We first heard about continuous glucose monitoring systems (CGMS) while we were in the hospital for James' initial diagnosis. The certified diabetes educator mentioned that she worked with parents who really enjoyed that kind of technology and the mountains of information that it provides. It sounded like a dream come true, but as a family, we weren't quite ready yet to hear about those high-tech products, let alone use them for James. Instead, we were making that huge adjustment to the world of needles and insulin and counting carbs, and that was enough (at least for us) for a little while.
But before we knew it, the everyday diabetes tasks had become our new reality -- we had adjusted -- and as an intellectually curious mom, anxious to make my child's world the best it could be, I found myself reading up on things like insulin pumps and monitoring systems. And I wanted them!
Our endocrinologist was very open to helping James get an insulin pump, and we were pretty excited about the kind of freedom that this would bring to our little guy. It was nice to know we didn't have to carry needles or vials around with us and that he could have more flexibility to eat whatever he wanted to without having to choose between food and avoiding a shot. The adjustment to the pump took a while though. As with everything in diabetes, there is a learning curve! (Now, we LOVE pumping and just can't look back!)
Our first foray into continous glucose monitoring wasn’t a raging success. In fact, it was an absolute failure. There were a number of reasons for this, and most of them have nothing to do with problems with the device itself. Instead, I think the failure can be attributed partly to James’ maturity levels and “where he was” -- that is, just barely coming into his own consciousness of having diabetes. He had a resistance to trying new things and adding more attachments to his body.
Another part of the failure was closely related: I failed to recognize his newly found awareness and account for it. I gave him hardly any information before I attempted to attach a sensor to his body. And he was NOT happy. In fact, it was his very first instance of severely disliking diabetes.
Because his reaction was so strong, we decided to take a break from using the CGMS for a little while. He clearly wasn’t ready, and I really felt that it was important to respect that.
After a few months we tried again, but it didn’t really “stick” this time. Once again, I think it was a case of not being ready, emotionally or otherwise. Learning new technology takes time.
But you know what they say -- third time is the charm! Well, it certainly was for us. James is wearing a sensor right now. It’s reading pretty accurately, and he’s really interested in what it has to say.
He’s ready. I helped him become ready. I learned from my mistake the first time around and made sure to involve him in the decision to try CGMS again for the third time. I showed him the device. I showed him the rather large needle on the sensor but promised him it wasn’t supposed to hurt. He was a part of the process at every step, and it made such a difference.
We are seriously LOVING this new device -- as much as we thought we might when we first heard about this technology all those long years ago. The road was long, and we made some mistakes along the way. But in this case, I think the missteps that we took paved the way for our third and successful attempt at a technology that really works for us. Moving forward really is the key.
About the author: My name is Jennifer, and I live in Southern California with my husband, Craig, and our three boys. Our oldest son James has been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. I’m thankful for this opportunity -- along with my sister-in-law Kim and her daughter Kaitlyn, who also has type 1 diabetes -- to share our struggles and triumphs with our friends in the diabetes community.
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. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.
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