Managing type 1 diabetes is like raising a child. Just when you think you’ve figured out what makes that kid tick, he or she throws you for a loop!

About (cough cough) years ago, I was convinced that potty-training was the worst part of parenting. That is, until my son Jonathan (the fourth of my five kids) started kindergarten. As much as he tried and we encouraged, he could not pull himself together and behave as he should. I got so many calls from school about Jonathan’s behavior, the principal and I were on a first-name basis. And that’s when I learned the best phrase in the world:

“Thanks for letting me know.”

Because…well, what else can you say? It’s not like we taught our child to be naughty at home! Some kids just throw you for a loop, despite your best efforts and intentions. There’s nothing you can do or read or learn to prepare yourself until you actually experience it.

And that’s pretty much what it’s like managing diabetes too. One moment you’re patting yourself on the back for getting that great A1c score or learning the perfect bolus strategy for that bowl of cereal. Then… pow! Something changes: a growth spurt, an illness, extra stress, a new sport. You name it — it will teach you how much you didn’t know.

Recently we’ve been thrown for a big loop, and I’m not sure we can blame it on a single event. Kaitlyn (our daughter with type 1) is going through a growth spurt right now and heading into those oh-so-lovely hormonal years. We also just got a new pump and CGM (continuous glucose monitor) system, and it’s been a tough transition. It’s been hard to get the supplies when we need them, and it’s been hard for Kaitlyn to remember how to navigate the menus on the pump and to calibrate at the right times. Just this morning, she forgot to press the final button to bolus for her breakfast and ended up with really high numbers by mid-morning. We’ve seen higher and lower numbers than I’ve seen in a long time, and we’ve gotten a lot less sleep lately too.

During my last “courtesy” call (which didn’t feel courteous at all) with the pump company’s representative, I again felt like that mom talking to her kid’s principal. The rep lectured me about how we could stay in range more of the time: “You need to calibrate more often. You need to bolus for meals 10 to 15 minutes ahead of time. You need to change the pump site every two to three days. You need to be more accurate with your carb counting.”

I was so annoyed, because what the heck — she’s not Kaitlyn’s doctor. She was probably some nice lady reading an FAQ or script of all of the things to tell new pumpers, but she probably did not have a kid with type 1 at home. What I wanted to say was, “Don’t you think I know ALL of those things? We’ve been doing this for nine years now! We’ve been dosing and calibrating and checking and changing and counting more times than you can even imagine. And guess what? Sometimes it still throws us for a loop!”

But instead, I sighed and said, “Thanks for letting me know.”

If diabetes really is like raising a child, then after phone calls like that, all you can do is simply take a deep breath and get back to it! And remember that you are making a difference. You know more than you think. And you are someone’s biggest hero.

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.

Related topics:
That OTHER Kid in Your Life
A Registry for That OTHER Kid in Your Life
The #1 Most Perfect Thing to Say to a T1D Parent

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