Over the past few months I have heard a lot of anxiety and stress when it comes to testing your child with diabetes’ blood glucose at night. Its a topic that can divide the diabetes community and raise blood pressure faster than the mention of Halle Berry or pumping versus multiple daily injections. It can create strife among friends and cause a serious strain on marital relationships.
I am a night tester. I have been for the past twelve plus years. I will continue to do it for as long as my son lives under my roof. When he leaves my home, ideally he will have a CGM (that he will use) that will take the place of his current CGM aka Mom.
My son sleeps soundly at night. He has looked the most peaceful when his bg levels have been out of whack. That terrifies me. In recent months, he has woken up to the occasional low–much to his dismay and his mother’s delight. I do not yet trust that this will happen all of the time and as one adult pointed out in The Diabetes Dad’s post on this topic, there is no telling how low he was or for how long before he woke up.
Dead in bed is a very real fear. Its something that too many people in our diabetes community have seen first hand. I was recently told that there are only four cases of dead in bed in the WORLD each year. The point was made to help quell over zealous fears but I think some fear is a good thing. It gives you respect–respect for a disease that is ruthless and deceptive.
Diabetes does not show itself in anything but bad attitudes, fatigue and occasionally nausea or thirst. You see it when a glucometer is pulled out, when a syringe is injected or pump peaks out from a belt around someones waist. It does not however tell you before you go to bed, “Please know that while you are sleeping peacefully well, and despite that basal adjustment you made for the yesterday’s activity last night, tonight your child’s insulin needs will still be low. Since you didn’t realize that and did not give him an extra snack or reduced basal rate, I will make sure that his blood glucose drops really low tonight. You won’t notice. He will be peaceful and you will sleep pretty sound after all of these nights of broken rest. Don’t worry, I will take care of things. I will deplete his liver of glycogen and this time? Well this time I will cause a seizure in his body, shaking his bed and waking the house. You will get to him in time, take him to the hospital but none of you will take me for granted again….until the next time.”
That is not the only reason that I test at night. I test out of respect and a desire for knowledge. Knowledge is power and if I do not test my son during the night, I have no idea about the highs and lows he may have experienced. He may go to bed and wake up in range but during those 10+ hours, he may also have been low, high and a few readings in between. I am only human. I will not catch them all but I will catch a few. I will get an idea and it will allow me to keep him healthy.
Night testing is a family choice. In my family, I choose to do it. I am not obsessed by it. I naturally wake multiple times during the night (and did this before diabetes moved in). When I wake, I am okay with stumbling into my son’s room and testing him. Its selfish–I feel better doing it. Again, the choice is yours. Do what works for your family but make sure your choice is an informed one.