I don’t think anyone could have guessed back in January 2020 what the year would hold for us. Let me say that a worldwide pandemic was not something planned on my calendar. Who would have thought that the world could shut down so quickly, drastically, and for so long? More than just experiencing a run on toilet paper and a shortage of meat and eggs, we were all affected socially, emotionally, and physically. Believe it or not, our family loved the time together without distraction and without the stresses of a busy schedule to juggle. That being said, there were plenty of other challenges that we dealt with.
Calling distance learning a challenge would be the understatement of the year. Let’s see, I counted 23 different teachers for all five of my kids, each with different expectations, learning platforms, logins and passwords, and video meeting schedules! I don’t think I can even count how many meetings we were late to or missed altogether. It was a full-time job for me just to keep everyone organized and on track.
Another challenge was that we were all home together with not a lot of space to spread out. My husband ended up setting up a home office in my youngest daughter’s bedroom because that was just about the only space that was quiet enough to do his work and hold audio meetings. The rest of us were spread out all over the house (bedrooms, family rooms, and even in the garage and in the backyard) to do school work, video meetings, exercise, and musical instrument practice.
We also had to really work on setting a routine of being productive, exercising, getting outside, and eating well. Without our regular schedules, it took real effort to not become depressed blobs on the couch. And, of course, it was hard to not be with our friends and family. We constantly joked that we were going to start hugging everybody when this was all over!
They were challenges, to be sure, but when viewed in the right light, they were all manageable and we got through it just fine.
The deepest worry for us was how to handle Kaitlyn’s type 1 diabetes if the world truly shut down. Since we had to do everything virtually, we ended up having a telehealth appointment with Kaitlyn’s endocrinologist. We couldn’t do bloodwork to get her A1C results at the office but were able to upload info from her pump and have the doctor adjust basal rates and carb ratios. It worked fine, and I really didn’t mind that we didn’t have to drive all the way down to the city for her appointment.
Another thing that was most worrisome to me was how people reacted to the whole situation. We watched in awe as people emptied paper goods from store shelves. Ridiculously long lines wrapped around the back of store buildings, and even online suppliers completely ran out of products due to panic buying. Based on this experience, I wondered what an even greater threat would bring. Would the world completely shut down? Would we be able to get the prescriptions we needed? Would the pump company shut down and not deliver supplies? Would we even have access to our doctor for appointments and concerns? We can live without toilet paper, but not without insulin.
Luckily, none of these worst-case scenarios happened. But it was a great wake-up call for us to take the time to really get prepared. I have always tried to have a good supply of food and other necessities on hand for emergencies, but diabetes supplies are probably the most important thing for us to have. I determined that as long as we had some key things to get us through — insulin, syringes, sugar, test strips, and meters with batteries — we would be fine. So now my focus is to have as much of these supplies on hand as possible. You never know when you or someone you love will need them.
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.