"Ouch!" is a word heard all too often when you have a child with type 1 diabetes. But because moms will do just about anything to comfort their kids, they often come up with genius ways to ease the pain. Here, moms (and a doctor) share their top tips.
Reward With a Book
"Going to the doctor is never a 'fun' event for my child, so I reward her with a trip to the bookstore for a book of her choice afterwards. That way, she has something to look forward to after the appointment, and I know I'm treating her to something educational and relatively inexpensive. This has helped our doctor's visits become much more enjoyable for all."
--Jackie, La Canada, Calif., mom of 4-year-old Lucy
"When you're testing blood sugar, ask your child what finger she wants to test (not if she wants to test), and then ask what she wants to do after the finger prick. Afterwards, an ice cube on the skin is a great, cheap anesthetic."
--Paul Strumph, M.D., pediatric endocrinologist and former chief medical officer of the JDRF
"My daughter uses an insulin pump now, which she likes so much better than having to get seven shots a day, as she did when she was first diagnosed. However, her site does need to be changed every three days, and the needle can hurt her. To make it less stressful, we keep a calendar in the bathroom so she can see when her next site change is expected, and it doesn't take her by surprise. She can tell me when she wants to do the site change (morning or night) to give her some feeling of control over the event. We do the change on our bed, and we let her choose a TV show to watch to distract her. We also have a new puppy who lies next to my daughter so she has someone to hug while we insert the needle. All of these things help to make the change smoother for her."
--Sue, Palatine, Ill., mom of 10-year-old Christina
"My child has been admitted to the hospital a few times, and my top tip is to bring as much entertainment as you can: a portable DVD player stocked with favorite movies, beloved stuffed animals, coloring books and crayons, and get-well notes or letters from classmates and pals. I arm myself with lots of craft supplies so we can make necklaces and bracelets together. I also bring my laptop so I can read her emails and messages from family friends. Keeping her occupied helps makes the time go by faster for all of us."
--Francine, Oklahoma City, Okla., mom of 7-year-old Katy
Switch It Up
"Rotate injection sites to ease the pain. We rotate between the stomach, arms, and thighs. I also encourage my son to listen to his MP3 player during the injections to distract him from the needle."
--Anne-Marie, Hoboken, N.J., mom of 13-year-old Simon
"At my house, we keep a teaspoon in the freezer at all times. Before injections, we push the spoon on the injection site for a few minutes, swipe with an alcohol pad, and then administer the injection. That has helped my daughter tolerate her injections much better."
--Lisa, Lawrence, Kan., mom of 11-year-old Audrey
Paint the Town
"When we go to doctors' appointments, we make a special day out of our trip to Phoenix. Think about exploring a new place such as a science center, a zoo, a baseball game, a park, a new restaurant or anything you think your child might enjoy. Attaching a positive experience to the day balances out their fears and worries."
--Jewels, Flagstaff, Ariz., mom of 10-year-old Emma
Award Brownie Points
"My daughter hates finger-pricking, so we've begun giving her stickers for each time she does it. Once she earns twenty stickers, I give her special privileges such as choosing our menu for an evening or selecting a movie for the family to watch. This builds up her confidence and gives her positive reinforcement."
--Susan, Orlando, Fla., mom of 6-year-old Jenna
"When we go to doctors' appointments, I make sure that my son brings his portable video game system, e-reader and headphones so he'll be occupied in the waiting room no matter how long we have to wait. That makes the visits more enjoyable for him… and for me, since I no longer have to hear his impatient complaints!"
--Celeste, Madison, Wis., mom of 14-year-old Christian
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the "typical" experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring.