Like many families, the kitchen table has always been a place where our family comes together. My wife, our three children, and I love the conversations we have there, which are as varied and unpredictable as one could imagine. Once a year though, all but one of us (our son, Turner) meet at the kitchen table with a specific purpose and have essentially the same conversation. In this unusual meeting, the four of us are much more serious and focused than normal; we are reminding ourselves how we would administer emergency treatment for severe low blood sugar if Turner, who has type 1 diabetes, ever has a severe hypoglycemic event. This meeting happens once a year, because we do this as one dose of emergency medication has expired, and we have just picked a new one up from the pharmacy.

Administering this medication is not a natural act for most people. There are multiple steps required that a person does not typically do during everyday type 1 diabetes management. Going through these steps while seeing a loved one in an emergency situation is extremely challenging. I’ve heard stories about people who have broken a needle off on the top of the vial. I have also heard stories of people who forgot to create the solution and simply administered the liquid in the syringe. We know that getting this treatment right in the event of a severe low could save Turner’s life one day.

Hence, we talk about the steps, and we practice. We practice on an orange. We rotate who in our family actually does the work of creating the treatment solution and injecting it into the orange. We need each of us, including William who is younger than his brother Turner, to be ready if Turner needs us.

I encourage families to have this annual meeting, too, and be ready to help their loved ones in a time of extreme need. Of course, our hope is that we never need to carry out this task for real. And I hope that for you and your loved ones, too.

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.

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