I just got off the phone with a great girl, a wonderful new friend named Tracy. Her aunt is a good friend of mine from church and knew that I had a daughter with type 1 diabetes. Tracy’s 12-year-old son was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes a month ago, and they are still very much overwhelmed with his diagnosis. Her aunt gave her my number so she would have someone to talk to who had “been through it.” They have great doctors and diabetes educators who have helped them a ton, but I could tell that she still has so many questions and worries. I’ll share some of her concerns and my responses in hopes that they might help someone who is in a similar situation.
What devices or technology are available to help manage type 1?
We have an insulin pump and a continuous glucose monitor (CGM). We love both of them, and we highly recommend them. There are a lot of great brands out there, and the technology is just getting better and better. You can learn more or sometimes even “test-drive” the technology at diabetes events in your area like fundraiser walks or JDRF’s TypeOneNation Summit, or at Children With Diabetes’® Focus on Technology conferences or annual Friends for Life® conference. I’m super grateful for all the technology that is available to make managing diabetes a little easier!
I’m so worried about my son going low. He’s on a very low dose of insulin, but he’s been going low all the time. We haven’t been able to sleep at night because we’re so worried.
I know how you feel! I felt the same way — sometimes sleeping by Kaitlyn’s side and setting alarms all night because I was so worried that we would miss a low blood sugar. I think all parents of kids with type 1 go through this. Your son is probably still going through an adjustment period too. You’ll probably see that things will level out as he phases out of this “honeymoon period” and as your doctors help you adjust your insulin rates. The CGM has been a major help for us too, especially with the sharing feature that lets us see Kaitlyn’s blood sugar numbers on our phones. We can go to sleep at night knowing that the alarms will alert us if Kaitlyn’s going too low.
Is the CGM very accurate? I heard that you still have to check blood sugar all the time. Is it worth it?
Personally, I think that it’s 100 percent worth it. In our experience it has been pretty accurate. Not only can you see your child’s blood-sugar level, but you can see what direction it’s going. We still have to calibrate and do glucose meter checks throughout the day, but it’s less often. We check about four to five times a day instead of about 10 to 12 times like before.
Can my son still play sports, swim, and ride roller coasters?
In all the time that Kaitlyn has had diabetes, I’ve never had to tell her that she can’t do something because of diabetes. We’ve had to be much more careful about some things, of course, and the timing is important to make sure her blood sugar is in range for certain activities. But I think kids with type 1 can and should do everything any other kid can do.
I’m so worried about my son getting sick. What if he throws up and his blood sugar goes too low?
That’s also a concern, but I’m happy to say that we’ve never had to hospitalize Kaitlyn since her diagnosis. There have been a couple of scary moments and sleepless nights, but it hasn’t been anything we couldn’t deal with at home. The most important thing is to keep a close eye on blood sugar levels and ketone levels. If you’re really worried, call your after-hours doctor or your diabetes hotline and they can walk you through what to do.
Do you ever stop worrying?
Well… does the worry ever completely go away? No. But it gets better. I remember the first couple months after diagnosis; it really was the worst thing I have ever been through as a mom. But I promise, it gets so much better!
And if you feel like you need a pep talk, call your new diabetes-mom friend! If you don’t have a close friend with a child with diabetes, there are so many other ways to connect with fellow type 1 families, such as social media groups or community events like JDRF walks. It doesn’t take long for a friendship to blossom when you’ve got type 1 in common. You have now become forever part of a close-knit, worldwide type 1 family. I think I can speak for almost all of us: We are really eager to meet friends and help out as much as we can.
My family took it one day at a time, and so will you. You’ll get to the point where you can rest easy and be confident that you can deal with any challenge that comes your way.
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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