The Things that I have learned from Halloweens past

Its a rainy, windy Halloween morning.  One of my son’s is curled up in his bed waiting for the power to return to his home and my youngest son is off to scare little children during Halloween events at school.  Such is the life of family with teen aged boys. 

At this point in our lives, Halloween is no longer about treats and goodies.  We have begun to enjoy a few Halloween decorations and waiting to see what little ghosts and ghouls will arrive on our doorstep. 

What to do about Halloween parties at school and big bags of Halloween candy are no longer issues in our house. Reading worries from parents of children who are relatively newly diagnosed made me think that perhaps a recap of some of the things that I learned over the years may not be a bad topic for today. So here we go….

1.  Its okay to let him eat candy while he is out trick or treating. In fact, it should be encouraged (as long as usual Halloween safety rules are applied of course–Mom/Dad checks candy or it is from the home of a good family friend).  All of the walking, running and general excitement would always drop my son’s bg levels.  Letting him eat bars, rockets (Smarties for my US friends) and other treats was a fun way to keep him in range and allow him to be a “normal” child.

2.  Snack sized Halloween treats are fabulous for lows.  Chocolate bars work for those evening lows that aren’t lows yet but will be and a slow release of glucose would be ideal. Rockets and Starburst are great for keeping in your pocket or purse for those lows that need immediate sugar and your child thinks that they have one the little kid lottery!

3.  Snack sized treats are often equivalent to one fruit for anyone who may still use and exchange system and what child will not exchange a fruit for a bar? Well, my kids but they are weird!

4.  Snack sized chips are often equal to a slice of bread.  Again, for those on the exchange system, you can skip a slice of toast or a potato and switch in a bag of chips for the day as a special treat.

5.  Mom and Dad will eat the bulk of the candy.  My children had candy that would last until Easter and beyond.  Parents would gain weight while the children carefully savored each morsel. 

6. For those who have kids who will either not eat the candy or would overindulge, many parent exchange the treats through an Easter Witch or Great Pumpkin.  The treats are left out and gift cards or trinkets are delivered in exchange for the treats.  I have also heard of treats being packed up and given to homeless shelters or hospitals. 

7.  No matter how old your child is, he/she will most likely still want some of those treats.  The carb counts are now on most candies and for those that are not, there are many great resources that provide the counts on many other items so that your child does not “have” to go without on Halloween.

Halloween was a great time for my boys.  We drove all over the neighbourhood, met up with pals and had fun racing across lawns and warming up in cars.  Diabetes did not change this for them.  It meant that we brought a meter on our adventure.  Insulin was nearby but not always required. Basal rates were often dropped later that evening.  Sandwiches were packed but usually exchanged for hot dogs or chips for just this night. Juice boxes were a bonus when given out at the door as they added extra glucose to get to the next house. 

This year my youngest son will be greeting the little ghouls and handing out treats. He will be counting each child and hoping that we will have more treats than children so that he can enjoy a few bars for himself. He has great memories of Halloweens past and to me that is a sign of successful diabetes management.

Halloween..then and now

I recently was given the opportunity to read a post from D-Blog Mom on dealing with Halloween treats and diabetes.  It was great and brought back memories for me.

My son is no longer doing the trick or treating thing.  This is actually his first year of “retirement”.  He has decided that since he no longer knows the neighbourhood, its time to hang up his treat bag.

I remember back when Halloween was a time of fear.  We were on injections by the time my son started trick or treating and it was horrible.  We had to eat first before he could go out or bring him a meal with us (in our old neighbourhood, younger kids tended to go out early and therefore were home safe and sound before it got dark).  There was a lot of testing and him drooling over the candy unless he was low. Back in those days, I had to convince my children to go to more than a handful of houses.  They were never really into candy and were bored quickly.

As my son reached school age, I dreaded Halloween parties, but as D-Mom suggested, I used to go to all of the parties.  I wasn’t the only parent there.  It was a bit of an event at my children’s schools and many parents arrived in costume.  In our case, all treats were kept off to the side to be eaten later.  Cupcakes were only eaten if it was snack time or kept for lunch. 

Oh I am glad those days are behind us.  When my son went on an insulin pump, things became a bit easier.  He could eat his Halloween treats from school when he wanted (within reason) and we went door to door when we wanted to.  At that point, I began to enjoy Halloween a little more. He could be like a normal kid and eat treats on the run.  Lows were not a worry because we had a pillow case full of treats! Yes, as my children aged I no longer dragged them to one more house but wondered if they were ever coming home! We used cell phones and checked readings on a regular basis.  The downside was all of that walking and activity meant that I sat up most of the night waiting for him to crash.  It would happen but he enjoyed so it was worth it.  Yes I know I could have adjusted basal rates, and over time I did but things would usually still happen…the price for fun when living with diabetes and not always being the perfect pancreas.

This year my son has spent his time getting ready to scare little kids both at school and at home.  He has stayed after school to create the perfect haunted classroom for the younger students in school today.  He decorated the house with spiders, skulls and other ghoulish items.  He had me run out of purchase a bleeding mask to complete the effect.  He is a little depressed to think that he will not bring home a pillow case filled with treats on the 31st but I have no doubt he will have enough stuff anyways.  There is also always that chance that he will be convinced to go out one last time when Halloween actually arrives. The irony of his desire to fill a pillow case is that after all of these years, he still does not eat a quarter of what he collects!  Treats have always been split with the family.  Our waist lines say that no treats this year would be a good thing…our minds hope we have some left over treats on Monday 🙂 Have a safe and happy Halloween everyone!

Zombies Really are Scary!

I woke up unusually refreshed and knowing that it was time to test.  I glanced at the clock at saw that it was 2am as I headed out across the hall.  I was shocked when I saw that in the next room was a young man sitting up in his bed. 

“What are you doing awake?” 
No response.  He was staring at the blinking blue light on the floor coming from his video game system.

“What are you watching?”
Again, no response.

Okay, what the heck is going on here? I grabbed the meter from his dresser and prepared for the worst. 

He finally mumbled something unintelligible and laid down.

I tried to breathe.  I grabbed his hand and felt that it was cold and damp.  That could not be good. As I lanced his finger, the blood was slow to come out.  In our world that is a sure sign that he is low.  When he is high the blood pours out like water but when he’s low it seems more thick and hard to test.

I waited those five seconds for the reading. (Have I mentioned how much I love the improved technology over the past ten years?)  He was low.  Off to get the juice. The straw touched his lips and he began to drink.  Thank heavens for small miracles. 

I headed off to read for 15 minutes or so while waiting to see if he would go up.  He did but not enough for me to feel comfortable.  A little more sugar before my sleep. 

The next morning he remembered nothing. To him it was funny…and in an odd way it was.  He was like something from a Halloween horror movie and in any other context it might have been amusing.  Since we were dealing with diabetes and a low though I didn’t find it quite as amusing.