When you have Type 1 Diabetes, you don’t get to take a day off. You can’t ignore it (safely) and slacking on being prepared can have dangerous consequences.
Since I’m not the one in our family who has diabetes, I can’t tell you what it’s like for our daughter to live with it. But I can tell you more of what it’s like for us as her parents.
It’s persistent, ever-present, demanding, and confounding. You can do everything according to the specific ratios that were effective the days before, and get a totally different result. Talk about crazy-making!
Early on in our diagnosis, I was trying to be so careful, accounting for every tiny gram of carbohydrate while being unfamiliar with the process. I wanted our daughter to have access to any food she wanted, regardless of carbs. We’ve wanted to keep food neutral, not giving foods the power to be “good” or “bad” simply because they do or do not require insulin. Therefore, when she asked to have chocolate milk, I said yes and calculated the carbs into her shot.
Then I completely forgot to give her the chocolate milk.
Because I had accounted for chocolate milk, I had given her enough insulin to process the carbs in the chocolate milk. That meant that without the carbs to process, the insulin made her blood sugar drop.
I sent my daughter low.
I felt terrible.
I felt so responsible for endangering her, so inadequate to the task that was before me, so ill-equipped to manage something so potentially dangerous.
She was given some carbs, and her blood sugar rebounded quickly. It was not at all a crisis, but so early on, it felt like one. I had no idea how many times it would feel that way, reality or not.
That has dissipated some with gained knowledge and experience. It has not, however, become something that’s quite “second nature” to me yet. I don’t know if it ever will.
If you’re the stressed out parent or care giver of a young one with T1D, someone who could feel the tightness in your shoulders if only you could get a moment to think about how your shoulders felt, I get it.
Seriously. When you consider the task given to you, even with occasional slipups or miscalculations, you’re handling an amazing amount of information and subtleties that can be hard to articulate.
Humor me for a minute. Take this moment to inhale deeply through your nose, and slowly exhale out your mouth. I’m not kidding. Sit up straight, lower your shoulders, and take another long breath. Sometimes we have to take whatever moments we can get to breathe, slow down our busy brains, and hear this:
You’re doing it right.
You’re doing it well.
It’s going to be okay.
You can pick up T1D again in a few minutes, but right now, know that you’re not in this alone, even though it can feel like nobody understands what this is like. They probably don’t, but that doesn’t mean you’re on your own. There are lots of us out there, counting out free snacks, checking carb labels, refilling prescriptions, doing the things necessary to make this work. And we wouldn’t dream of calling those things a burden, because our children aren’t burdens, ever.
That doesn’t make it easy.
Hang in there. Drink some cool water. Sit in a sunny patch where the light comes through your window. Listen to the wind in the trees. Hang in there. You’re doing great. Go easy on yourself, and remember all the things you’re doing right.
We can all get through this together, until the day comes when there’s a cure and nobody has to do this anymore.
We can dream. And we can do it.