Please remember that I never give medical advice. Ask your endocrinologist or pediatrician for advice about your own child. Make your own informed decisions for your own child.
I know that each of us would take our child’s type 1 diabetes away from them in a second. And they are absolutely right when they say to us that we can’t possibly understand what it’s like to live with diabetes.
We can certainly have empathy for all they must do each day to manage their diabetes even if we can never truly experience it.
I can see changes in Q’s personality when her blood sugar is high or low. I can tell when it makes her feel awful.
Recently in going over protocols for standardized testing as dictated by her 504 plan, I reminded school staff that if her blood sugar is too high, her brain is like sludge and if her blood sugar is low, she literally doesn’t have fuel for her brain and can’t think straight.
Intellectually, I can describe what it’s like for her to have a low blood sugar. But I don’t really know.
This weekend I got a little insight that makes me appreciate even more what our children go through on a daily basis while dealing with diabetes.
I was upstairs sitting in my son’s room helping him organize Legos. I suddenly got incredibly hot and sweaty. I called down to my husband to turn down the heat.
I was so hot and sweaty that I began feeling claustrophobic in my socks.
My stomach became queasy and I thought I might vomit.
I put down what I was holding and glanced at my hands, which had begun shaking.
For a moment I thought I must be having a hot flash. I am, after all, in my forties and have heard that hot flashes can begin years before menopause begins.
And then I realized my blood sugar was low.
I shakily walked downstairs, paying attention to my feet on each step.
Out of curiosity, I went to the kitchen table, inserted a test strip, and put in a new lancet.*
I pricked my finger, remembering from past demonstrations for school staff, how much it really frickin hurts.
I squeezed a drop of blood and touched my finger to the test strip.
After the beep, a blood sugar of 69 mg/dL appeared.
Q came to my aid saying, “Since I have diabetes, I think you should drink this juice, lay in bed, and rest. That’s my advice.”
I posted a photo of my blood sugar to Facebook and an adult friend with diabetes asked how I felt.
I felt like crap. Absolute crap.
Sometimes when Q is low, she’s too engrossed in what she’s doing to really stop. Sometimes she’s in the middle of play practice or a basketball game and has to get right back in there. But sometimes she feels terrible and wants to lay down on the couch for a few minutes.
It’s heartbreaking to think that she might feel as horrible as I did that afternoon on a very frequent basis. It really gave me insight into what she feels. But even if I can be more empathetic now, I don’t have diabetes. But she will battle it for the rest of her life and feel that horrible over and over and over again.
*You should never share blood glucose meters or lancing devices.