We hit a major milestone in the last couple months! My little 5-year-old Kaitlyn has learned to test her blood sugar! I wish I could take credit for taking this big step, but it was actually our great school nurse that took the initiative to teach her. I don't know why I hadn't thought of it before. I guess I was nervous about letting go of the control. Thinking about it now, checking her blood sugar levels is one of those life-long skills that she'll need to know. Just like getting dressed, brushing her teeth and tying her shoes, testing her blood sugar is something that she'll need to get used to!
The nurse did a great job of slowly having her do small parts of the process. At first, she just showed Kaitlyn how to put the test strip in the meter. Then she let her take the strip out of the container and put it in the meter. One at a time she learned to "cock" the lancing device, prick her finger, squeeze her finger to get a blood drop and put the blood drop on the strip. Eventually, with very careful supervision, she was doing the whole process on her own. When I realized how well she was doing with it, I started having her do it more and more at home. I watch her do it and only step in when she needs my help. I'm so proud of her, and she's pleased with herself too!
Kaitlyn still has a long way to go before she's taking care of her diabetes on her own. Our next goal is to start talking about what the numbers mean. She'll still always ask "Is that number high, low, or good?" She's also very far from being able to count carbs and give insulin on her own. I've come to the conclusion, though, that it's never too early to start learning. Recently my brother-in-law showed me a really neat app on his phone that's a game for kids with diabetes to learn carb counting. It shows pictures of different foods and the player has to guess from three choices how many carbs are in that food item. I was having a lot of fun testing my own knowledge, and I'm excited to let Kaitlyn try it as well.
I know that it will be a really long time before I can let Kaitlyn manage her diabetes care by herself. I can just picture her in college and me calling twice a day to see how her numbers have been. However, I'm starting to realize how important it is to let her learn, especially while she's showing interest in doing it. Now when she comes to me and says, "Mom, I'm hungry," I can say to her, "Go get your monitor so you can test your blood sugar!"
About the author: My name is Kim. My daughter Kaitlyn (the third of our five children) was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes just a few years after my nephew James was diagnosed with the same disease. I'm excited to pair up with my sister-in-law, Jen, to share our story with you!
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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