while they walk

Its okay to let your child eat candy while he/she is out trick or treating. In fact, go ahead and encourage it (as long as usual Halloween safety rules are applied of course–Mom/Dad checks candy or it is from the home of a good family friend).  All of the walking, running and general excitement will most likely lead to some serious low blood sugars.  You can help to avoid this by letting your child eat the bars, rockets (Smarties for my US friends) and other treats. Your child will feel “normal” and it will be a fun way to keep blood glucose levels in range.

Halloween treats are great from treating lows when you have diabetes

Halloween is the perfect time to stock up on low supplies. It offers fabulous 15-gram packs of sugar just perfect to carry in your bag and treat lows. In fact, even if your child doesn’t take part in Halloween events, you may want to head to the grocery store during this time to grab a few bags of low treats and save a few dollars! They tend to be a lot cheaper than buying glucose tablets from the grocery store.

halloween treats at meals
Make Halloween treats part of a meal

If you like to stick to a set meal plan, you can still add in some of your child’s Halloween treats. A bag of chips is equivalent to a bread exchange. A snack-sized chocolate bar is the equivalent of a fruit exchange.  For a treat, allow your child to have one of their Halloween items as part of a meal or snack.

Buy the candy back

Some families offer their children cash for their candy.  The children can then take the money that they earned collecting candy to purchase a book, game or favourite toy.  Mom and Dad can take the candy to work or save it to enjoy during some downtime when the kids are in bed!

The Great Pumpkin can make it fun to enjoy Halloween with diabetes

Have the Great Pumpkin or Halloween witch come to visit.  Much like buying the candy, parents will exchange the candy while the child sleeps.  In place of their loot, the child will receive a movie pass, book or other treats that don’t involve food.

Donate extra Halloween candy

Yet another way for our children to learn care and compassion is to take their candy to a local hospital or hostel. Have them share their candy with children who are unable to go out for Halloween.

Halloween is often a fun time for children. Remember that children with diabetes are children first.  Use some of the tips above to ensure that your child has a fun and memorable Halloween or let us know what works for you in the comments!

6 tricks to enjoy Halloween with diabetes Diabetes Advocacy

Looking for help to organize your life with diabetes? Check out the Diabetes Advocacy Diabetes Planner.

Summer Vacation and Shared Parenting

shared parenting

In June of 2011, I was stressing out. My son was finishing up the school year and preparing to head away for a few weeks with his father.  His care was notoriously lacking when he went away.  I was stressed to the max. His insulin needs were less and less. Despite my best efforts at reducing carb to insulin ratios and turning down basal rates, he was still going low.  I wasn’t sure how I would handle it.

You can read all about it here

But guess what? We survived. He did and I did.  He was 13.  The burden of care fell 80% to himself.  His father and brother helped out with site changes.  His father did some of the night-testing.  I worried. I learned to live without diabetes for a few weeks but we survived!

Here are a few things that helped deal with shared parenting a child with diabetes.

Two types of calls

We had two types of phone conversations. “How are you? Are you having fun?”, was the first call. This was the start of all conversations.  Diabetes could not take a front seat unless there was an emergency.  He had to be a child first.

At a set time, however, was the second type of call.  This was a diabetes conversation.  This involved having a meter out,  sharing readings, what he was doing and why a high or low could have occurred. These were strategy sessions…and much shorter than a regular call.  My son didn’t want to be bothered by mom’s nagging or diabetes but he also knew that it had to be done. My concession was to make it short.  I gathered data quickly and offer suggestions.

Seven years later, parents can now get real-time data through sharing apps on the Dexcom and there are even a few hacked Libre sharing programs that can be used.  This can definitely help to ease a parent’s mind but remember not to become obsessed by the numbers. This leads us to another thing that can be hard to remember.

Different doesn’t mean bad

I think that this can be the greatest challenge when joint parenting a child with diabetes.  Whether you are divorced, separated or living in the same household, often there can be different opinions on diabetes care.  A reading that you feel is high and needs immediate attention may a number that someone else is okay with because they know that there is a very active afternoon planned.

Try not to freak out every time the other person does it differently.  Different means just that…not the same way you would handle it.  The biggest rule is “Does different endanger the life of your child?” If not then bite your tongue, let your child enjoy their time with the other parent and say a quiet prayer of gratitude when your child comes home healthy and happy.

Adjust basal rates accordingly

When my son would spend time with his father, he would spend most of his time on the go.  He would be catching up with old friends. He would be on quad or spending the day at the beach. There would be late nights and later mornings.

Before he would go away, I would make small tweaks to his basal rate to allow for an increase in daily activity and a decrease in morning activity. I allowed him to run a little higher than I would if he was with me because I also knew that he wouldn’t test or correct as often as he would if Mom was there to ask “did you check lately?”

Take some time for you

As much as you will stress and worry, this is your time off.  Diabetes has left the building.  Allow yourself to rest and regroup.  Spend some time with yourself.  Enjoy restful nights.  Read a book.  Go out with friends.  Do anything that makes you truly happy because no matter how you feel about the child’s other parent…that parent loves your child as well.  They will do their best to take care of your child and leave he/she with great summer memories so make some awesome memories of your own.

When you are reunited with your child, you will both be ready and recharged for all that diabetes throws at you!

18 years of life with type 1 diabetes

18 years have passed since my son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes and still, I remember it like it was yesterday. March 17, 2000.

The day started out sunny but by the end of it a horrible storm would hit my world and nothing would ever be the same.

We drove through a raging snowfall to take my lifeless 2-year-old son to the hospital.  There we were told that he had Type 1 diabetes.  They would monitor him for the next 24 hours to see if he would live or not.

Thankfully he survived that day but the fear never left me.   Before we left the hospital I was terrified of taking him home. I worried that I would make an error in his insulin and cost him his life.

When we got home, I did make mistakes.  Because he was so young, he didn’t know how to tell me if he was high or low. We didn’t have continuous glucose monitors then either.

If he fell asleep, I would panic.  The glucometer would be taken out before anything else.  I would clean his tiny finger, get a drop of blood almost as big as the pad of that finger, and apply it to a test strip.  30 seconds later I would finally learn if he was low or simply a toddler in desperate need of a nap.

Over the years he would learn to tell me if he was high or low.  His attitude would sometimes tell the tale for him.  When he short-tempered and trying to kill his brother by throwing things at his head, he was definitely high!

Eventually, he learned how to tell if he was low.  He would come to me and say he felt “weazy” and needed some juice.

We moved from injections to an insulin pump by the time he was 5.  My family couldn’t handle seeing him sitting by himself eating meals at set times when there was a better way. They helped us to pay for that first Cozmo insulin pump.

Our life was changed when his pump arrived.  No longer did we have to deal with 6-8 injections per day.  I was able to allow him to graze.  This was an incredible freedom for a small child and mom.

Puberty came with its own challenges.  The teen years were much like those of children without diabetes.  There were good times and bad.  Somehow we made it out alive and that is more than can be said for some children with diabetes.

My son is now 20 years old.  He has lived with diabetes for 90% of his life.  That makes me want to cry.  90% of his life has been dealing with injections, infusion set pokes. finger lancing, carb counting, high blood sugars and lows.  He has learned how to workout while managing diabetes  He goes out with his friends at night and as a few drinks all while dealing with insulin, test strips and diet.

My son works in the construction industry and must keep his pump warm when temperatures dip to below -30C.  He manages to test and combat lows all while wielding a hammer and trying to get his work done.

He lives thousands of miles away.  His roommate has known him his entire life.  They watch out for each other.  He knows about my son’s “broken pancreas”.  I wish that neither of them ever had to learn what diabetes was or how to handle it but life had other plans.

18 years.  It amazes me and saddens me.  I am so blessed to have a strong, young man who is still doing so well after all of these years.  It fills me with gratitude to think of all of the love and support that has guided me on this journey.  I still wish that he didn’t have to be on it.  I can’t believe that 18 years have passed already.

18 is just a small blip in his life.  I look forward to watching the next 18 years and another 18 after that.  Who knows what technology will have in store for him then.  Perhaps he will live to say “I used to have type 1 diabetes but now I don’t”.  I certainly hope so.

Planning on moving to insulin pump therapy? Download our ebook for great tips and things to think about when meeting a pump rep.

What a parent of a person with diabetes wants their child’s significant other to know

what we want in a partner of a person with diabetes

As a parent, there are certain things that I want my son’s significant other to know about diabetes.  My son’s list of important qualities and things that she needs to know is probably quite different.  That list is for another time. This is my list of ideals wants in a partner for a person with diabetes.

I want her to know when my son’s blood glucose levels are out of whack.

In school, he often had teachers who just “knew” when he was out of range. I felt safe because they would make sure that he checked his blood glucose levels and took care of himself.  A partner of a person with diabetes ideally should make a parent feel the same way.

I want her to know to carry glucose with them at all times.

carrying diabetes supplies

A low blood glucose level can seemingly come out of nowhere.  My son keeps some treats on him but we all know how easy it can be to run out at the most inopportune moments.  His ideal partner, for me, would be a gal who recognizes this and carries a bag filled with candies easily accessible in her purse.

My son would be happy if she carried all of his supplies in her purse too but as I said, that’s a different wish list.

I would love to see his lifelong partner remind him to test at night or at least wake him when he seems restless and out-of-range.

My son doesn’t currently have a CGM.  He once relied on his mother’s inability to sleep to keep him safe overnight.  Now that he lives on his own, he wakes himself at night to test.  I know that he would love to have a break now and again.  A person who would help him at night would be a blessing for both of us.

I want to see his partner know how to help him on days that diabetes is too much.

As much as helping my son at night would be wonderful, we all know that there are days that we just don’t want to diabetes.  When he lived at home, my son would some days just simply hand everything over to me for a day and I would deal with it.  I would count carbs, bolus and test.

I don’t know if he would still want that sort of full-on break but I know he still prefers someone else to put in new infusion sets.  It would be nice to know that she cared enough to learn about his care and help him where he needed it.

I want her to know that diabetes is part of his life but it isn’t what defines him.

Finally, as much as diabetes can be overwhelming and time-consuming, it doesn’t define my son.  I would love to see his life-partner understand this.  I want her to love him for the incredible, handsome, quirky guy he is.

Diabetes is a lot of hard work.  I want her to understand this but not be deterred by it.  It will mess with their schedule.  It may impact his mood but he is strong and deserves only the most loving and supportive partner.  In return, she will get a pretty amazing guy.

What Parents of Children with Diabetes Wish You knew…

parents of children with diabetes

Have you read the blog post “What Everyone with Diabetes wishes you knew“? Go and read it if you haven’t. Bring tissues.  After I wiped away the tears, I began to think about “what parents of children with diabetes wish you knew.”  Some of us don’t have diabetes ourselves but we still have very strong feelings about the issue.  As parents of people with diabetes, we have things that we wish our children knew.  There are also things that we wish that the general public knew.

Parents of children with diabetes wish that the our children with diabetes knew that….

time together

We would take this disease from them in a heartbeat…a heartbeat.

With every tear that they shed,  we have privately cried  a hundred more… We didn’t want you to see how much it hurts us to hurt you.  We told you that we do this to keep you healthy and alive (and we do) but it kills us too.

No matter how old you are, we still want to “make it better”. Seriously.  Still.

We know that you can handle it.  We just wish that you didn’t have to…As parents of children with diabetes, when we were completely responsible for your care, we got tired and wanted a break. We understand that you, as the person with diabetes must feel the same way at times. We wish we could carry the burden for you.

Even when we don’t ask you how your readings are, we are still wondering if they are okay…

We know that you are more than a number.  As parents of children with diabetes, we understand that blood glucose levels are only part of the story but we want you to be okay.  We want to know that the readings are okay as well.

We have watched you sleep and cried at all of the holes that we have put into your body just to keep you alive.

Every night that we sat awake waiting for your blood glucose to rise or fall, we did from love and a need to keep you safe.

When we nag at your for not testing, injecting or rotating sites it’s because we want you to have a long and healthy life.  

It’s not that we love the sound of our own voices. It’s not that we think you don’t have a clue. As parents, we know that life happens and people forget. We just want to help.

If you need us to, we will still help you with any care or night testing. 

Ask.  We might be out of practice but we are quick studies. We will help you anyway and any time that we can. It’s just what parents do.

Even if you aren’t my child and you live with diabetes, I wish I could take it from you.  

Honestly,  I wish I could help you carry that burden for a week and let you breathe.  I have told you this before and I mean it. I don’t care how old you are.  You are someone’s child with diabetes.  You carry the same burden as my own child.  It still kills me.

I wish you didn’t have to carry so much “gear” with you when you go out.  

I wish you knew the luxury of just grabbing your wallet and keys and heading out the door without concern for insulin, pump, glucometer and glucose tablets.

We wish for a cure too.

Until it arrives, we will work with you to have the best care, the best knowledge and the best tools that we can afford.

As parents of people with diabetes, we wish that the general public really understood that…

insulin pump tattoo

Type 1  is not the same as type 2 diabetes.  

Each disease has its own challenges and issues.

We did not cause our children to develop diabetes.  

Seriously, we carry enough guilt about not protecting our children from an invisible disease.  Your added blame is not required.

It is okay for our children to have treats now and again, the same as your children do.

No child–or adult should live on junk food but a cupcake now and again will just brighten someone’s day…or raise a falling blood glucose level.

Insulin is not a cure.

It just keeps my son alive…and can kill him. It is a carefully managed tool that he must use at all times.

An insulin pump is not a cure either. 

An insulin pump is an expensive tool that not everyone can afford.  Even for those lucky enough to be able to use one, there is still much work to be done to be safe and healthy.

Diabetes is expensive.

 Let me repeat this….diabetes is EXPENSIVE. There are many great advances in diabetes care but they are only available to those with excellent insurance or deep pockets.  The cost of diabetes supplies can range from the equivalent of a car payment or mortgage payment each month. Again, that is just for a person with diabetes to stay alive.

I look tired because I don’t sleep at night.  

After years of worrying about my son’s blood glucose levels and testing him numerous times per night–well I still wake up. I still worry about what his readings are. I still don’t sleep properly

Worrying isn’t about being an overprotective helicopter parent or because I have nothing better to do with my time.

 I worry because diabetes is deadly.  Errors in insulin, errors in tools or simply changes in activity levels can have lethal consequences for people with diabetes.  This isn’t just talk. This is real.  I have lost friends to this disease.  Parents of children with diabetes have seen their children die because of diabetes. Diabetes kills. It is a scary disease.

As a parent of a child with diabetes, I hope both my child and the general public know that I will continue to work hard every day to improve the lives of people with diabetes. I will offer a helping hand, a strong shoulder or the voice of experience where necessary. I will continue to dream of a day when we can say that we are parents of children cured of diabetes.

Diabetes Diagnosis day…It slipped my mind

17 years of diabetes
Celebrating 17 years of health and wellness

It slipped my mind…sort of…well, more so than ever before. Today is the day that Diabetes turns 17 years old in our house.  Strangely, it hasn’t consumed all of my thoughts this month.  I haven’t planned this post for weeks in advance…in fact I actually had another post planned for this week when I realized the date!

That is unheard of for me.

Every March I think of two things…what will I get my oldest son for his birthday and how long diabetes has been a part of my youngest son’s life.

This March has been a bit different.  I was busy this March with other things.  For the first few days of the month, I got to spend time with my nephews after not seeing them for a  few years.  I was able to meet my youngest nephew for the very first time.  We enjoyed cuddles and goofing around.  It wasn’t until I was home that I thought about his little life and the life of his older cousin–my youngest son.

When my son was his age, he was being stabbed with a needle somewhere in his body 5+ times per day.  At the age of 3, his little fingers had tiny marks from testing his blood glucose levels 8 or more times per day.  My sweet little nephew had bruises on his knees from playing outside with his trucks.  When my son was that age, he had similar bruises but there were also bruises that would sometimes find his arms, legs or stomach after an injection.

I am so glad that none of my nephews have had to go through this.  I remain in awe of how well my son has managed to cope.  He won’t even notice this day.  Life with diabetes is all that he has ever known.  For him, it is simply St. Patrick’s Day–an excuse to go out with his friends and have a beer.

Today I will pause as I always do.  Most likely I will message a dear friend whose son shares this “dia-versary”.  On this day, I will be extra grateful for the many incredible and lasting friendships that diabetes has brought into my life.  I will also take a moment to cry for the friend who lost her child last year–we were brought together because of our sons’ common diagnosis of type 1 diabetes.

Today I am sure that I will slip back in time for a moment.  There will be a pause in my day when I vividly recall the lifeless child that I held in my arms 17 years ago.  I will remember the prayers that I said and the prayers that were offered as we rushed to the hospital.  At one point today I will see, in my mind’s eye, the doctor who sent my son to ICU and told me, “if he makes it through the next 24 hours, you will need to learn a lot about diabetes.” The phone calls, the terror, the uncertainty will all come flooding back just like it was yesterday.

Today I will quietly cry for the life that was lost but I then I will wipe away the tears.  As I tell others, today is about celebrating.  Today marks 17 years that my son has lived strongly with type 1 diabetes.  He has never let it stop him from doing anything–except for shoveling the driveway in the winter.  He seemed to often be conveniently low as a child during that particular chore.

My son now manages his diabetes his way. I don’t test him.  Rarely do I know what his blood sugar levels look like.  I can’t tell you his insulin to carbohydrate ratio or even his basal rates. Diabetes is his disease to handle now.

It hasn’t all been perfect. There have been stumbles along the way.  I still remain there to help when asked.  We discuss carb counts or extended boluses.  I still do site changes when required. Seventeen years later, we are both finding our way but he is healthy and thriving.  I can ask for nothing more…except a cure of course.