“Mom, my tummy hurts, and I’m so hungry, and I just don’t feel well.” I hear these words coming from James’ brother Luke’s bedroom. I peek in and see that Luke’s color doesn’t look good. In fact, something has seemed off about him all week. He’s seemed both paler and more sluggish, like he has a fog about him somehow. It’s concerning. I think I even remember him asking for a lot more water than usual. And like many parents of children with type 1 diabetes, that prompts me to do one thing—whip out the glucometer and test him. I just have to know.
Doing so reminds me of other fateful blood sugar tests that I’ve witnessed and administered.
Like the one that started it all. James is in a doctor’s office. I mention that I suspect diabetes. The nurse brings over her industrial-sized meter that takes a huge sample of blood. She pokes James’ finger and adds his blood to the strip. It takes a few seconds to count down. I wait. It seems like it’s taking so long. Is it really only five seconds? And then she doesn’t say a thing. She simply exits the room. Minutes later, the doctor comes in and gives the news. James’ blood sugar is so high it is above the measuring capacity of the meter. Within minutes we’re on our way to the emergency room, and the rest is history.
Then there’s the blood sugar test that I administer myself. This time I’m an expert. I’ve tested James’ blood sugar hundreds if not thousands of times before. But this time I’m not testing James, I’m testing my niece Kaitlyn. My sister-in-law Kim tells me she is on her way to see me. She suspects diabetes. When they arrive, I take my niece’s small, delicate finger and poke it with a lancing device. I load Kaitlyn’s blood into the meter and wait. Five seconds can seem so long. Of course, as we know, her test results in an eventual diabetes diagnosis too.
Over the years I’ve tested other children. I don’t think I’m alone in this. The parents I know and have talked to test themselves or their other kids when they suspect something might be amiss. Thankfully, every other test for us has been a nice low “normal” number.
So here I am now at Luke’s bedside. He gives his finger reluctantly. He reacts when I poke him, unlike James who is just SO used to it. I load the blood onto the fresh test strip and wait JUST FIVE SECONDS. And his blood sugar is in range. He’s just experiencing a virus of some sort. No diabetes. Not yet. And hopefully not ever.
How many more excruciating seconds of waiting lie ahead for us? I’m not sure. But I’m pretty sure that whenever anyone around here is thirsty or sick to the tummy, and it isn’t easily explained by something that’s “going around,” they’re going to be tested, and we’re going to be watching that glucometer count down the slowest five seconds in the world.
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.