I just have to follow up on last month’s post about James’ play date fail. For a refresher, James and I had a bit of a sad moment together when he wasn’t able to participate in a play date. It was particularly heart-wrenching because James felt that the reason he couldn’t go to this fun event was because of his diabetes. And in some ways, he was right. I have tried from the time of first diagnosis never to say no to anything because of diabetes, to give James the life of a normal kid in every way possible. But sometimes things just happen, and in this particular case, I felt like I couldn’t let him go to his buddy’s home because of some really out-of-range blood sugars.
The good news is that the following week the play date totally worked out. I confess, it was still difficult for me to let my little guy go. His friend’s home is on a two-acre avocado farm with a swimming pool and multiple dogs, so it’s pretty much James’ heaven. This time around, one week later, we were prepared!
Here’s what we did. First, James had an “easy” breakfast. He didn’t eat a ton of carbs, and he ate foods that we’re really used to counting. In other words, he ate highly predictable foods. I tried to eliminate as many variables as possible in order to set us up for success.
Second, I sent James out with pockets full of diabetes equipment. Okay, picture this: He is wearing cargo shorts, and in one pocket, he had his insulin pump. The pump is attached via tubing to his body, and it has proven to be made of some pretty tough stuff. I felt reasonably confident no amount of hard playing would cause the pump to be lost or damaged. Next, in his lower cargo pocket, he had a small glucometer. In addition to the meter itself, I had provided lots of test strips and put some candy pieces in the pocket. This way he could test himself wherever he was playing on the two-acre property and deal with lows easily and effectively. Finally, in a little miniature pack around his waist, I placed the continuous glucose monitoring device. This thing is a little delicate and was my biggest hesitation. But it was also an extra piece of information to help James in case his blood sugar started to drop quickly . The pack around his waist was a little more reliable than pockets, since it could be fully zipped up. I felt like this was crucial on such a large property.
You might note that he still had at least one pocket available … I’m thinking that in the future, adding a cell phone might be appropriate. We know kids James’ age with diabetes that do have cell phones. They are incredibly useful for those families who choose to use them. But we haven’t QUITE reached that level of responsibility yet. Maybe next year!
The final thing I did to make sure we were ready was to have a talk with both boys and with the play date host. I explained that James was actually pretty good at knowing what to do if his blood sugar went low or high. But he might need a little reminder to check out why the continuous glucose monitoring system is beeping and deal with it appropriately, or to remember to do a scheduled blood sugar test.
With all these steps in place, I dropped him off. And he had a great time.
With that one success under our belt, I think we both feel more confident. I think the trust I placed in James is actually helping him to be more interested and involved in the diabetes management process. And it’s helping me to feel more at ease as he moves through the increasingly more complicated social world as he gets older. Bring on the play dates!
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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