Important things to teach family and friends about your Diabetes
Every child learns differently at various stages of their lives, but as a single parent, it was especially important to teach my daughter about my diabetes management and care from the beginning so she could understand and help me if and when I needed someone.
I started teaching my daughter when she was a one-year-old, every time I did something related to my diabetes management, such as take blood sugar, change my infusion set, or take an extra shot of insulin, I told her why I was doing it. The questions soon followed, and I answered each one as best as I could to aid her understanding.
One day when my daughter was about two-years-oldI had a severe low in the middle of the night and didn’t get up the next morning. Back then, I didn’t have a continuous glucose monitor (CGM) yet, let alone a system like MiniMed™ that takes action in times like this. My daughter came into my bedroom to wake me up with her typical, “Mummy are you in there?!”, while trying to lift my eyelids. Then she started shaking me, “Mummy! Wake up! I’m hungry!” but I didn’t wake up.
I’m thankful we were living in an apartment in my parents converted garage at the time of the incident. My daughter got out the back door, walked through the garden into my parents’ home, found my father, and told him I wouldn’t wake up. I came out of it as my daughter was feeding me a half gallon of ice cream, and my father telling her not to stop until I finished every last bite.
After this incident, I realised I had to teach her more.
The next step was teaching her how to call the emergency telephone number– telling them our address, that mummy has diabetes, how to let them into the house, where the lockbox for the keys was (if needed to enter), and so on. I taught her what foods to give me to treat a low, and always kept orange juice and a tube of glucose on my nightstand.
When she was a little older, the training continued with how to give mommy injections, paving the way to make it easier for her to give me a glucagon injection if I ever needed it, and i did several years later. I reassured her injections didn’t hurt, even though they sometimes did, so she wouldn’t be afraid to do it in case of an emergency. Many times over the years, my daughter has come to my rescue when I had a low, and also when the high blood sugars were too much to be handled at home.
A few years ago, I was home taking care of my mum, who could no longer care for herself. After missing my usual phone call with my daughter that day, and her repeatedly trying to call me, she became worried. She instinctively knew something was wrong, so she called the emergency telephone number, 500 miles away, and the paramedics soon arrived at my house. I was low, but okay after the paramedics arrived. Now, I have MiniMed™ 640G*, which lets me know when my glucose levels are rising or falling and steps in to stop delivering insulin if my sensor hits a low limit.
Here are 7 important things I taught my daughter about my diabetes throughout the years:
- Signs of high blood sugar
- Signs of low blood sugar
- How to test your blood glucose (BG)
- Fast acting carbs to give in case of a low BG (only if you’re conscious enough to swallow)
- How and when to call the emergency telephone number, our phone number, address, and access into the house
- What to tell the operator when calling for help (i.e.: my parent has diabetes)
- When mature enough, how to give glucagon if needed
Just remember, not every child is going to be able to deal with diabetes at the same age as another child. You should be the judge of when and how much to teach your child, and at what point in time. Carefully word things so they don’t become scared, and reassure them they’re helping you, everything is going to be okay, and it’s always good to call for help, even if they’re unsure if help is needed.
*There are different MiniMed™ systems available. Please talk to your doctor to discuss whether pump therapy and continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) is right for you.
Originally published on The LOOP, Medtronic’s U.S. blog for people living with diabetes.