Category Archives: education

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.

Awareness

I have been big on awareness for years. I want everyone to know about diabetes. I want them to understand the signs and symptoms. I do not want another family to go through what we did when Liam was diagnosed. I want doctors to be thinking. I want parents to understand. I want caregivers to know the serious nature of this disease. I want teachers to be caring and thoughtful. I want to alleviate the fear of the unknown and simply allow the fear of what we do know. Its a healthy fear that garners respect for a horrible illness.

This has been a huge part of my life for almost 10 years now. I don’t think a lot about it. It is part of who I am. Liam has a very different take. Its something that is a part of him but its private. Its not to be shared. Its just to be lived with until a cure is found. He will get by. Leave him be and let him live his life. This means that when his teacher asked him to tell her about diabetes his only response was “I have no restriction on what I can eat.” That told her a lot! She thought he could out grow this. Boy did she learn a few things with me.

Recently I have become to see a third perspective when dealing with this disease. Its what I would have to call the car phenomenon. You know that when you buy a new car its perfect for you! No one else has a car like it. The color is unique. The styling is just yours…until you drive off the lot. Suddenly there are 10 other cars your color on your block! You see twenty other cars of the same model in the grocery store parking lot. Your special, unique car is EVERYWHERE! It turns out that the same can be said when you are introduced to someone with diabetes!

A friend of mine has two aging parents who live with Type 2 diabetes. They are able to manage with diet and exercise. The father has to test once or twice a day but his control is excellent. My friend had not really had much to do with someone with Type 1 until meeting my son. There was a kid that he went to school with. He knew that there were dietary restrictions and needles. He knew that the child didn’t always feel the best but it was nothing more than a fleeting memory.

He watched us with Liam and still didn’t quite get the full scope. Liam had a low and he knew that I was up through the night. He quickly heard the constant…”Liam did you test” and wondered how in the world the poor child handled that child of nagging. I tried to explain that it was necessary because Liam forgets two seconds after you tell him something. I didn’t push any learning and simply answered questions.

Imagine his surprise when he went to the grocery store and a man came and sat at his table with him. There were all sorts of other places but this guy decided to sit by my friend. He told him that his blood sugar was low and he had to eat now. I am guessing he told my friend this because he started his meal with his dessert and my friend was looking at him a little odd. My friend was blown away by the coincidence. He had only known Liam for a short time and now he was meeting a stranger who had diabetes as well.

As I said, its the car phenomenon all over again because the people he met did not stop there. He took his car to a garage to do some work. The owner’s wife has type 1. He took his moose to the butcher to be cut up. The butcher and his friend both had type 1. This was the biggest awakening for my friend. These gentlemen told him of the amputations and complications that they had experienced. The butcher showed him his pump and told him how important it was to his life. My friend and his brother walked away speechless. They now understood why I harped on to Liam about testing. He began to understand how terrible diabetes was. He is shocked by the number of people that he knows living with this disease but before meeting us, well it somehow never came up.