To understand this story, you have to understand something of what our life has been like these past dozen years or so. (And perhaps, also, early-2000s teen cinema.) When James was first diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, we often needed to check his blood sugar late at night, just to make sure that everything was working as it should. Heaven forbid he should have a low blood sugar or a pervasive high overnight.
Then we got CGM (continuous glucose monitoring) technology. This would alert us any time that his blood sugar might be off. Instead of setting regular alarms to go in and check him throughout the night, we could simply glance at our devices and know what his blood sugar was doing. And we would be awakened by alerts if his blood sugar was very high or low so that we could intervene.
Now, we have an insulin pump that uses that same CGM technology, but it also communicates back to the pump to automatically distribute insulin amounts to get those blood sugars level. It sounds too good to be true, and it almost is. It’s still a wonder, and our family sleeps like we have never been able to before!
Most nights, that is. The other night we were awakened near midnight to a very loud alarm on our cell phones. James’ blood sugar was very high. As we are now unaccustomed to being disturbed at night, we were a little rusty about what we should do. I think my husband, Craig, tapped me on the shoulder and said, “This is really bad. I should check this out, right?” and my response was something like, “Yawn. Yeah, you should check it out.” And I rolled over and went back to sleep.
But then not two minutes later, Craig came back to our bedroom very alarmed. “It’s gone. I can’t find it.”
“Wait, what can’t you find?” (Remember, I’m still very sleepy!)
“His pump! I went to give him some insulin and it’s just… gone.”
Well, that woke me up. What could this be? Although James is a teenager, I still see him off to bed nearly every night. He was home all evening. The pump had to be nearby. Why wasn’t it on him??
Now completely awake, Craig and I started buzzing around trying to find it. It wasn’t in his bed or under his bed or on the ground near his bed. It wasn’t plugged in and charging. It wasn’t where he keeps his supplies or where he puts his glucose meter and phone overnight.
Finally — aha! — we discovered it!
It was on the floor… by the toilet.
Apparently James had visited the bathroom in the night and as he did, the pump must have somehow disconnected. And yes, without continuous infusion of insulin, his blood sugar had rapidly climbed.
Thankfully, the mystery of the missing pump was solved. We found it, we attached it, and started it up. Sadly, that was the end of any really refreshing sleep I might have had that evening. I find it increasingly difficult to get back to sleep upon awakening now that I’m at least a decade older than when this diabetes lifestyle started, and by now I was quite worried about his high blood sugar. And with good reason; he threw up a few times before the night was through. But thankfully he was finally able to get back to sleep, his blood sugar quickly came down, and he went on to have a pretty normal day the next day.
Craig and I are immensely grateful for good technology that alerted us on that day and that keeps his blood sugar at healthy levels every day without too much of our time and attention. There are just some moments that defy our best planning and best technology, and this night was one such moment. Such is life with an often unpredictable chronic disease!
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.