As our children get older our family is sometimes required to split up to accomplish everything on our calendar. You know, our son Cole my have a baseball game on one side of town while Arden has a game three towns over, stuff like that. Kelly and I never like to miss the kids stuff but it happens.
Last week presented us with a twist on that theme when Kelly's job took her to London the day before I was to leave for a Florida based college baseball recruiting weekend with Cole. Kelly left on Wednesday and was returning late on Friday night. I was leaving early Thursday morning and not returning until Sunday evening. Arden had school on Thursday, she was off Friday - okay, you following the set up? Kelly in London, Scott in Florida, one day of school and a day off to cover before Kelly returned home... what ever should we do?
My first inclination was to take Arden to Florida but that would mean her missing a day of school and to be honest, I didn't want to buy her a plane ticket and drag her from one hot baseball field to another, she would not have enjoyed the trip and I wouldn't enjoy spending the money.
Too expensive + too boring + too much school missed = Arden stays home.
The only person available to stay with Arden at our home was my mother and she knows exactly zero about managing type 1 diabetes, but did it matter that she didn't know anything about the day-to-day of type 1? Not if I can see Arden's BG on my phone it doesn't.
I thought about all that could 'go wrong' while I was gone and wondered if I could control the variables remotely, the possible issues that I could image were:
Could Go Wrong
- OmniPod insulin pump could need to be changed (Arden can do this on her own.)
- Dexcom sensor could need to be changed (Arden has never done this but without the Dexcom, none of this works.)
- Overnight (Arden wouldn't wake up overnight if a tugboat crashed into our house.)
- School (I can run school remotely as we normally do... as long as my plane had WiFi)
Plan for Could Go Wrong
- If a pod needs to be swapped Arden will do it but we don't keep insulin at school so I sent Arden to school on Thursday with pods and insulin and wrote to the nurse explaining what was going on. CHECK!
- Having a working Dexcom is the lynchpin to this entire plan and neither I or Kelly can come home if it stopped working. Arden has never changed a sensor by herself. Hmmm, wait... a boy in Cole's grade wears a Dexcom! I called his mother (who I know at best tangentially) and explained the situation. I told her that it was unlikely that Arden would let her try to put a sensor on her but asked if she could be there to oversee if necessary. She rocks and agreed to help if needed! CHECK!
- Overnight what I really needed was an adult to answer the phone and wake up Arden for me, my mom can handle that. CHECK!
- I booked a flight on an airline that has WiFi. Kelly was prepared in London to take over while I was in the air should I encountered a connection issue. CHECK!
Best laid plans and all, but how did it go in the real world?
Everything worked out as planned. I woke up early for the plane, made Arden's lunch, counted carbs and packed up her pods and insulin. My mom woke Arden up in the morning, we texted while she was getting dressed to get her BG in place for the morning. The WiFi on the plane was great but we still maintained a multi-person text message thread so Kelly could watch what was happening from London and take over if I dropped out of the thread. We bolused once or twice while Arden was at school that morning, all from 35,000 feet.
I was on the ground for Arden's lunch time pre-bolus and on a ball field when it was time to talk about her pre-bus routine. My mom cooked dinner and I pre-boluses for it. On Friday I managed Arden's BGs and mealtime insulin from my phone while Cole made the catch you'll see below. Arden changed her OmniPod during a playdate late that afternoon without incident. Kelly returned to our house around midnight and took over the diabetes stuff. I slept that night like a baby.
My Take Away...
With a reasonable, but not heavy amount of pre-planning, we left our eleven year old daughter at home with a person who had almost no working knowledge of type 1 diabetes and everything was fine. Arden experienced a low BG (53 on Dex, 61 by finger stick) Thursday night around 2:30 am. My Dexcom Follow app alerted me, I called and woke up my mother who in turn woke up Arden and she drank juice as I instructed. I then waited up to make sure that the juice had the desired effect and when all was good about twenty minutes later, I went back to sleep confident that I would be alerted if something changed. In the twenty-four hour period that began at school and ended with that low, Arden's Bg was mostly stable, largely in range and only spiked to 200 twice. Two spikes and one low felt like a huge win to me.
Tomorrow night Arden goes to a sleepover at a friends house, no one in the home has the slightest idea about type 1. We will arrive ten minutes early to install the Dexcom Follow app on the mother's phone, I'll talk about how to handle emergencies and that'll be it.
Your Take Away...
I'm forever telling you that diabetes and fear do not have to go together and I wholeheartedly believe those words. Last week I put my money where my mouth is for two reasons. A. It was the right thing to do for my family and B. I wanted you to see that even in this completely odd and distant situation, things would work out.
I want to encourage you to take a chance too. Who knows, maybe you can move your life with diabetes a bit closer to where you want it to be.
I'll be talking more about this trip and other topics on next weeks episode (#34) of my podcast. If you haven't tried the Juicebox Podcast yet, it is available on this site, iTunes, Stitcher and everywhere else that podcasts are available. Subscribe today to be automatically notified when new episodes are online - It is 100% free.