Last week we had quite a scare. It turned out fine, but I felt really bad that it happened and want to make sure it doesn’t happen again. Kaitlyn’s pump completely ran out of insulin either before bed or sometime after she had fallen asleep, and we didn’t know.
She must have been without insulin for several hours, because when I finally checked her, her blood sugar was really high. Her CGM (continuous glucose monitor) had been picking up a signal, but because it was on vibrate and her phone had died, we weren’t getting updates from the CGM app on our phones, and I couldn’t hear the CGM alerts from her room. Luckily, she just had low ketones that we were able to clear up, but it took hours before we were able to get her back in range with a new site and several corrections. It scared me a little bit thinking about what could have happened if we had let it go all night, and it made me feel like a horrible mom.
At first, I was pretty angry. I was mad at Kaitlyn for not telling me that she was so low on insulin. I was mad at myself for not making sure the cell phone was charged. And I was frustrated with my husband that he didn’t check her before he went to bed like he normally does. I began to think that we were giving Kaitlyn too much independence and that I needed to have more control.
It’s such a fine line — do I allow her to learn and become more independent, or do I play it safe and control everything? After thinking about it a lot, we decided that we still need both. We need to have control over the situation so we can keep her safe, and we need to let her learn independence so that she’ll be able to fully take care of herself someday.
I think the key is to give her the tools to take care of herself and then check to make sure she’s doing what she needs to do. I hadn’t really given her the responsibility of doing certain things — like charging her phone or knowing when she needs a site change. Obviously, we also were lacking in our own overseeing efforts.
In an effort to help us all be more on top of things, I made a diabetes station for Kaitlyn right in her room, with the chargers for her phone and CGM, extra diabetes supplies, juice, etc. We also made a little device to help her and me remember when her next site change should be. It’s two clear, plastic cups stacked together with the days of the week written around the rim of the bottom cup. The top cup has an arrow that points down to the day with the phrase “Next site change.” We just twist the top cup until the arrow matches with the day of her next site. Now Kaitlyn (and the rest of us) will always know when she’s due for a site change!
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.