Tag Archives: carbs

The Pressure of Managing a Type 1 Diabetic

The one thing people never talk about, is the pressure associated with managing a Type 1 Diabetic child. Yes this disease is manageable, yes, there are many devices that allow for better management of a relentless disease, but the underlying responsibility and pressure are forgotten in the fold.

As the parent to a Type 1 Diabetic child, my son’s existence relies on my ability to care for him. Working feverishly to maintain stable blood sugars can feel like a futile effort most days. Not letting a bad day with Diabetes define you, can be even harder.

There have been many nights that I sit and reflect on the day and feel the guilt of things I should have done differently. After all, we have been working at managing this beast called Type 1 Diabetes for over three years now, I should be a pro by now. What I don’t account for is human error, it is so difficult to function at one hundred percent, when working on only a few hours of interrupted sleep.

Type 1 Diabetes robs you of so much, it robs you of joy some days, robs you of sleep, robs you of peace, and piles immense pressure onto an already weakened spirit. Some days it feels like it is crushing you. Yet through the ashes, beneath all this disease robs, it pushes you to view life through a different lens.

Every day, every moment is a gift. We fight every moment of everyday for survival, and for normalcy. Yet, the pressure is still there. When a severe low, or massive high rear their ugly heads, the pressure to stabilize my son can be suffocating.

When I feel completely under attack from the pressure that managing Type 1 ensues, I find that changing the scenery can help. Once I get Carter stabilized I will take the kids out of the house, take them to the park. Getting out in the fresh air, and changing our view has a forgiving effect that helps me feel human again. It can be easy, sitting in the house, feverishly monitoring blood sugars, carb intakes, insulin on board, to forget there is more than survival, there is life to live.

Some days, I have to be forced. Forced to look at the bright side, forced to get out of the house, forced to find the silver lining. These are the days when the pressure can seem like it is too much, where I would pay for a break, but it’s on these days, when once we have found the joy, it is so much more meaningful, because we have had to fight for it.

When You Feel Numb

There are days when you just feel numb. Whether you are new to diagnosis, or like us, have been managing Type 1 Diabetes for the past three years, some days are harder than others.

Carter has been struggling with lows lately, and sickness has once again permeated our home. My oldest daughter is recovering from bronchitis, and I have been working feverishly to keep the virus from attaching itself to Carter, add-on being 11-weeks into my fourth pregnancy and it’s a recipe for ultimate exhaustion.
While making dinner tonight, I heard Carter’s dex receiver beep. It was his low alert, I called him downstairs and asked him to bring me his receiver and come to me in the kitchen so I could help him correct his low. He brought me his receiver, I grabbed a yogurt handed it to him and told him to eat it.

Carter walked out of the kitchen, placed the yogurt on the dining room table, and went back upstairs to play with his sisters, unbeknownst to me. A few minutes later I hear his urgent low alarm sound. I run out of the kitchen, look at his dex, he is now 55. I race upstairs and walk into my daughter’s room and see a dazed Carter sitting on the floor.
I grab him, grab the frosting from his bag and shove it in his mouth. Once he is rising, and has finally hit a number in range, out of pure frustration I yelled at him. I yelled at him for being so irresponsible, for creating an emergency that wasn’t needed, but mostly because he knowingly left me to be the only one caring about his low blood sugar. Eventually Carter understood the error he had made, and promised me he would work harder at following instructions so this doesn’t happen again.

Now that my son is peacefully asleep, with good blood sugars, I am overwhelmed with guilt and sorrow. I understand that my son is only 4-years-old, but by the same token, having been dealing with Type 1 Management for the past three years, he is well aware of what is required to keep him healthy. I am very open with my son with the care we must have to ensure his survival, and what that entails, as well as the ramifications of not following the regime. Not taking care of himself results in a hospital stay at best, at worst it means death.

When Type 1 Diabetes has been dealt, there is no time for games. No time to test the waters, the consequences of playing games is too costly. I can’t be the only one in this house who cares about his health. With Carter starting school in less than six months, he has to obtain an accountability for his care.

He has to grow up fast, it’s unfair, it sucks, but it’s necessary. If I wasn’t preparing him to care for himself without my presence, I wouldn’t be doing my job as a Mom.

So though I feel guilty, though I feel sorrow, I know these feelings are temporary, that tomorrow is a new day, and that with each incident Carter is learning a lesson. He’s learning what my expectations of him are, what he must do to stay healthy, that he is accountable, but most of all, even though there was anger, he knows it is out of immense love for him that I am so serious about his care.

May tomorrow be filled with more feeling, feelings of joy, feelings of love, and less filled with the numb walk of going through the motions of managing Type 1 Diabetes.

How Life Changes after Diagnosis

struggleAfter the immediate devastation of a Type 1 Diabetes diagnosis for your child, the ebb and flow of the severity of how life changes after diagnosis is difficult to describe.

On one hand, the diagnosis brings a determination you didn’t know you had.  A determination to enjoy the fullness life has to offer, a thirst for the faith you may have haphazardly thrown on the back burner, a newfound purpose, and all of these are found at the bottom of the hole you are forced to attempt to crawl out of.

As we approach our three-year mark of Carter’s Type 1 Diagnosis this November, I look back and see that I have been through the many stages of grief many, many times.  These days, it’s not really clear what brings the grief stages again.  Maybe it’s the after summer blues, maybe it’s watching your son explain what his insulin pump is to those who stare at the beach or the pool, maybe it’s the built up exhaustion, who knows, but I do know that some season’s suck more than others.

Watching your child grow up, carrying this burden is bittersweet.  I remember standing in the hospital during diagnosis week, and wishing for the day when Carter was able to understand, when he would then be able to  take an active role in his care.  That day has arrived, and it’s more heartbreaking than I anticipated.

Watching your child realize they are different from their peers is hard.  Birthday parties, getting together with their friends, going to the beach, going to the pool, having to constantly interrupt his fun to do a blood check, or correct puts a damper on his fun.

I don’t think the change is a one time event, I believe after a diagnosis of that magnitude, we are ever-changing, always evolving and taking on what comes next.  We are always growing, individually and as a family as it pertains to Carter’s care and management, most often within each moment.  No one day is ever the same, and the worries that each day bring are always different, and changing.

The hardest days for me, are the ones where I can sense Carter is tired of it all.  On those days, my heart breaks just a fraction more.  I would give anything to take this burden from my son.  It affects our whole family, as my daughters are left with a shell of a mother most days.  Lately, exhaustion takes over and I walk through the day an ill tempered zombie.  Always tired, always worrying, always only half present in what is going on as I watch Carter like a hawk.

Will it get better?  Until there is a cure, I don’t think so.  We have decent days, and have fallen into a routine that works for us, but it isn’t void of immense effort and complications.  The frustration and disappointment are too much to bear some days, but we preserver and move on.

My son and daughters, exemplify the forbearance of those who know where this path leads.  We’ve traversed this road more than once, and we know that we come out of these trials stronger.  All in all, I see how their brothers health worries them, especially Ashleigh.

We fall down.  We pick ourselves back up.  We cry, we laugh, we are like any family, we just cling a little closer, because we are faced with the threat of possible loss every minute of everyday.

Living under a Microscope

Carter and Ashleigh Park
Ashleigh and Carter, hanging out at the park – April 2013

These days, it certainly feels like I am living under a microscope when it comes to my sons Type 1 Diabetes.  Having to be in touch with his Endocrinology team every couple of days to discuss what he is eating, how his blood glucose numbers are, etc., it feels like I am always cramming for the final.  It can be discouraging when you speak with the “team” and they question everything you are doing, however in the end this is the only way they can gain the knowledge they need for your particular situation.  The most interesting as of late is the latest conversation I had with a nurse who suggested I speak with the nutritionist because they didn’t see enough variety on Carter’s log.  I should point out that the log consisted of a fine balance of foods, but the one food that was on there the most was sweet potato.  This nurse acted like the most consumed item was donuts.  I listened to her suggestion and reminded her that I have a 19 month old who, at this stage of his life is pretty particular with the foods he likes to consume and as his pallet expands, the possibilities will be endless.  She agreed and understood, and then went on to ask me why he had a couple of high numbers, basically what had I done differently.  That’s the thing, I hadn’t done anything differently, and again I know that they mean well and are gathering information in order to change his dosages of insulin, but it’s such a fine dance we do with young children who are diagnosed.  Everything they put in their mouths is our responsibility, and though we do our best to feed them well-balanced meals, at this age I find myself grasping at any carb my son will consume as we hover at the 1 hour mark since I gave him the insulin shot…..you know that fast acting insulin that takes effect in 30 minutes, right, now he is 1 hour in which means unless I cover those extra 20 grams of carb that I accounted for when preparing the shot Carter will plummet too low and we risk a coma.  So these days, though I make pork chops and dressing with peas and applesauce, Carter’s log shows pork chops, applesauce, yogurt, and a Hawaiian dinner roll.  Because let’s be honest here, when push comes to shove, if your child is refusing all healthy carbs, in order to avoid using the Glucagon pen, I will feed him whatever carbs he will consume.

Understanding Carbs for Juvenile Diabetes

Carter, peter pan
Disneyland trip – Jan. 2014 Standing in line to get on Peter Pan, which Carter loved.

When it comes to Juvenile Diabetes and understanding carbohydrates, it can be a difficult balance.  Tonight was the first night that we “winged it” carb wise with our son.  While at Disneyland I decided I wanted some Ice Cream, and my husband and I thought it would be nice for Carter to have a treat.  It honestly has been his first one in over two months, so we thought why not.  We let him indulge, somewhat and figured that we would just cover the extra carbs with another shot of insulin.  It wasn’t until after we were done that I started to momentarily panic, I had absolutely no idea how many carbs were in a scoop of Disneyland Ice Cream, furthermore, how would I know for sure how much they dished up into these sugar cone cups?  My mind raced, how much insulin would be enough, and how much would be too much?  My husband and I discussed back and forth what dosage we should give, and my husband even went into the shop to ask if they had nutritional information.  It was amazing to me, as I sat there trying to think like a pancreas, how our bodies are so finely tuned and makes these adjustments automatically.  I then realized how I had started settling into such a regimented feeding schedule that my son was missing out on all the fun ice cream days due to Juvenile Diabetes.  I decided I wanted to find a way to allow my son to have more choices, while still being carb conscious.  Though his age makes that a little difficult, I am going to be less consumed with having all of his carb allotments be only 100% nutritious, and allow him to be a kid.  Today was the first day that I allowed myself the permission to let him indulge and cover it with extra insulin.  It dawned on me that just because Carter had Type 1 Diabetes, doesn’t mean he can’t have an occasional “cheat day”, no one made this more clear to me then my husband.  My husband opened my eyes to the freedom of fun, since I am a stay at home mom, I am the one who administers the most shots and the one who if in direct contact with the endocrinologists.  Because of that I think I have been tainted by the pressure that is associated with calling in Carter’s numbers; tonight, my husband convinced me that it was OK to indulge and once I acquiesced it was heaven to watch my son enjoy himself so much.  We ended up deciding that an extra 1 unit of insulin was enough to cover the extra carbs that he ate with the ice cream treat, and when we got home and checked his blood sugar realized we chose correctly.  All in all, I think we all learned a lot tonight.  Carter was able to live like he wasn’t inflicted with Diabetes, my husband and I realized that the more comfortable we become with the insulin to carb ratios, the more freedom we will have in allowing our son to live life to the fullest, cheat days and all.

For more information on carb counting, visit the American Diabetes Association’s page