Thanksgiving is right around the corner, and it’s our turn to spend it with my side of the family. It’s becoming more and more of a challenge to get together with the family, just because of our sheer numbers! This year, my parents decided to rent a huge house just outside Zion National Park for our Thanksgiving reunion. We’re all excited because it will be a place where we have enough room to accommodate everyone, with seven bedrooms, two kitchens, two laundry rooms, game rooms, a theater room and plenty of room for the kids to run outside. It’s going to be great!
Now comes the tricky part… getting organized and ready to spend five days with the whole crowd! In the past, holidays have been not only stressful, but tricky from a type 1 diabetes-care perspective. Here’s my most important to-do: Remember all of the supplies! Whenever we go on a trip far from home, we make sure we bring double or even triple the supplies we might need. If we were to run out of something or break an insulin vial, or the meter was to run out of batteries, we would be in quite a bind. Our packing list includes extra insulin, pump supplies, a back-up meter and lancing device, extra batteries, and more than enough test strips, lancets, syringes, alcohol prep pads, and juice. We even carry an extra copy of a prescription, just in case.
Here are some things we’ll be thinking about when planning our out-of-town holiday gathering:
- Waking Up at Night. Evan and I are notorious for sleeping through our alarms. I think that we’ve gotten so used to the noises of alarms and kids waking during the night that our brains just automatically tune those sounds out. The problem is, we sleep through alarms and babies crying, but not everyone else in the house does! If we’re especially concerned about Kaitlyn’s blood sugar we’ll probably set an alarm, but we don’t want to wake up the entire house! Our solution is to use our cell phone alarms. They’re quiet enough that the whole house won’t hear, but we can put them right by our heads and change the tone frequently enough so that we’ll actually wake up!
- Food. Whenever there is a huge group of people, there’s also a huge amount of food! Especially around Thanksgiving time, our family goes all out. Typically, the food isn’t super low-carb either! Evan and I are going to try to plan fun activities each day so that we’re not constantly sitting indoors and eating. We’re also planning to bring Kaitlyn’s own supply of low-carb and carb-free snacks to enjoy.
- Activity Level. No matter what they’re doing, when 15 cousins get together, the activity level is high. We’ve noticed that at family gatherings, Kaitlyn’s blood sugar has a tendency to run low from all the running around and playing. We plan to check a little bit more often to catch some of those lows.
- Remembering to Check. We have so much fun sitting and talking, playing games and doing other activities, that sometimes hours will go by and Evan and I look at each other and say, “When was the last time we checked Kaitlyn?” When we’re off of our usual routines, we sometimes forget to check or think that the other person has checked. Using my special baby timer or reminders on our phones are really great ways to help us remember.
- Germs. Whenever we get together with the whole family, it seems like we pass illnesses around like crazy — especially during the holidays when the weather is cool and we spend more time indoors. Consistent and frequent hand-washing and sanitizing are a must!
With enough planning and patience, I think our trip is going to be a great success!
About the author: My name is Kim. My daughter Kaitlyn (the third of our five children) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just a few years after my nephew James was diagnosed with the same disease. I’m excited to pair up with my sister-in-law, Jen, to share our story with you!
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.