Several weeks ago, I looked at Kaitlyn’s continuous glucose monitor (CGM) right before bed and let out a sigh. Her blood sugar graph for the day looked like the Swiss Alps—definitely not an in-range-all-day sort of day.
Why is it that we can’t seem to stay between the red (high) and yellow (low) lines? We have the tools! The CGM will give us a live reading of her blood sugar, and we can make corrections with the touch of a button on her pump or by giving juice when she’s low. I think that, generally speaking, we never really need to get too far out of range.
Yet there are many reasons why blood sugar levels can go out of range, and we all know the usual suspects: eating certain foods, exercising, forgetting to bolus or bolusing incorrectly, going through a growth spurt, being disconnected from the pump for too long, sleeping through alarms, being stressed or excited … the list goes on and on. We’ve discovered that the main reason for us is simply a lack of paying close enough attention.
After talking with our diabetes care team, I’ve come up with several solutions to our problem. We’ve been working on implementing these solutions lately, and it has helped a lot.
- The first solution was to tighten the range on the CGM settings. Our “low line” is now higher and our “high line” is quite a bit lower. This helps so much, because it gives us an earlier warning when Kaitlyn’s going low or high. As every type 1 parent knows, blood sugar levels can move incredibly fast, and corrections take a little bit of time to kick in. If the alarm goes off before she’s out of range, hopefully we’ll have time to make the correction before she goes too far out of range.
- The second solution was to retrain myself to “check” her blood sugar in close and regular intervals. This was a regular habit before we had the CGM, but unfortunately I think I’ve become too relaxed knowing that the CGM is always taking blood sugar readings. Hence, I don’t remember to do it all the time. It doesn’t do anybody any good if we’re not paying attention to the readings, so I’ve been training myself to look much more often.
- The third solution was to set up a reward system for Kaitlyn. She generally has the CGM on her all the time, so we can make sure she is close enough to the receiver to get a reading. Even though we have the alarms set to go off when she’s high or low, often I’m not close enough to hear them, and Kaitlyn is simply not paying attention. We loaded up our prize drawer with a lot of little toys and trinkets, and every time Kaitlyn notices that the CGM reading is out of range right away and comes to tell me about it, she gets to pick a prize.
These solutions have helped so much. Are there still times when Kaitlyn goes out of range? Yes. However, the highs do not go as high, the lows do not go as low, and the length of time that she’s out of range is not as long. I can go to bed at night after looking at her graph and feel really satisfied that we did everything we could, and Kaitlyn feels better and happier as well.
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.