I can picture it now… Kaitlyn is lining up at the starting line. All the other runners are positioned and ready to start the race. All the parents and families are sitting in the bleachers. The official announces the race and makes the last call for runners to be in their place. The runners get in their lanes and the official is about to blow the whistle. I look down at Kaitlyn and see a tear in her eye… a tell-tale sign of low blood sugar for her. She’s looking pale and disoriented. “Stop!” I yell, from the bleachers. I run down to the field with Kaitlyn’s testing kit and several juice boxes while the spectators stare at the crazy mother and wonder what in the world is going on…
This is what’s going through my mind as we consider putting Kaitlyn in track and field this year with her two older siblings. Although the scenario I just described is probably a little bit of a stretch of the imagination, I can’t help being worried about how we’ll handle the new world of sports and diabetes. Kaitlyn is getting to the point now that her blood sugar can drop pretty quickly when she’s exerting a lot of energy. I was kind of nervous and had to watch pretty carefully at the school jog-a-thon last year. That was when she was in kindergarten, and they only spent about 10 minutes half walking and half jogging around the little track. As she gets older and can actually start exercising harder and longer, I know her numbers could drop even more. I really want to provide opportunities for Kaitlyn to be healthy and fit, but I’m trying to figure out how I can do it safely and without causing her embarrassment by being an overly interfering mom.
These are my ideas so far:
- Talk to the coach. I’ll be sure to talk to the coach about Kaitlyn’s diabetes beforehand, so that he’ll understand the reason for blood sugar checks and extra snacks. In my experience so far, most people are really understanding when it comes to helping Kaitlyn participate in activities. It will also be nice to have an extra pair of eyes to watch how Kaitlyn is doing.
- Check blood sugar a lot. If we keep a close eye on her numbers before, during and after the event, we’ll be able to catch any lows that might occur. Kaitlyn is getting really good at testing herself, but I’m still a little bit quicker, so I’ll probably try to do the testing for her on the days of an event.
- Keep her levels slightly higher. On the days of a sporting event or practice, I’ll give her a few more low-carb snacks so that her levels can stay on the high side of her recommended range. This will give me some peace of mind and should be a little safer for her as well.
- Have extra supplies. The last thing I would need is to run out of test strips and have to go home, or to get a low blood sugar reading and realize that we don’t have any juice or sugar with us. That’s never a good situation, but it would be especially bad at a sporting event.
Wish me luck! I’ll let you know how it all goes!
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.