I should have known that today was going to be rough. James and I were both exhausted last night, so when his CGM (continuous glucose monitor) sensor decided to stop working just before bed, both of us decided we’d rather get up in the night to check blood sugar than stay awake to get a new sensor set up. The plan was set. We’d test now, watch for trends, and based on what we saw, we figured we could do one test overnight to see how well we figured out his late dinnertime bolus and then do another (early) morning check. We felt good about our plan.
At around midnight, I woke up to test him, and things still looked really good. His blood sugar was in range, and that was that. In the morning, I woke up an hour earlier than I usually do — I usually get up at 5:00 a.m., so this was a very early 4:00 a.m. — and discovered that his blood sugar was too high to read on the meter! That’s when I heard a very loud noise and saw that the alarm on his pump was going off. It was unable to deliver insulin and had been sounding the alarm since about 12:20 a.m. last night. Yes, that is a mere 20 minutes after I left his room for his post-dinner check. And yes, that teenage boy can sleep through some loud alarms!
After that, I went to work getting his equipment up and running again. I first calculated an insulin dose and gave it to him via syringe so that I could make sure that everything was delivered properly. Then I moved on to fixing the errors on the pump, setting up the CGM, and getting that boy back to bed.
These kinds of days don’t happen often for us, but we’ve been at it long enough that they have happened before. James and I now have the technical skills to be able to correct the blood sugars and troubleshoot the tech, consulting our team when we have any questions. What might have been a panic moment ages ago no longer produces those emotions. Instead, I feel a combo of guilt and worry about the kind of day that James will be able to have when he finally does get out of bed.
Not having diabetes myself, I can only imagine the stress and strain that these incidents put on his body and his ability to feel rested. He is blessedly still sleeping as I write this, and I’ll encourage him to keep at it. We’re lucky he doesn’t have anyplace to be early this morning. Nonetheless, I plan on using a technique I learned from my mother, the educator, to help him through what could potentially be a rough day.
As a teacher, my mom worked mostly with early elementary students. These kids were very transparent about some of the things that they struggled with, and she could tell when somebody was just having a rough day. Her strategy with them was one of tenderness and mercy. She would bend down to talk to them and say, “I can tell you’re having a hard day. I’m so glad you’re here at school. Just do your best, be patient with yourself, and go a little slower if you need to. I know you can still have a really good day.” And she could see their little bodies relax and their attitudes change.
This sentiment, even her precise phrasing (with a little adaptation), is exactly what I want to communicate to James when he wakes up today. “James, it might be a hard day. I’m so glad we’ve got this morning together. Just do your best, be patient with yourself, and go a little slower if you need to. I know you can still have a really good day.”
Other than giving him lots of water to drink and this counsel, I don’t plan on changing much of anything from what we had planned this morning. If he can learn the lesson that life is about marching on in hope, renewal, and understanding, then he’ll be that much more prepared for anything life will throw at him. What may have started as a hard day then becomes a blessing, as it becomes a step toward the kind of life I want him to be able to live every day after this.
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.