The other day, I walked into the kitchen and saw a pile of candy wrappers. Kaitlyn was sitting nearby with her insulin pump out.
“What happened?” I said to her.
She looked at me with an uncertain and kind of guilty look on her face and said, “I don’t know. I was really low, and so I had some candy, but I think I had too much.”
Does this happen to anyone else? We’ve been taught by the doctors and nurses and diabetes educators exactly how many carb-grams worth of sugar to take when she’s low, but somehow, she usually ends up eating more than she meant to. When she’s especially low, I think her mind gets muddled, and she’s a little less patient than usual. She knows she doesn’t feel good, and she knows that sugar will help her feel better, so she goes almost into a frenzy of eating a lot of candy all at once, rather than eating just the right amount and then waiting 20 minutes to check again.
Another reason that she ends up eating too much is that candy tastes good! It would probably be a lot easier to just eat the right amount if fast-acting sugar tasted like kale! But no, she’s usually eating delicious candy. Who doesn’t love the taste of that! And when it’s “medicine,” it’s even better, because you have a valid excuse to indulge.
We know that the “right” way to do it is to have just the right amount of carbs of fast-acting sugar, wait 15 to 20 minutes, and then check blood sugar again. At that point, if she’s still low, she should take more. But what ends up happening is that she takes too much candy all at once, then ends up needing to give corrections with insulin to bring her blood sugar down again. At the end of the day, her blood sugar graph looks like a roller coaster dipping lower than the low line, and higher than the high line, all day long. It’s exhausting, and it doesn’t feel good when she’s chasing blood sugars like that all day.
We kept going through this exercise over and over again, so we recently decided that we would put little baggies together of “low candy.” This way, she can still have her favorites, but it’s already counted out in the right carb amounts, so she eats just the right portion instead of a random, huge handful. Each baggie has a little note on it that says, “Feeling low? Enjoy your candy, but remember to wait 15 minutes, and test again!”
Hopefully this proactive approach will help my girl get the sugar she needs, when she needs 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.