Sleepovers | Type 1 diabetes in tow

Brothers SleepingIt’s something we did early on with family, when Caleb was four years old and newly diagnosed. It proved to be an overly stressful situation. Invites were few and then non-existent.

Eight years later, Caleb is a tween in middle school and is invited for the first time ever to a friend’s house for a birthday party sleepover.

As with other milestones in his diabetes care, I took the cue from Caleb. He wanted to go. He developed a close group of friends in his new school and was excited about the party. Most notably, he did not even mention diabetes.

It’s often the first thing he thinks of, and a factor in choosing whether or not to do something. I see it in his face as the questions form: “who will be there, what kind of food will there be, how will I know if it has peanuts, how will I count carbs, what if I’m high, what if I’m low, what is this event about anyway? oh, who cares, it’s too much trouble, no thank you.”

This time the only question he had was, “Can I go, PLEEEEEEEZE?!?!?!?”

So he went.

There were a mountain of variables complicating blood sugar management, and by “complicating” I mean “bringing hell to earth”. He went to the party straight from a baseball game. Games vary in intensity and there is often some kind of blood sugar clean up needed on the other side. He arrived to ginormo pieces of ice cream cake – he was a late arrival because of the game and they were kind enough to hold off so he could be included. I’m not kidding when I say these pieces of cake were huge. Caleb often sends pictures of food with his hand in it as a point of reference for carb counting. His hand was dwarfed by the size of the piece of cake. And did I mention it was ice cream?  “Happy birthday to yous” transitioned to an intense and seemingly never-ending match of manhunt. Movies, snacks, chatting and at some point in the wee hours boys were starting to fall asleep.

Blood sugars were all over the map. Gus, juice boxes, sugar tabs, correction boluses, extended boluses – they were all in play. There was a period of about 45 minutes where Caleb and I were texting each other while everyone else was asleep because we needed to be sure he recovered from a low and was safe to sleep.

It was a nuisance and it was disruptive, but Caleb did not complain once. He rolled with it. He was responsible and attentive to his diabetes, but he did not worry about it. He was in communication with me, but also made decisions on his own. Not all of them worked out, but he took corrective action as he needed.

All I could think of the next morning was what a mess his bgs were and how tired he must be. When I picked him up, all he had to say was what a great time he had, and filled me in on a litany of details of tween-boy, fun activities.

CousinsTwo months later, he’s invited to his cousin’s new home for a sleepover with his brother and sister. Variables are fewer and blood sugars are much more cooperative. Caleb, who never ever wakes up to Dexcom alerts, blood sugar checks, or screaming sirens in his ear, set an alarm on his phone to wake and check at 2am. And he did! Bg was a magical 150 and it’s right back to sleep for him, nothing else to talk about until morning.

Sleepovers with type 1 diabetes – it seemed like the one “thing” we hadn’t yet dealt with and it was a gloomy cloud hanging over me, pulling at me, giving me angst. Although I’m not worry-free about the prospect of future sleepovers, Caleb has shown me he can be responsible and do what is needed to fit diabetes, the thing he can’t leave behind, into the fun he doesn’t want to miss.

Forgetting Diabetes | Impact of Dexcom G4 and CGM in the Cloud

IMG_9106Minimizing Caleb’s disruption at school is paramount. Prioritizing this is less about restricting his classroom instruction, although that is an important right of his, but more about preserving his emotional health.

Every time Caleb has to perform a diabetes care task, it’s a reminder that he is different and that he has a burden from which those around him are free. It divides his attention from whatever is happening in his day, that those around him can give full attention. My goal is to minimize those disruptions, aka: reminders at the hope of avoiding burnout.

  • In first grade we minimized visits to the nurse’s office. He checked in class and the nurse came to him.
  • In third grade we removed the need for nurse supervision – he used a classroom phone to contact me when a care decision needed to be made.
  • In fourth grade we utilized the school wifi system to allow him to text with me for added discretion.
  • In sixth grade we introduced CGM in the Cloud.

In general, Caleb is more independent in his care. Where we used to have defined times to check in, now he checks in at his discretion.

There are even days when I don’t hear from him at all and the only diabetes task he has done at school is to bolus for lunch, and at that time, give Dexcom a look. On those days he’s had exactly one interruption to his day because of diabetes. Just one. It’s a taste of normalcy that struck me the first time it happened. It felt luxurious – like being pampered by not having to give this beast attention whenever it demanded it, which is something we’ve grown used to.

Because there are still beastly days, and you never really know when when they will be,  we’re always on guard for it. So when the luxury days occur, they are relishable.

We’ve been able to eliminate the schedule because of Dexcom and CGM in the Cloud. We trust Dexcom. Caleb’s been using it for six years and the G4 has fantastic accuracy. We allow it to watch his blood sugar and let Caleb know when it needs attention. The addition of CGM in the Cloud means I also get alerts when Caleb’s blood sugar needs attention, no matter where he is.

We therefore think less about it. Neither of us wonder what might be happening. I’m not worried that he might be distracted and forgetting to address his blood sugar, Dexcom and Share2 are keeping watch for us.

We are allowed to forget about diabetes, even if it’s just for a little while, and it’s fantastic.

Caleb has used both the Nightscout and Dexcom Share2 CGM in the Cloud systems. 

I am neither a doctor nor certified medical practitioner. How Caleb and I choose to manage his diabetes should not be taken as medical advice. Please consult with your doctor any treatment decisions.