Well, it’s that time of year again: I need to think about what kinds of goals I want to make for myself. One of the major things on my mind is helping Kaitlyn to begin to learn how to operate her insulin pump. For so long, I have felt that she wasn’t old enough to understand how to use her pump safely and that it wouldn’t be wise to try to teach her. I think we’ve finally come to the point now where it would be a good idea to get started. It’s funny, Kaitlyn always surprises me with how capable she is and what things she can learn. I think that taking this next step will give her a sense of accomplishment and help her begin to understand what she needs to do to responsibly manage her blood sugar.

I have to admit, I also have another motive for wanting to teach Kaitlyn to operate her pump. My oldest son, Daniel, is really growing into a mature and responsible kid, and I look forward to the day that I will have a built-in babysitter. I can practically taste the freedom that will come from being able to run out to the grocery store without having to have five kids in tow!

Of course, a couple of major things need to happen though before that can happen. For starters, Daniel needs to be familiar with how to give correction doses, bolus for meals and handle emergencies — especially diabetes-related ones. Secondly, Kaitlyn needs to learn how to operate her pump, give correction doses, bolus for meals, and read nutrition information on food packages, and to begin to understand how to estimate carbs when nutrition facts aren’t available.

I have several ideas for how I’m going to help Kaitlyn accomplish this goal:

  1. Teach vocabulary. The pump uses many words that she’ll need to understand and be familiar with: bolus, basal, carbs, ratio, IOB (insulin on board), etc.
  2. Build her number sense. She’s already pretty good at understanding which numbers are “too low,” “too high” and “in range.” Her pump counts up by fives, so she’s getting really good at doing that too! I’m going to focus on helping her understand what numbers make sense when figuring out grams of carbohydrates and units of insulin. I want her to recognize, for example, that 500 grams of carbohydrates wouldn’t be right — no normal amount of food would contain that. And she would never need 20 units of insulin for a meal. As I help her understand her typical carb counts and units of insulin, I think we’ll be able to avoid big scary mistakes.
  3. Teach her to read nutrition labels. So far, she’s learning how to find that big “C” word on the package. “Carbohydrates” is a word that she doesn’t know how to spell yet, but she’s learning to recognize it and where to find it on a package. She will also need to understand what a serving size means. This will take some time, but I think the sooner we start, the better.

Of course, this is going to take lots of time and practice. Slowly, I’ll let her do more and more, and eventually she’ll be able to tell me about something she wants to eat, how many carbs she’s getting and how much insulin the pump is giving her. I know she can do it!

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:
A Year-by-Year Guide to Type 1 Self-Care
Jen: Our Big Independence Plan
Kim: “I Did It All by Myself!”

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