One of my childhood heroes just confessed to me that she swears in front of her grandkids. It seems a bit shocking, until you realize that she’s one of “us.” Her grandson also has type 1 diabetes, and she’s referring to that moment when you take a routine blood sugar test and get an eye-popping result.

I’m sure you all know exactly how she feels. For us it has been a bit of a process. In the beginning, I was terrified by low blood sugar. While we were figuring it all out, we were accustomed to high blood sugar, but the lows – oh, how they petrified newbie me! Every low would be accompanied by massive overreaction via an assortment of hard candy, juice, and other forms of sugar.

As time has progressed, I’m finding myself much more perturbed by high blood sugar. Nothing compares to finding out that an infusion set has gone bad or that somehow, through a miscalculation or even an omission, James’ blood sugar is too high.

So I readily confess that I can relate to my friend. While my language may not be colorful, it is amazing how quickly a number on a blood glucose meter can instantly add tension. However, my response as a parent has been a little different.

I think in part it comes from long experience and ample opportunities to practice reacting to blood glucose readings that are less than ideal. Although we are model patients for our endocrinologist, and we feel experienced and able in treating James’ diabetes, we still have lots of ups and downs. Long ago, I perfected the skill of hiding my emotions behind a stoic gaze.

So now when I test James before Sunday dinner and discover that he forgot to tell us about a snack he got in church, I am an expert at not reacting. Likewise, while I can wrangle a juice box from the passenger seat of a moving car while on a California freeway, I do it without flinching, exclaiming, or even sighing. It isn’t because I’m innately good at hiding my surprise or my anxiety. I’ve just had loads of practice. I guess it’s just another thing that defines “us” — reacting to the most potentially upsetting news with plenty of inner turmoil but an outer guise of peace. If my friend spends enough time with her grandson, I’m sure she’ll be right there. In the meantime, while I rarely condone swearing, I’m giving her a pass on this one.


Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.

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