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Helping Children with Diabetes Gain Independence

Arden's Day Blog

Arden's Day is a type I diabetes care giver blog written by author Scott Benner. Scott has been a stay-at-home dad since 2000, he is the author of the award winning parenting memoir, 'Life Is Short, Laundry Is Eternal'. Arden's Day is an honest and transparent look at life with diabetes - since 2007.

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Helping Children with Diabetes Gain Independence

Scott Benner

This is part four of my six part series on helping children with diabetes to gain independence. I wrote this series for the makers of OmniPod, they are running it on their blog called, Suite D. If you missed them you can read the first three parts on Arden's Day here or on Insulet's site.

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Part 4: Diabetes Management Plan

I began part one of this series by talking about technology and how it aids my family every day while we manage our daughter Arden’s type 1 diabetes. In part two, I spoke about the health and educational issues that lead me to want to do things differently. In part three, I jumped to the end of the story by sharing proof of my changes in the form of a much lower A1C and the elimination of missed class time. Today, I’d like to talk about the nuts and bolts of Arden’s diabetes management plan. It’s super simple…yet amazingly effective!

I’ll begin in the early morning because starting the day with a manageable blood glucose number gives you a reasonable chance of getting the rest of the day to follow suit. I like to check Arden’s blood glucose about an hour before her alarm is set to go off so that I can knock a high blood glucose or try to adjust a lower number with a temp basal. We test when Arden rises and pre-bolus for breakfast. The timing of the breakfast bolus is planned so that no more than two hours goes by before our next blood glucose look-in at 9:30 AM.

In between the breakfast bolus and 9:30 AM, Arden will text me if her CGM indicates that her blood glucose has gone below our low limit, above our high limit or shows arrows that indicate a fast rise or fall in her blood glucose. Most days, however, I don’t hear from her until the 9:30 AM pre-snack look-in. Both of our phones are programmed with matching alarms to remind us of CGM checks, pre-bolus needs, blood glucose testing and activities, such as gym class. The alarms are a back-up, as there are times that we both need reminding.

Arden’s text will arrive as simply as this: 140 >.

Depending on the situation I may say something like, “15 carbs,” “test” or “juice.” Arden responds in a few moments with the suggested bolus, a blood glucose reading from a finger stick or a suggestion for a different source of carbs. Our conversations generally last less than two minutes.

The next alarm sounds 15 minutes before lunch and we always test. I like, when the situation allows, to have Arden pre-bolus lunch unless her blood glucose is borderline. When that happens I have her bolus some of the lunch carbs early and then we do the rest when she is seated in the cafeteria. Arden’s 504 plan allows her to leave for lunch five minutes early everyday so that she can settle in and communicate with me prior to the insanity that surrounds the children piling into the cafeteria. We normally speak to each other at this look-in because there is a lot more going on surrounding a meal than during a simple CGM check or test and bolus. Our 504 plan also allows for us to call each other whenever we need, at any time of the day.

Two hours later, we take a look at the CGM. Too much lunch insulin? Not enough? This is a great time to find out and the check gets us ready for the bus ride that’s coming in a couple of hours.

Handling Low Blood Glucose Readings at School

At this point you are wondering how we handle low blood glucose levels, am I correct?

We have a stash of juice boxes, pre counted snacks and water in Arden’s classroom. Additionally, Arden carries herOmniPod PDM, CGM, lancing device, test strips, fast-acting glucose and a juice with her in a small purse. The combination of well-timed look-ins and our reminder alarms stave off most unexpected lows, but they still happen. Last week Arden’s blood glucose was falling fast during gym class. I received the following text…

“61 arrow down”

I replied, “juice then test.”

This is the moment when you have to trust the system because you have to wait for a minute or two to allow time for drinking and re-testing. It can be nerve-wracking…I won’t lie.

Arden: “Juice in.”

Me: “Dizzy?”

Arden: “No, I want to go back to gym.”

Me: “Calling.”

We spoke on the phone and Arden told me that her CGM arrow was already turning back up, she did not feel dizzy and reiterated that she wanted to go back to the activity.

As much as moments like these can scare me, most of the fear that I’m feeling is really Arden gaining independence, and of course, me giving away control. But isn’t that what I want and is there really a better way for her to learn?

Read the series

part 1
part 2
part 3
Currently reading
part 6 

Please know that I was compensated for my writing in an amount that would be considered standard for freelance blogging. My family pays for Arden's OmniPods with insurance and out of pocket cash. My writing for Insulet has no impact on my opinions or the information that I share here or anywhere online.