What do you do when you feel like your child is put in a situation where she is completely on her own — out of reach and away from the person who knows the most about her diabetes? I have had two of these experiences lately, and while Kaitlyn was completely fine in both situations, it scared me so much to know that if something bad were to happen, I wouldn’t have been able to do anything about it.
The first happened at track practice. Kaitlyn really wanted to do track this year, and I had given the coach the whole rundown — that Kaitlyn had diabetes and that I would stay for every practice, the whole time, etc. It was working out great for most of the season. Practices were held at a local park, and my younger kids played on the playground while Kaitlyn and her team ran laps around the track.
One day, however, the coach decided that it would be a fun change to have the girls go on a run up in the hills adjacent to the park. I was busy watching my little ones on the playground, and when I turned around to see how Kaitlyn was doing — I couldn’t spot her or her team anywhere! I started to panic because I just had the feeling that she might go low. She hadn’t had a snack before practice like she usually did, and I knew that wherever she was, she was running and burning a lot of calories.
The longer I waited, the more panicked I became. I had a juice box and glucose meter in hand, but there was nothing I could do. I couldn’t leave my little ones to run after her, and even if I could, I didn’t know what trail they had taken anyway. My mind started running away with the worst possible scenario. Images of helicopters swooping in to come to Kaitlyn’s rescue came to my mind. It seemed like forever, but a few minutes later, her team came running down the hill. I had never been so relieved to see Kaitlyn smiling and happy and completely fine.
The second incident happened at Kaitlyn’s all-district choir festival. It was a concert held at our local theater for many of the schools in the district to sing together. I hadn’t thought much about it before we got there, but when Kaitlyn had gone to take her place on the stage and we took our seats in the audience, I soon realized how far I would be from her. It was a huge theater! There were 600 kids performing and several thousands of people in the audience. Our seats happened to be up on the balcony — five stories above the stage. We were so far away that I wished I had brought binoculars to see where Kaitlyn was sitting.
Again, I got that panicky feeling. What if she goes low, and I can’t do anything to help her? She was literally sitting in front of me, and I felt like she was completely out of reach. She had her continuous glucose monitor (CGM) but no sugar, and she was stuck on the stage. Even if she could leave the stage, there would be no way she would know where to find me. It was about an hour into the concert, and it was only half-way finished. I couldn’t stand it any longer, so I left my seat and went down to find her during one of the musical numbers from another group. Luckily, she was seated near the end, so I was able to talk to her quickly and discreetly. The CGM showed her perfectly in range and steady, so my mind was put at ease.
I learned several things from these experiences. I learned that it’s good to be prepared. We should always have a little sugar tucked away in her pack and talk about what to do in certain situations. I also learned that it’s okay to be the worried mom sometimes. If sneaking onto the stage in the middle of the performance is what I had to do, then so be it. Finally, I learned that Kaitlyn is growing up and that she will be placed in more and more situations that will put her out of my reach. I need to teach her, arm her with tools and technology, and then trust her to take care of herself.
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.