My son Colton is a two-year-old toddler with type 1 diabetes (T1D). Every morning we wake up planning another successful day in the logs. Yes, you read that correctly. I said logs, as in, blood sugar logs. As many of you who live with T1D know, his days are carefully crafted around activities, counting, eating, resting and repeating. As parents, we know it takes a great deal of care and forethought to plan around the things we can “control,” but alas, the variable is Colton.
My wife and I plan his site changes, meals, naps and activities around his T1D. We do these things in an effort to reduce the roller coaster that is his blood sugar as he terrorizes through another day at school. Despite our best efforts, we can’t predict his mood, activity level, and his meltdowns (yes, these cause a change in blood sugar) or if he may, with the skill of a magician, swipe a peer’s unattended snack. All of these variables are why parents of children with T1D struggle to maintain a “normal” range, because in reality, we know there is no such thing.
On a day that his blood sugar stays above 250, as a parent, I feel terrible. Why? Because I know that he feels terrible when he runs high all day. After a pattern is identified, we decide to make a change…AGAIN. Masterfully, we adjust his doses and diet hoping we are making a change for the better. We review his schedule for the next day to anticipate how it may impact his blood sugars and make micro adjustments to his insulin, meals and snacks. The following day, we learn that he is running low and we spend the majority of that day chasing him with glucose tabs and juice to combat the lows, which also make him feel terrible.
A sluggish and glassy-eyed toddler needs his support team to watch over him closely with a CGM receiver in one hand and a peanut butter cracker in the other. Then what? We take it one day at a time and try to let our son be a toddler. As much as we would like to prevent all of these variables from affecting his day, we know that we can’t. T1D is a constant game of chess that keeps even the best parents guessing from time to time. We know we will, at times, change our approach from offensive to defensive depending on how Colton is doing.
We reflect on the day in the evening as we tired parents quietly fist bump over another successful day in the logs. We quickly review his charts, prepare meals, count carbs and then get into bed for some precious rest in hopes of sleeping through the night while the rollercoaster stays on the track.