When Rocco leaves the nest to play in the neighborhood with friends, I have always been a little concerned about his diabetes management. Of course, exercise is the best thing a child can do if they have Type 1 diabetes. But exercise can lead to dangerously low blood sugar because it uses up stored sugar/glucose in the system. Most times Rocco can sense if he is getting too low, but not always. Therein lies the problem. To have him play at a neighbor's house where I can't see the signs of a low blood sugar is, well for me, a little scary.
As his mom, I know his signs for low blood sugar, although sometimes he will go low without clear symptoms. Only once have I ever been completely surprised.
In this picture his blood sugar is only 23. See, it's so hard to tell. I know this and can't rely on the untrained eye from a neighborhood mom to have him play freely.
Since that day, cocky Shari no longer exists. Now, I struggle between cocky, invisible Shari and overprotective, don't leave my sight Shari. It's a balance. It's also a balance to let a kid be kid. To let him play in his own neighborhood and not have his mom in the car two houses away. Because after the 23 episode, believe me, I would if I could. Just kidding. Sort of.... I know my fellow D moms are agreeing with me. Lol! I am not alone...
Now, I just check his blood sugar before he goes out, making sure that he’s at maybe 170 or 180 rather than the 130 we usually shoot for. If not, he’ll have a snack before he leaves. Then I pray and wait.
Also, I try to control my fears by looking for tools that will let him play freely while still being responsible with his diabetes. So last year I began packing a backpack with “diabetes tools” that he can bring with him. He has always been good about taking his diabetes stuff with him, but I just wanted to make this as seamless and unobtrusive as wearing his insulin pump. And I’ve found that Rocco, like other six-year-olds, has no problem at all carrying a neat backpack around.
Of course, the tools in the backpack must include his blood glucose monitor and some form of sugar. He also carries glucagon (which provides an injection of sugar for use if he should pass out), glucose tabs, a juice box and a cell phone. Yes, I know. Please don't make fun of me. I, at least, got the free flip phone that came with the $10 add-a-line. I got the phone because if he feels low he can call me so I can come get him. He used it three times last year and his blood sugar was low all three times, at 42, 57 and 61. On the plus side, Rocco usually can usually sense when he is getting low and can use his other tools to fix the situation. But the phone is an excellent backup if he becomes confused or needs some advice.
This is him learning how to text.
Funny side note:
This day was the first day he had the phone. He thought he was soooo cool. Even though it is officially "both boys" phone. Rocco took over. He spent the entire time out actually texting me and not playing with his friends. Here were the texts:
"I lov u"
"Zeke is plain" (playing)
"I fel prfict"
"I fel low"
I went to get him and he was 62. Best $10 I ever spent. Even if my 5 year old had a phone.
I did laugh at myself and said "if your kid still spells phonetically they shouldn't have a cell phone!" haha!
So, the backpack was a good idea, but today at my local Pottery Barn outlet, I found this! It's a bike bag! It snaps on the handle bars of his bike and can act as his backpack. It will always be with him, and he can have his stuff when he needs it without being saddled down.
I hope this idea is helpful to all you diabetes parents out there! If you don't want to spend the money or don't have a Pottery Barn store near you, I think you could do the same with a lunch box and sew some straps onto it. Send me pictures if you make one up!