Last week I read this very interesting article on Diabetes Mine. And by interesting I mean I had to try hard to keep my composure while I reading it. Wil did a great job trying to be partial in all of this, but he kind of blew it for me when he said, “Yes, I think the new D-parenting style has created a generation of ‘spoiled brats.’”
In short a gentleman wrote in and basically asked Wil why parents these days go overboard when taking care of their children’s diabetes. “Tired parents and Nighttime checks? Phbtt! Back in my day…that wasn’t needed!” Ok. That isn’t a direct quote. But it’s the gist I got from it all.
I know a lot of you don’t do nighttime checks. Different strokes for different folks. It’s all good. But let me take a minute to defend the D’rents of today. Most of us are on top of our child’s care…exhaustingly so.
Why does it seem to be so much more exhausting to take care of a child with diabetes now than it did back in the good ol’ days?
Hmmm. Could it possibly be that we KNOW more now than we did back in the good ol’ days? Back then I didn’t wear a seatbelt. Ever. Back then my baby sister rode in a bassinette between the front two bucket seats in the van. Back then chewing on cribs painted with lead was no biggy. Bike helmets? Nope. Back then everyone smoked. Back then 5 year olds walked downtown to buy candy at the corner store, by themselves. (Guilty as charged.)
Now we have more in-for-ma-tion.
Yes, probably too much information. But it’s staring me in the face every minute of every day nonetheless. Am I to ignore it because, “They’ll probably be fine.”
Let’s start out with what I know.
I know that a tighter A1C with smaller BG swings means less complications down the road for my children.
I know that when my kids sleep it is the ONLY time of the day that I have less than 10 variables to contend with. During the day I have limited control over varibles such as exercise, food, stress, excitement and weather. At night I have their control in the palm of my hand. Why would I give up that advantage?
At FFL I learned that if you check your sugar 4-6 times a day the probability of getting an A1C in the 8’s goes way up. If you check 6-8 times a day the probability of an A1C in the 7’s is very high. In fact this class contented that your “control” is mostly based on putting in the work. I can't tell you if all that is true, but research suggests, the harder you try the better you'll do.
As Reyna says HERE, that is 1/3 of my boys’ lives that I can have in check. Since my children don’t snack after dinner unless they are low, I contend that is half of my boys’ lives that I can have in check.
Do you have any idea how positively that influences my boys' A1C’s?
Now let’s backtrack a little. I don’t stay up at night for shiz and giggles. I don’t pat myself on the back and act as though I’m a martyr for my boys. The bags under my eyes aren’t badges of honor.
I check at night when it is needed.
You see with all this information comes responsibility. If you had a child with Diabetes, and they went low every night, or high every night, wouldn’t you feel a responsibility to check on it and find a way to fix it? We can check ketones with a blood meter now. If my child has ketones, wouldn’t I work at night to get rid of them so they don’t feel completely crappy the next day?
Would you let a 279 fly at midnight right before you were off to bed? Maybe you would. But I wouldn’t, because I know fixing that 279 helps my son wake up with a good number…feeling his best. Cognitively at his best, ready to tackle his day at school. Which if you haven’t heard, is much harder than when we were kids. (I took naps in 1st grade. Seriously. The whole class did. My 1st graders had to write 12 page reports, with bibliographies, followed up by composed and thoughtful oral reports.)
Have I let a 279 fly before without correcting it? Sure. If they have been LOW LOW LOW all night and I finally see a safe number, you bet your SOBE water I’m going to keep them there. Though it is rare, I realize there are always exceptions to the rule.
I know our family is weird, but we have three boys with T1. There is RARELY a night when someone doesn’t need a correction, or needs to be fed. RARELY. And because I’ve been doing this for 15 years, I’ve caught a scary number of lows I would have never known about if I didn’t test. Dead in Bed Syndrome. I think all of us say, “Hell no!” Not that we all don’t know it could still happen to our family, but if it did, wouldn’t I want the peace of mind to say, “I tried?”
There are so many variables to my nighttime routine, I can’t write them here. (Although Christina and Katy did good jobs trying to HERE and HERE.) Suffice it to say, I go by my gut. A lot of nights a 12:00 check is enough…once in awhile every hour is hardly enough. Did you know that children do most of their growing at night? Did you know this active growing effects their blood sugars? So I could go months with no worries about the nighttime, but then BAM! Growth spurt and all their basal rates go out the window! That means adjusting. That means checking at night. And by the way, it seems like one of my boys is always growing.
In this new age, we have CGM’s and blood sugar monitors that give us numbers in 3 seconds. Why wouldn’t I use that technology to the best of my ability to make for a better future for my children? I’m the one that has to look at them in the eye when they are 40 and say, “I did the best I could.” Even in the event of them facing complications from this crappy disease. And speaking of technology: If my boys pump sets ripped out at 10pm, and I didn’t check them until morning, they would be in DKA. Period.
Am I stressing my kids out by taking such good care of them?
That is WHY I take good care of them, to take the stress off them. In my situation, my boys were diagnosed as babies. (I’m not exaggerating; my first was diagnosed at 8 months old.) I do things like test their sugars before they wake up, so it doesn’t have to be the first thing they do in the morning. I don’t make a big deal about diabetes. It is what it is. Maybe I’m different than other parents, but I think that “Spoiled brat” that Wil spoke about in the Diabetes Mine article is an exception to the rule. Or maybe he’s just a TEENAGER? I don’t know.
But I’ll tell you that by 6th grade my now 15-year-old son was changing his own pump sets and counting his own carbs. My 11 year old has just begun counting his own carbs, and he’s already pretty awesome at it. This year he will learn to change his sets too, he already rewinds the pump and takes the reservoir out when it’s time to change the set. I pass on the responsibility little by little so it doesn’t seem so much as responsibility, but more like FREEDOM. Power to go on sleepovers and power to go on a bike ride with a friend without mom ringing him on the cellphone. (And yeah, my boys have cheap flip phones. We have no school nurse…another thing that was available to us back in the good ol’ days.)
One day my boys will move away. One day they’ll be ALL on their own. On that day, I’ll wish I could help them a little bit longer, because that’s what mothers do. They love and cherish and help.
Am I a tiger mom?
I honestly don’t think so. In fact, I’m going to flat out say, “No, I’m not.”
I’m a mom doing the best she can, with the information she has.
Also, I have never, ever, in my life met a T1 child who was not mature, sweet, kind and all kinds of wonderful. There are always a few bad seeds out there that ruin it for everyone else. But generalizing is dangerous, and in this case, grossly unfair.
And that's all I have to say about that.