As a parent of a type I diabetic child, you receive a ton of information from your doctors and specialists. Unfortunately there is also a lot of information they don't share that could save you headaches, frustration and lost sleep. Here are the top five things that the doctor's don't tell you about your type I diabetic child, but should.
1. You will never sleep soundly again. There will always be worry in the back of your mind that when you go to wake your child in the morning they will not wake up, and they will have died to an overnight low. This is a real danger with a diabetic child, but it is a rare event. There is also evidence that “dead in bed syndrome,” as it is called, might be linked to undiagnosed heart issues. However, even knowing this won’t be enough to allow you to sleep soundly. What might help you sleep better in the future is news that the new Medtronic pumps when used with the continuous glucose monitor will be able to stop administrating insulin and sound an alarm with a low trend is detected. But, even then you will probably worry that you’ll miss the alarm. It’s normal to worry, especially when your child has a chronic, life-threatening condition. Just remember the odds are likely on your side and it’s a worry that all parents of diabetics carry. You’re not alone.
2. Carbs are now your nemesis. While your child needs carbs to survive, you will quickly learn your life is now a battle to measure out carbs and keep them at acceptable levels. You will gasp in awe and despair as you realize how many carbs truly are in the foods your kid loves. And how few carbs are in the foods your kid hates.
3. Ziploc bags and a Sharpie are your best friends. As you battle your nemesis, carbs, you will find two tools are indispensable- Ziploc bags and sharpies. These two tools make it possible to pack your kid snacks to go without it turning into a miserable guessing game when it comes to dosing. If you truly want to get ahead of the game, break things into serving sizes and put them in marked Ziplocs as soon as you bring them in the house. Then, there is no guessing at how much your child can eat and how many carbs it will be.
4. You will find a new respect for McDonalds. I’m not a huge McDonald’s fan, aside from their unsweetened iced tea. However, after my daughter got diagnosed, McDonald’s became our safe place for a quick meal on the go. Why? McDonalds has the carbs printed right on the labels of everything you buy there, except the sauces. You can actually go out to dinner and not spend an hour on your iPhone trying to find out what the carbs in the meal might add up to. I wish all restaurants would follow McDonald’s lead.
5. Your child has turned into Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I never realized that people could actually have split personalities until my daughter was diagnosed as diabetic. Blood sugar can do crazy things to the way a person acts and behaves towards the people around them. When my daughter is high, she will argue about anything, including whether or not she is currently arguing about something. She gets mean and contrary and does not want to cooperate with anything. When she is not high, she’s a sweet cheerful kid. The highs bring out Dr. Jekyll, and I wish her doctors would have told us how much highs and lows affect her personality. It would have helped us avoid taking the mood swings personally at first. Now we know that her blood sugar makes it hard for her, and when we point out that her high is making her grumpy she is able to control her mood better because she knows what is causing it.