Category Archives: children with diabetes taking control

SupperNanny Tackles Type 1

I don’t think I have ever watched the show from start to finish. I never record shows anymore and I don’t know when I have had people go through so much trouble to find me a link to watch a TV show but here you have it…a bunch of firsts for me and a big Wow!

For those who never watch this show either, there is a TV show on called “Suppernanny“. She is a British lady who comes in and straightens out your family when you can’t do it on your own any more. In 41 minutes she fixes your marriage, makes all your children angels and teaches everyone how to get along with each other. This is why I don’t tend to watch it on a normal day. I am just not into shows that make life so black and white and pat. I had however heard that she would be going to help a family who had a child with Type 1 diabetes.

I don’t know if all diseases are like this, but those of us who live with Type 1 diabetes in our lives are harsh critics. I think it has to do with all of the misconceptions that we deal with on a regular basis. We are so used to defending and teaching that we are quick to judge when Type 1 diabetes is portrayed in the media. In our defence, a lot of media outlets do make horrific mistakes but still we are a tough crowd to get something past.

Supernanny had received a passing grade. No rave reviews now but most parents seemed to be impressed that she went in with a good general knowledge and was able to separate the disease from the child’s behavior. Now I was really curious! I had been traveling when it was originally aired but no fear because these things are always to be found online. I received three links to the show before I was given one that was usable outside of the US! Finally this morning I was able to sit down and watch it.

I was impressed. I still will not be watching the show but for a change the focus was on Type 1 diabetes. They didn’t fuss too much about the little boy who loved to pound on his sibling. They did focus on Mom’s fear that her son would die from Type 1 diabetes just has his grandfather had. They didn’t focus too much on the big sister who was sick and tired of cleaning up after two obnoxious little brothers. They did focus on the fight to get the child with Type 1 to eat all of his food. They showed blood glucose testing. They showed injections being injected. They showed carb counting and insulin calculations. They showed a child who refused to eat and threatened to vomit. They showed a child who could take 2 hours to finish a meal.

Now if Jo the Supernanny was also a super CDE then she would know to put the child on a different insulin regimen and no longer worry about feeding the insulin except in the case of lows. She would then be able to give the parents the power to say “If you don’t want to eat fine but you won’t be getting anything later” and mean it.

We are coming closer to 10 years since diagnosis with each passing day and some of what this family was dealing with I remember as if it was yesterday. Liam was 2 and this child was 5 but still both of them used food to control a situation that was well beyond their control. Liam would keep an entire meal in his cheek without swallowing. He would finally swallow only to vomit it all back up. He would take 2 hours to eat a pop tart. I would end up feeding him almost anything just so that he had the carbs to cover the insulin that was already in his system.

I will remain eternally grateful for the incredible support we had both in his diabetes clinic and through some wonderful people I met online. They finally got me to click in to the fact that if I didn’t inject him with the fast acting insulin he would be okay with minimal food. We were using NPH at the time and Humalog. As I learned how the insulins worked, I began to have power as a parent again. I could allow him to leave the table without touching his food and not worry about him passing out in 5 minutes. I was free to discipline him again and his doctor encouraged it! It was so liberating.

As you know if you have read my rantings before, I still get frustrated. I still get worried. I still have fears. I have to learn to move past them so that my soon to be teenaged son doesn’t continue to learn how to use those fears against me. We will be okay. He has a different way of taking care of himself but he is doing a good job. Together we will get through life and life with diabetes. One day he will be a confident, resourceful young man who just happens to have a life-threatening chronic illness.

Passing the reigns

Where does the time go? Its amazing how far we have come. Last year at this time, Liam was finally doing his first site changes. As you may remember, his doctor had ordered him to be doing this by his fall visit. The day before the said visit, he finally changed his site by himself. Now its old hat unless trying to insert in certain parts of his arms. At that point he tends to yell for Mom. He also tends to ask before jabbing a well used area.

At Liam’s fall visit, his doctor said that he had to take more control of his diabetes. He had to begin logging and looking at what is going on. Mom was terrified. He is so young to have all of this responsibility. What was the doctor thinking? He was thinking that it is better for Liam to make mistakes and learn now while Mom is there to hover over him than to make those same mistakes when he is off at university and Mom is nowhere to be seen. It made sense.

I am amazed and impressed at how well he is doing. Liam is not a big logger and I am sure that when this is completely up to him, he will never log another thing again. Mom is a big logger so until he is on his own he will log. Ah the power!

It is interesting to see him log though because I am seeing how much he has learned and understands. His log from this weekend for instance shows some major highs after a meal. He went up to the 20s (360+) and there is a note that says “forgot to add in syrup for pancakes”. I loved that he took the initiative to look around and see “why” was he so high and found a solution! My baby is growing up.

Before making any changes now, I also have him sit down with me. I try to do this at least once a week. We sit out his charts, I highlight the highs or lows, and then I ask Liam what he thinks. Do we adjust a basal rate or should we make a bolus change? He is usually pretty good about knowing what to do. We are even getting to the point of learning when the basal rate needs to be changed.

This entire concept still blows my mind–having a twelve year old responsible for so much. It scares me and then I realize that he has been watching all of this for almost ten years now. This has been his life. He has been learning for years. He has known since he was toddling around and trying to steal strawberries from the fridge that all of his food needed to be weighed and measured. He knows the carb factors for many foods and now has the scale and calculator handy every time he steals a cookie off of the counter.

We have come a long way. I never thought we would see a day when he could steal a cookie at anytime and eat it. Thank heavens for rapid acting insulin! He is in many ways a normal pre-teen. He is forgetful. He eats me out of house and home. He is special in many ways however. He has a lot to remember in his forgetfulness. He has to take over where his body has failed him. He must provide his cells with insulin. He must remember to test to keep himself in good shape. It is not an easy life but to watch him for the most part its nothing. Its amazing.

Letting go

This has been the strangest school year for me. Liam’s teacher quit the day before school started. He now has a substituted until the position is filled. I struggled to know what to send to school regarding information and what to ask for in regards to Liam’s care.

Liam has spent most of the summer doing his own care. He has been in charge of bolusing, testing, counting carbs, and changing sites. It has given both of us our freedom but being twelve he still forgets things. When he was home, Mom could remind him here and there and check on things. How would I handle this at school with a new teacher? Would I ask for someone to continue to hover over him or should I let him fly or fall on his own accord?

I have opted for the fly or fall approach and I am wondering if it was the right choice. I sent the teacher of the day a two paged letter on Liam’s care. It tells him when Liam should be testing, how he responds when high or low, and what the teacher needs to be aware of. I have not gone in to really speak with this teacher…mind you I know him and he has taught Liam before. I am really struggling with how much to let go and how much to control. I guess its learning to guide rather than doing it all and boy its not easy!

I realized this the other day when grocery shopping. I know grocery shopping? But as I was cruising through the aisles a woman said hello to me. I was not paying attention and didn’t notice her until our carts were side by side. She is a provincial minister and a lady that I have dealt with for a number of years on various diabetes related issues. She asked me how Liam was doing and what grade he was in now. I told her that he was in grade 7 and he was doing well. Mom on the other hand was having troubles letting go and knowing how much freedom to allow him. We chatted for a bit and then both went on our way.

Afterwards I began to further question what sort of accommodations does a child of his age need? Life is very different now than it was when he was six. He can handle his pump, make care decisions, and total his carbs in a blink. When he is low or high however, his judgement is still impaired. The danger of these situations have not changed and maybe they have become worse as he now “thinks” he can handle many of them without help.

I know that this is only the beginning. I know that my job has been and will continue to be, to be a teacher. I also realize that I have done a pretty good job so far. His decisions are not always what I would do. He has a more laid back attitude but its his disease, its his body. His results are what counts and the little rat somehow always manages to make good decisions.

I will continue to educate. I will continue to advocate. Liam will continue to grow and take over the care of his body and his disease.