It is our job to support our children in their diabetes care

supporting our children with diabetes managing their care

We are constantly told as parents of children with diabetes to remember that this is not our disease.  We are only here to support our children in their diabetes care. When you are dealing with a toddler or a small child, it is really difficult to take this advice to heart.  

A two-year-old cannot grasp what is going on in their bodies. Mom and Dad are responsible for every aspect of their care.  The challenge as parents is to realize that while it was our burden, it is our children’s diabetes. One day they will grow and make their own choices.

Last week my son was having technical difficulties uploading his insulin pump so that I could look at his readings. He is managing his diabetes care now but we had agreed to chat about his trends on a regular basis.

After many messages and much frustration on my part, I gave up. I began to wonder if my son was on overload.  He had been to two different diabetes educators in a matter of weeks and had Mom calling him to discuss what was going on.

I began to think about taking a total break. Maybe I should just be letting the “experts” handle this. Perhaps it was time for Mom to just step away and allow it to be his diabetes to manage.

I was finding myself frustrated and angered when I wasn’t seeing enough data to make educated guesses about my son’s care.  Things were building up and I wondered if I was better just walking away for a bit. I began to think that he would have more peace and learn more if I just let it all be.

The person who needed to know his readings knew.

As my emotions churned and became more negative, I was hit by a thought that rocked me to the core.  I did not need all of that diabetes information.  The person who needed it had it–my son! My job as his mother was to ask him the right questions. It was my job to guide him towards the answers but to allow him to find his own solutions.

My job was to answer questions when needed.

With that realization, a huge weight lifted off of my shoulders. I was no longer carrying the burden of an impossible task. I was now sharing, teaching, and supporting–doing my job as a parent.  It felt wonderful!

When I picked up the phone and began talking to my son, I asked him if he had the pump program open.  He was shocked.  Why did he need it? I suggested that he might want to see it so he could decide what needed to be done.

We then discussed the areas that he felt needed to be changed. I asked him what needed to be tweaked, a basal or a bolus ratio.  He said his carb to insulin ratio was perfect.  I asked him why.  “Because the dietitian said so.”  I laughed and said that he needed to say so!

We went through a process of establishing if she was right.  The next step was to decide when to make the change.  I pulled out my John Walsh book and quoted to him how to change a basal rate.  He then made the decision of when and how much of a change he would make.

We are better as a team

I was proud of him.  I was proud of myself. I was supporting my child’s diabetes care decisions. We were both learning.  He was being empowered and it gave me a huge sense of relief.  

Type 1 diabetes is his disease to live with and manage to the best of his ability. It is my job to help him and encourage him. At the end of the day, only he can test, bolus and adjust. Its all up to him.

Do you like to see things written down? Check out the Diabetes Planner and keep track of important diabetes information in one spot.

Always Learning New Tips to manage Type 1 diabetes

Time and time again, the importance of the Diabetes Online Community (DOC) has been mentioned by myself and others.  It is an incredible place to share ideas, share accomplishments and troubles. It is also a great way of learning new tips to manage type 1 diabetes.

I wish my son was more involved in the DOC, but he remains one of the few teens in the industrial world who has minimal interest in technology and social networking. He has a Facebook account that he reads on occasion. He almost never adds comments or posts a status. My son will also never send a tweet or a friends request.    

I have had friends in the diabetes online world whose children have “friended” him but I do not hear of many conversations between them. That may change over time.  I can’t say. In the meantime, I continue to interact with friends and learn for both of us!

I try to stay active on Facebook and Twitter. I have embraced Instagram. Pinterest and I are the best of friends. Snapchat remains my nemesis, however. It would appear that it is too advanced for this parent.

You can never stop learning when you live with diabetes

the importance of learning new tips to manage Type 1 diabetes

The importance of continued learning struck me the other day. A good friend had asked a question about the best way to deal with a high protein meal.  

She is well versed in diabetes care but was being troubled by how protein was creating havoc in the bg levels of one of her children.  With great interest, I read through the many comments and suggestions that she received.

I realized that we had had a similar issue with my son. If he had lobster for supper or a steak and salad, I was often at a loss as to the best way to proceed.  One person with diabetes stated that she didn’t bolus for protein but she would temporarily increase her basal rate.  That made a lot of sense to me and seemed relatively easy to try.

The next time that I spoke with my son I told him about this revelation.  He asked if it would work for a bacon and egg breakfast because he loves a good pan of bacon and eggs in the morning.  I said yes! The amount of added basal and the time to extend would be something that he would work out for himself but he really wasn’t adding a lot of insulin to his system at any given time.

He thought this was a great idea. I was impressed that he took the knowledge and was open to learning how to incorporate it into his own diabetes care.  

Your Diabetes May Vary

My son is being given a lot of information at the moment but I am proud to hear that he is also listening.  He has told me of some things that he thinks the educators are a bit out to lunch on.  I reminded him that this is his disease.  He needs to take in what they say, weigh it against what he knows about his own body and then go forward.  They may have great advice but it may not work for him. If he knows this in advance then it is okay to say that it doesn’t work for him. If he hasn’t tried it, give it a shot. It is important to always be open to learning new tips to manage Type 1 diabetes!

My son becoming more independent in his diabetes care is a new road for both of us but I think we will make it one step at a time.

Looking for help in organizing your diabetes care? If you enjoy planners, take a look at the Diabetes Advocacy Diabetes Planner with many great sections of tips and information.

The right doctor for your teen with diabetes

the right doctor for your teen with diabetes

A great doctor means everything in diabetes care. The right doctor for your teen with diabetes can do a lot to help with a parent’s well-being as well!

Last week my son went to his first diabetes appointment without Mom. I had emailed the clinic. I had given them a heads up about a lot of things that I thought that they should know but I was not at the appointment.

A little while after the appointment, I was both surprised and impressed to receive a text from my son. I asked him how it went and he said, “I will call you after.”  He was going to call and share the appointment with me? I was very pleased that he wanted to do this.

The doctor talked to my teen

Later that evening we did talk. He told me that they had a lot to say, most of it he didn’t remember.  Again, my son is 16 and forgetting what adults say is a teen brain specialty. The nurse made a few changes.  His doctor commented on how much he had grown…and then his doctor talked, and talked, and talked to him for a full hour.  That was not unusual.  This doctor takes a lot of time with his patients and their families.  He gets to know you, shares with you and advises you.  He is wonderful.

The doctor focused on my teen’s learning not his A1c

My son was a little shocked by his high A1c (personally I was shocked that it wasn’t higher).  His doctor quickly told him that he didn’t care about that. It was just a number. (Yes you read that right! His DOCTOR said he wasn’t concerned about a high A1c!)  

The doctor’s concern was with my son learning to handle HIS disease. He wanted my child to know how to troubleshoot the issues himself.  It was important for my son to know how much insulin to give himself, how to adjust a basal or bolus setting.  This was on him.  Now was his time to step up and learn.

I was beaming on the other end of the phone! This was what I had been aiming for as well but coming from his doctor was different from the “momma yammer”.  We do sit down and discuss strategies.  For the past few years, when making changes I would first ask him if he thought it was a bolus or basal issue.  He now had to develop the confidence to do it all on his own.  I was thrilled and reminded him that he was already doing a great job learning.

The doctor gave him a two-year plan

No one was suggesting that this complete transformation would happen overnight. This was his two-year plan and his doctor had told him that messing up and having a high A1c while he found his way was okay.

This was also a good reminder for Mom and a great message for my teen. Learn! Learn! and then when you have it figured out, go back and fix that A1c but for now learn about you, your body and your disease.

Having a great doctor is so important. Having the right doctor for your teen with diabetes who understands how to talk to your child is golden. It helps your teen and helps mom and dad feel more confident in the teen’s next steps.

right doctor for your teen with diabetes

If you are looking to make the most out of your next diabetes appointment, the Diabetes Advocacy Diabetes Planner has a section to help you out.

Psychic Connection?

The other night was night two of tossing and turning which in itself is not entirely unusual. This night was different though.  I was completely tired and ready to drop.

I had read a few pages of my book, done some relaxation exercises but sleep would not come.  After awhile anxiety began to creep in. I tossed and turned some more.  My mind began to take off on its own. There was no way to reel it back in.

I thought of my oldest son living up in Alberta.  Had he been injured at work? I would have heard if he had. I tried to shut my mind down again. I tossed and turned some more.  I thought of my youngest son. Was he testing at night? Was he in trouble? Had something happened? I again worked to calm myself down. Both boys, or someone around them, would have contacted me if there was a problem.  I was being foolish.  I was overtired. I had too much on the go. I had too much time on my hands.  There were a million reasons for me to be tossing and turning. Driving myself insane was in no way helping the situation. By 2am I finally fell asleep.

When I got up the next morning, I wondered if this had just been a reaction to so many years of interrupted sleep.  Was my body going through some sort of withdrawal? It has not slept through the night for any extended period in 20 years.  There was bound to be some issues at some point. I decided that I would try herbal tea with my book the next night.  All would be fine. My kids were still alive. No friends or family had been injured during the night. Obviously my anxiety was unwarranted. It was probably just my body being strange….and then I talked to my youngest son.

After a bit of chatter, I asked him how his readings were.  “Good except for last night. I was up all night because of a bad site.  I got it fixed though and was perfect during the day.” BINGO! There was the source of my anxiety!  He was in trouble the night before.  Well not trouble, but you know what I mean.

I have spent almost 14 years somehow waking to most diabetes related events. I would wake at unexplained times when he was low or high.  Something would bring me out of a deep sleep and make me test him.  We have no CGM.  I just somehow often “knew“.  Perhaps this knowing did not know distance?  I am not sure. Some people would say that I was crazy and this was just a coincidence.  It could be. I am not sure but I do know that I slept a little easier the next night.  Any tossing and turning  I experienced that night didn’t have a higher level of anxiety attached.  As long as my son is also waking and dealing with things…well I will probably always worry and be concerned but hopefully I will find a level of calm. If I don’t, I will text! psychic 

Preparing for a new school year with diabetes

a new school year with diabetes

It’s that time of year again, the time that many parents look forward to and most parents of children with diabetes both anticipate and dread—Back To School!

For a parent, this is a time when we look forward to the return to routine, early mornings and school lunches.  We stare in shock at the number of clothes that no longer fit our offspring and cringe at the many new outfits and shoes that they require for the new school year.

As parents of children with diabetes, we also begin to worry—will our children with diabetes be safe at school? Will our schools allow testing and injecting in the classroom? Will our children’s teachers understand the very real cognitive impairment that comes with highs and lows? Will someone use glucagon on our child if it is needed? Will our older children test and bolus around their peers? And the list of fears go on and on.

To help alleviate some of those fears, I asked parents to give me their top tips for preparing for a new school year with diabetes.  Here are a few things that we think are important to remember.

Keep calm and stay strong!  

preparing for back to school with diabetes. Diabetes Advocacy

You are your child’s advocate.  You are your child’s protector but remember that most educators also love children.  They know how important your child is and will do as much as they can to help you and your child to feel safe in the classroom.

Before the new school year begins, arrange to meet with staff to discuss what they can expect when they have a child with diabetes in their school.  While your child may not be their first child with diabetes, each child’s care needs are different. It is important that they understand your child’s individual treatment plan.

At this meeting, you will work together to establish roles.  Carefully outline what do you expect from the teacher and the support staff. Make sure that they understand what they can expect from you.  Finally,  ensure that everyone knows what tasks your child can do on their own.

You also want to establish a method of communication. The school should understand that they can contact you and that you would like to be able to stay in touch with them.  Working together will make the year go smoother for everyone.

Do not go into meetings in attack mode. Remember to be calm, rational and offer credible arguments to any opposition to your requests. Often your school personnel knows little or nothing about diabetes care.  Remember that you once were probably just as ignorant so be patient, educate and be willing to make compromises where it is reasonable.  You also have every right to stand your ground when the alternative will put your child in harm’s way.

Download our ebook on how to prepare to meet with school staff.

Empower your child. 

empower your child with diabetes before they go back to school. Diabetes Advocacy

You cannot go to school every day with your child. (I tried once but the teacher kicked me out) It is therefore important that your child be aware of his/her rights and their responsibilities when it comes to diabetes care.

Ensure that your child knows what to do when a teacher impedes them looking after themselves (stops them from finishing their lunch, using the washroom when high, or having access to water for example).  If your child is responsible enough, he/she may carry their supplies with them at all times so that they have access to them in all classrooms and in the event of a lock-down.

Create and present a diabetes care plan or 504 plan for your child. 

diabetes care plan. Diabetes Advocacy

If you live in the United States and your child attends a publicly funded school, it is important that you put in place a 504 Plan which outlines the roles and responsibilities of the parents, student, and school. Sample plans can be found at as well as the ADA website,

If you live in a country (like Canada), without such laws to protect your child with diabetes in school, you may still create a care plan.  Often school boards will have their own plans that you can fill out or you can work with many online templates to create your own.

In either case, it is important that you outline the level of care required for your child, the accommodations that need to be made during exams for high or low bg levels, missed school because of diabetes-related appointments, how to handle parties or events at school, what to do about school field trips, after school sports activities and more.  This document should note what is expected from the parents (ie. They will ensure that there are adequate supplies in the classroom), the student (ie. he/she will test before exams), and the teacher (ie.  The student will be supervised when low until back in range)

Educate, Educate, and provide information. 

educate staff and students about diabetes. Diabetes Advocacy

Take the time to set up a meeting with all staff who will be interacting with your child.  Ensure that they know what diabetes is as well as the signs and symptoms of highs and lows in your child.

Share a detailed booklet of diabetes care information for your child’s homeroom teacher.  Provide information on your child’s testing and injecting schedule, general information on the insulin pump and errors that could occur if your child is pumping, ensure that your emergency contact information is highlighted and easily available. Make sure that everyone is aware of policies on eating in the classroom or on the bus as well as whether the school will have someone trained to administer glucagon in an emergency situation.

Provide posters or flashcards that can be placed in the staff room as well as the classroom noting the signs and symptoms of highs and lows.  You may also wish a picture of your child posted in the staff room so that all staff are aware of your child and will not rush them out of a lunchroom or penalize them for being in a hall to get water when high.

Finally, if your child is willing, go into the classroom and present information to the students on diabetes and diabetes care. Knowledge is power.  When children learn to understand the realities of diabetes, they are often your best source of support for your child when you are away from them.

Be a Teacher’s Pet! 

appreciate help with diabetes care. Diabetes Advocacy

If you have the ability, volunteer with your child’s school.  Make yourself and your child visible to the staff. Help out at events or volunteer to chaperone field trips.  This can allow the staff to better know you and understand your concerns.  This can also help you to come to know the staff and feel safer about leaving your child when you aren’t around.

If you are not able to be at the school, reward good behavior! Remember to thank your child’s teacher for a job well done.  Provide thoughtful gifts at Christmas and yearend to let them know you appreciate all they do when you are not around.

Don’t forget your supplies

diabetes supplies

A new school year is the perfect time to stock up on your diabetes supplies for school. Make sure that you have a comprehensive list of supplies to send to school with your child as well as a system in place for refilling items as they are used. An emergency red box may be placed in the classroom with low supplies, syringes, spare test strips and batteries.  Depending on your child’s age, supplies may be left in other rooms, at the office or carried by the child.

Download our free list of some of the items that you might want to include when preparing for a new school.

Send notes. 

carb counts for school

Make sure that you keep an open line of communication between yourself and your child’s teacher(s).  This can be done through emails or notes left in the child’s daily school planner.

Attach sticky notes to your child’s food noting the carb counts or exchanges on each item. This can help to ensure proper insulin to carbohydrate/food dosing for children of all ages.

Managing gym class. 

managing gym class with diabetes

Physical activity is important for everyone but it is especially important for people living with diabetes.  It is important for gym teachers to know that diabetes should not stop our children from taking part in events.  Your child should know to test before he/she starts any physical activity. Make sure that everyone knows the range that it is safe for your child to exercise in.  If your child is on a pump, you may wish to set a special “gym day” profile to reduce basal rates or perhaps you simply want to give the child 10 grams of carbohydrates before class to help them maintain their bg level during activity.

Relax and enjoy the new school year

relax while your children with diabetes is at school

My final tip is the most important…Relax and have fun! Make the year fun! Your child is a child first.  Plan ahead with staff regarding things like parties, extracurricular activities, outings and exams so that your child gets the most out of their school year.

School should be a time of fun, education, and friendships.  Diabetes can sometimes interfere and make things a challenge but do not let it stand in your way.  Help them to learn to live with diabetes in the most positive way. 

For a guide to care policies in many Canadian schools please check out this link.

If you have a tip that I missed, please let me know! 

A Mile in His Shoes

When my son wakes up in the morning, the first thing he does is check his iPhone.  He eventually gets out of bed, does what needs doing in the washroom and then begins to scrounge through the cupboards in search of food. Once all of this is done and he is ready to eat, he pulls his meter out of his pocket and tests.

I constantly ask why he doesn’t test as soon as he wakes up? When I wake up in the morning, and it’s not a school day, my first stop is his room to test him.  After that I do the rest of my morning routine but testing is first on the list before all else and it’s not my body.  Why can’t he do that, I often wonder.

Today I thought about it a little bit more. For years I have questioned things like forgetting to bolus.  He has had to have insulin with his food for as long as he can remember and long before that. How can he forget to bolus?  How can he go for days and days without changing an infusion set? Doesn’t the adhesive begin to annoy him? And the list of questions go on.

But what if I was the person living with diabetes? Would I still be as diligent? I have a hard time sticking to a diet.  I can do a new exercise routine for three weeks and when it is supposed to become habit, for me it becomes annoying and I usually come up with a thousand excuses and eventually stop. How would I then handle a routine that had to last me for the rest of my natural life?

I could count the carbs at every meal. That is habit. I do that all the time now.  In fact, recently a friend and I were out to dinner. I was ready to tell him how many carbs in his supper when I realized that it wasn’t necessary.  We didn’t need to count the carbs.  My son wasn’t there.

What about site changes? The other day, my son said that he should get to do one on me in exchange for all of the infusion sets that I have put in him over the years. I declined. Would I be like him and put off changing them for as long as possible? I would probably need to use numbing cream ( he hasn’t used it in years).  The noise of the insertion launching device would freak me out. I would probably also be looking for someone else to do it for me so I didn’t pull away.

Testing? Would I test as often as I should? Possibly. I might be okay here because I would have to use AST.  I have tested on my arm before. It was completely painless. That amazed me! Lancing my fingers?? Well that would take a lot more effort and my son makes it look like no big deal.  Once again, what’s with the big bang of the lancet? That noise scares the begeebees out of me! I wouldn’t be worried about drawing attention to myself in public because…well I just don’t really care about stuff like that most of the time.

If I walked in my son’s shoes, would I be better at my care? Perhaps but I am a bit older than him.  If I walked in my son’s shoes when I was 15, would I be better at my care than he is? I remember what I was doing at 15 and 16 years old.  Diabetes would not have been a welcomed addition to my awkward new life.  I’ll have to try to remember that a little more. I am trying but when your child’s life depends on something like insulin injections and blood glucose testing, it can be hard to remain relaxed and easy going. I will work on focusing how ill-fitting his shoes are when I try them on. They are his shoes. I can lace them for him but he will one day have to walk in them alone…and as a mother, that still remains scary.

His dirty running shoes, my pasty legs

Raising Teens with Diabetes…a Book Review

Raising Teens with Diabetes Book Review Diabetes Advocacy

Raising Teens with Diabetes. A survival guide for parents” by Moira McCarthy arrived at just the right time for me. I had heard that she was writing a book and it had been published. Thanks to the interwoven world of Facebook, I had seen her posts in groups that I belonged to as well as comments from mutual friends. I was therefore really excited when the folks at Spry Publishing asked me if I would like to read an advance copy of the book.  

My son with diabetes is just a few months shy of 16.  We are knee-deep into the teen years and tips for handling drinking, driving, and letting go are definitely all things that I welcome with open arms!

Personal stories of parenting a teen with diabetes

Each chapter of this book opens with Moira’s own personal stories.  In chapter one she gets us started by introducing us to the world of “Hurricane Hormone” and advises us of the horror ride that both parents and teens are about to embark on.

Moira’s daughter was young when she was diagnosed with diabetes, so much of the book looks at burnout of both parent and teen after years of dealing with this disease.  As a parent of a child diagnosed at two, this was definitely a welcomed perspective.  

She does not exclude those diagnosed at a later age though or even those who were diagnosed in their teen years or later. Chapter three is dedicated to those children struggling with their adolescence as well as a new diagnosis.  Short asides, from people like Moira’s own daughter as well as well-known bloggers and the JDRF’s own Aaron Kowalski give a wide perspective on this topic.

Raising a teen with diabetes takes a village.

“Raising Teens with Diabetes” looks at family dynamics, the role of siblings, and the role of friendships–old and new with some great tips and pitfalls that many parents fall into. Moira warns of making your child’s friends the “diabetes police” and suggests ways to use friendships to help your child without going overboard.  She further touches on the more quiet or shy teen and how to ensure that they tell their friends at least the basics in diabetes management and care.

How to let your teen take more responsibility for their care.

As the book nears the halfway point, you are now beginning to learn how to set the stage for adulthood.  Moira looks at school and letting go–allowing your child to be more responsible for their care in a safe setting, setting limits and having consequences that fit the action.  

She talks about the rules for driving and how vital it is to stick to them. Since my son will be legally able to begin this process in a matter of months, I read keenly wondering if we can both stick to these guidelines and knowing how important they truly are.

When your teen starts drinking and dating.

This book even talks about sex! I instantly was hooked when Moira’s first suggestion when handling dating and then sex was “…go on every single date with them, forever and ever…and this will not be a worry.”  I loved it! My sons would definitely not agree however.

By Chapter 10, we are faced with another teen challenge–Drinking! It terrifies me.  My son is very private. He does not talk about diabetes.  He does not hide his testing or bolusing but he does not advertise it or talk about it either.  A few of his closest friends know about it.  His best friend has a good idea of what to do but who will help him when he and his friends decide to drink?

Use this book as a tool to talk to your teen.

This book offers a great chance to talk to your teen about these subjects as you read.  I would often bring up topics as they were covered.  “Did you know…” or “Wow! This book says…” were great conversation starters. We were even able to talk about erectile dysfunction!

In the early chapters, Moira’s warns that teen males exposed to tv commercials may quietly be concerned about this complication. My son shook his head and swore this was not something that he had remotely considered or knew about.  One problem overcome already!

Drug use was something that I had somehow not considered until it was brought up in the book. It is something that I have thought of and talked to my oldest son about but drugs and diabetes? It was not a topic I had ever considered…how naive was that! I was therefore really grateful to have the topic mentioned.  In modern society, it is definitely something that needs to be discussed and prepared for as much as all of the other topics.

I also had my eyes opened to a new view with the section on rebellion. Moira writes about the first time her daughter lied to her about a bg level and how things spiraled out of control until she ended up in ICU.

Her daughter said she got a test of “the drug she’s struggled with for years.  That drug is called freedom.  That day,(when she lied about a reading) she realized that I trusted her so much, she could pretty much do or not do whatever she wanted.  The idea of not checking was so delicious, she still says today she thinks she must know what drug addicts feel like when they try to detox.  She skipped testing more and more…And she told me after she landed in the ICU and almost died, as sick as it made her feel physically, the emotional high of DENYING diabetes any power in her life…made that horrid feeling all worth the while.”  

Even rereading this passage still makes me want to cry.  I “get it”. It hurts me but I “get it”.  I understand a bit more why my son “forgets” when he goes away from me. It’s not just about feeling so great that you forget you need to bolus/test, it’s about denying diabetes.  I wish that they could.

I appreciated Moira’s honesty when she noted that she had once thought that her daughter would never rebel.  That that sort of thing was something that happened to “other families”.  I have always known that this could happen to us.  I have also looked on to some of my friends and wondered, “how did they get such perfect kids? They never seemed to have any issues.”  I have also watched some parents struggle to do everything that they could with non-compliant teens and somehow manage to come out into adulthood with amazing young people.  I know that “this too shall pass” and “Raising Teens with Diabetes”  gives some wonderful tips on how to handle the rough ride until it does.

If you have a teen with diabetes this book is for you.  If you have a child who will grow up to be a teen with diabetes, keep this book around for later years. It will come in handy! Thank you Moira for giving new things to think about and a wonderful tool to refer back to.

Looking for more great reads? Check out our book page for suggestions and links to our reviews!

Another Night, Another Battle with the DMonster

3:15am.  I looked at the clock and began to do the math. How long was it since my son went to bed? What would his bg level have been? Do I really need to test yet or was it too soon? My bed was comfy.  It took me forever to fall asleep.  Did I need to get up or should I sleep another hour?

I figured that he had probably tested around 1am but something still made me drag my tired butt out of bed. I made sure to not be fully awake. No major movements to disturb the still sleeping parts of my body.  All would be fine. My mind would be appeased and I could go back to bed…or so I would have liked but the meter said differently.

He was 4.3 (77).  Not ideal for sleeping in my world.  I quickly woke the rest of my body and my brain began to fire on a few more cylinders.  It was time to find some glucose! I went to the fridge and for some reason it was filled with diet Pepsi, diet lemonade, and zero calorie flavored water.  Nothing with any decent amount of carbs in it! Okay no panic I had glucose somewhere. Eventually I found a bottle of liquid glucose.  I got my son up enough to drink and sat on the couch to wait.

I checked out the world of Twitter. I caught up on the latest happenings in the world of Facebook and read a few pages of my book.  Soon it was time to check him again.  Success…well sort of. He was now 4.6 (83).  It was still far from ideals but he was on his way up.  I scoured his room and found a bottle of glucose tablets. He would not be happy in the morning. He says that they leave a crappy taste in his mouth when he gets up but a glucose hangover it would be.  I fed him three tablets while he slept and returned to my own bed.

I wish I could say that I instantly fell asleep but I didn’t.  By 5:30 I was still staring at  the clock.  Thankfully its Saturday so I could sleep in a little bit but by 6 I checked one more time just to make sure all was still okay. He was a lovely 7(126) so I was happy to doze for a few more hours.

Diabetes may have kicked my sleep pattern to the curb for one night but we are ready to fight another day…and make a few changes to summer basal patterns!

fight the d monster

Exams are over and school’s out for SUMMER!

summer holidays Diabetes Advocacy

Wow! We have made it through another school year. This one saw my son take control of his diabetes care in school.

Before school ended, there were final exams to get through. Exams and diabetes can present their own set of challenges as my son found out.  

He was high during an exam

Thankfully, my son actually checked his blood glucose levels before he started some of his exams.   In at least one case he was high before he began. I asked him what he did?  

He told me that it was a two-hour exam but they had been given three hours to complete it.  The first hour he used to get his bg levels back in check. The final two hours he did his exam and corrected anything he had got wrong in the first hour.  I was proud and sad.

I was excited that my teenaged son had actually checked his blood glucose before an exam! I was proud that he was able to take control of the situation and make it work. However, I was also sad that once again diabetes had to mess with such a normal activity as a science exam.

He took control of his diabetes and the situation

The momma bear in me was all prepared to stand up for him and ask for accommodations if his mark was not where it should be.  The mom of a young man with diabetes said,” The boy has handled this his way.  Let it be.” and I have.

I often write about how I fear that he will never take the lead in his diabetes care. He has a very cavalier attitude about so much in life. I often wonder if my son will ever realize that this is serious?

Adults tell me that he will. They tell me my son will struggle. He will trip but that I have given him a good foundation to fall back on. I hold onto those words with both hands!

He is growing up

schools out

I am seeing changes in my son’s behaviour. As I have written about a lot lately, his interest in diet and exercise has had a very positive impact on his diabetes care.  

He knows that his bg levels need to be at their best so that he can perform at his best. That is a more powerful motivator than any of Mom’s lectures. He still isn’t perfect…but he is learning.

The true test of my teen’s newfound skills will be when he is away from me and dealing with his care on his own this summer.  I admit that I am nervous.

When he went away over Easter his care was non-existent.  He checked his blood glucose levels once a day on a good day.  I can’t worry about that. I can’t think about it.  These short stints will prepare him for the next few years when he decides to move away from me and begin his own life…but its hard not to worry because I am a mom after all!  


Diabetes And Exercise–What I learned last week

In the past few months, my son has really gotten into bodybuilding.  I am not talking on the competitive Mr. Universe scale of things, but simply getting fit, building muscles and looking “buff”.  He was following the George St. Pierre workouts and is currently working out to the “Body Beast“. I am excited to see him taking an interest in his health.  Equally, I am impressed to see the muscle tone and the dedication that he is giving these efforts but it is also presenting new challenges to us–how to manage diabetes and exercise!

When I saw a poster from my Animas rep stating that she would be bringing two people into our area to speak on just that topic I was overjoyed! I was dying for my son to actually attend and learn himself. He was equally sure that I could go and bring him home the Coles Notes version!  In the end, he won with the valid excuse of having to study for final exams.

Sebastien Sasseville and Heather Buckle are both extremely athletic and living with Type 1 diabetes.  I was excited to learn how best to manage diabetes while exercising from them both.

Sebastien’s take on diabetes and exercise

Sebastien explained how vital it was to have dreams and work towards them. With or without diabetes, it was important that we refuse to be still and continue to evolve at all times.

He referred to diabetes as a houseguest that becomes your roommate. You must learn to live with him/her in order to get the most out of your life.  He reminded his audience living with diabetes that it is not about the A1c, it is about the journey to improved health.

Sebastien also spoke about his control and how he handled his diabetes care. I was surprised (although I should have intuitively known this) that the same exercise at different times of the day has to be handled in different ways.  This was important information for me to bring home to my son who may workout at 8pm on a weeknight but 2pm on a weekend.  

Heather’s great tips on managing your diabetes before and after exercise

Heather continued the discussion on how to handle diabetes care and exercise by giving some great information on physiology.  She has been living with diabetes for 27 years. She is an athlete as well as a physiotherapist and Certified Diabetes Educator.  Heather offered great tips that my son and I had not even considered!

Heather suggested that basal rates should be dropped by even a small bit up to two hours BEFORE exercise, the importance of eating within 15 minutes of exercising, and keeping an exercise diary.  

She was the first person to show me real guidelines for when you can and cannot exercise when dealing with a high blood glucose level.  Its a question that parents often ask me when writing up plans for school–when is my child too high to participate in gym class? It turns out that the magic number–with or without ketones, is 17mmol (306mgdl).  Even without the presence of ketones, after 17, you will go higher with exercise! Fabulous to know for real world application!

Heather also showed us scenarios of why you may go higher after prolonged exercise even if you managed to stay in range for the entire period of exercise as well as how to fix this!  She talked about supplements, as well as the effect of temperature on insulin absorption.

Another light bulb moment for many people is when she discussed using multiple basal rates for one exercise! If you were doing an activity that required various levels of intensity, use various temporary basal rates. This made many audience members go “Of course!” A final tidbit to remember–injuries will raise blood glucose levels. Duh! but still how often do we really think about it?

What I learned from Heather and Sebastien

There was a lot more that both Heather and Sebastien had to say but those were some of the key points that were important for us.

  •  Exercise is vital and as important as insulin when living with diabetes.  
  • Attitude is everything–diabetes is not going away anytime soon so make it a positive part of your life!  
  • Enjoy taking care of yourself.
  • Enjoy being active and be the very best that you can be.

Great messages from wonderful people!

Learn more tips about diabetes and exercise from Christel Oerum here.