As our month of “fails” continued, I encountered the one that was truly the toughest for me.
The irony is that this was probably of littlest note to outward observers. Part of what made it hard for me is that this incident, as opposed to the prior incidents, was more a true failing on my part rather than the silly serendipity of diabetes. Here’s what went down.
James had been so independent lately and so good about checking his blood sugar and bolusing for carbs that I think I expected a little too much of him. That was my first mistake. My second was not noticing the current trends. I picked James up from school on a Friday afternoon for his first team meeting with the robotics league. James was borderline low, but I was prepared (or so I thought). I had a nice snack ready to eat in the car. It had enough carbs in it that I thought it would keep him steady during the two-hour duration of his first team meeting.
I sent him to the meeting with a meter and his continuous glucose monitor (CGM). I instructed him to test if his CGM indicated that his blood sugar was out of range at all. And here I made my third and greatest mistake: I FORGOT TO SEND SUGAR WITH HIM!
So here’s how it played out. James went low (uncharacteristically) within that first hour. He had no more low supplies with him (they must have been depleted, as I generally keep some in the meter case), so he wandered around until he found something to eat. Turns out he got the mom hosting the team to make him a sandwich. Because his blood sugars were really trending low (and it turns out he was fighting a cold), the sandwich didn’t prove to be enough to keep his blood sugar up. When I came to pick him up, his CGM was still alerting to a mild low; and his behavior indicated that he was not okay. He was weepy and silly, and it had been a rather disastrous afternoon.
I felt SO bad for James. Honestly, this was the first moment in many months, if not years, that brought me to tears when the night was finally over and through. I sobbed to my husband that I had let James down; I had failed to give him the skills and support he needed; and the robotics league had turned disastrous.
I dreaded the next week’s meeting. I was avoiding talking about it. I should have discussed it with the team mom, but I just couldn’t find the time to do it. I felt too much stress and anticipation. So that day, I made sure he had every single supply he could need. He was happy as anything to be back at the robotics league. HE wasn’t as affected by last week’s negative meeting as I was! I had a nice long chat with the team mom and explained that this time around, I’d be calling one hour into the meeting to connect with James and make sure everything was okay. She was so understanding and nice. I still had anxiety, but I consoled myself by saying the meeting was ONLY two hours; I could survive.
I called James at the one-hour mark, and his blood sugar was just right where it needed to be one hour post-snack. When I came to pick him up, he looked happy and well. He was fitting in with his teammates. He was being productive and smiling. His blood sugar was in range. We made it!
In the end, while that “fail” produced more worry and stress for me than all the others of the long month, I’m most grateful for that experience. I needed to see that one bad meeting does not a bad season make. I needed to see again that we did have good steps in place, and that although our system was not perfect, we could still find a way to have the life we want to lead. I still have a hard time envisioning that first robotics team meeting as anything but a big “fail,” but I guess this time, failure was just what I needed.
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.