Recently we finished a really fun season of track and field. This was Kaitlyn’s second year doing it, and she did great! She has made improvements in her overall times for her running events and her scores for the field events. Most importantly, though, she’s learning the value of exercise and staying fit, and I believe she has become more confident competing against others. Track is an ideal sport for Kaitlyn, because by nature she is shy and hesitant, and track is all about improving personal bests.
I would never let type 1 diabetes get in the way of Kaitlyn doing a sport that she wanted to do. However, I have a couple of questions about how to handle the diabetes aspect, and I still don’t know if I’ve fully resolved these issues in my mind. My biggest question is: How much diabetes training does the coach really need?
When Kaitlyn was first diagnosed, I was 100 percent diligent about making sure everyone who cared for her was properly trained on what to do in an emergency. I had heard all sorts of scary stories, and I did not want to take any chances. I rarely left her with anyone except for my husband. I still remember the first babysitter we had after diagnosis. We were only leaving the kids for about an hour, but I trained her on everything! I’ll never forget the look on her face when I brought out the treatment for severe low blood sugar.
Everything went fine that night, but she didn’t end up coming back to babysit again! When Kaitlyn was in preschool, it was the same story. I stayed at the school most of the time, but when I got brave enough to leave, I gave the teacher a several-page document about her care and spent quite a while teaching her about all the ins and outs of diabetes. Luckily, the teacher was very accommodating and understanding, but looking back, I think I went overboard on what I expected the teacher to know and do.
Years have gone by now, and I have to admit that I have relaxed a lot! So—how much does the coach of a girl with Kaitlyn’s particular set of circumstances really need to know? I’m really cautious about freaking people out on our first meeting, so I usually give them just the basics. I make sure they’re aware of her condition and what to watch for, and I make sure they have my cell phone number if they have any concerns. I give Kaitlyn specific instructions on how often to check, and make sure she has juice boxes in her track bag. (And I make sure that I’m nearby, with treatment for severe low blood sugar on hand, and able to get there within minutes if needed.)
Am I handling these situations exactly right? I just don’t know. I don’t think I could live with myself if anything really went wrong, but at the same time, I don’t want to live in fear all the time. My rule of thumb is that if she’s away from me for less than two hours, I don’t give extensive training. For the track meets, which are several-hour events, I am always there. For the weekday practices, I choose to leave her with her coach. Every parent needs to decide for their own child, but for now, I’m sticking with that.
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.