I think diabetes care merits gentleness all around. I have written before about how I feel that it’s important to be gentle with ourselves as caregivers and to give ourselves plenty of grace and forgiveness as we struggle with the monumental task of caring for a child with type 1 diabetes. While I think about making diabetes more comfortable for James all the time, I don’t think I’ve ever compiled a list of strategies that we use. This is really just the most basic beginning of some of the ideas we employ to sweeten diabetes, but I hope it might be helpful to someone!
My most important “tip” regards caregiver attitude. I feel that if I can stay positive and confident, respond to less-than-ideal blood sugar numbers with an attitude of “I can fix this” instead of “What did I do wrong?,” and try to be gracious, kind, and forgiving to all the people who we run into and who inevitably comment on diabetes, I can make diabetes FEEL more peaceful and less stressful. If I can create peace in my heart and somehow transmit that to my son, he will feel differently about his disease than if I am stressed, angry, and upset. I do feel those emotions from time to time. But part of the reason I concentrate so much on self-care is that I know that strong feelings about diabetes will emanate from me whether they’re positive or negative, and I want to be as positive as possible!
I also strive to make James feel more comfortable in the things that he has to do every day. I’m happy to check his blood sugar for him when I can, as it gives him a little bit of a break. I also try to remind him gently at home and to train him to check before meals so he can get insulin into his system and eat as soon as dinner is ready. I try to make sure he has good supplies all ready to go so his fingers are comfortable. I like to have low blood sugar supplies that he likes and enjoys.
We also have a prize for getting a blood sugar reading of exactly 100 (a number we chose somewhat randomly). If he hits 100, he gets a dollar. That has made testing a little more exciting and fun!
When James needs a site change or a new sensor inserted for his continuous glucose monitor, I try to make sure he’s lying down and comfortable. I always use numbing cream. The doctor prescribes it, James prefers it, and it makes everyone happy. I also let him play on the tablet during insertions or when his blood sugar is high and needs to come down a bit before he eats. We make a “date” out of our endocrinologist appointments—he and I go out to eat somewhere for lunch as part of our process. I try to replace potentially negative consequences of diabetes with positive ones!
None of these tips or ideas eliminates all of the potentially negative aspects of diabetes. That just isn’t possible. But I do feel it’s worthwhile to always strive to be more peaceful and more mindful of comfort—to be more GENTLE with ourselves and with our kids. Overall, we just really try to make lemonade out of our lemons by adding just a bit of sweetness when things get a little too bitter or too sour.
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.