What is life like with type 1 diabetes?
Every person is different but for us and many others, a typical day is like that of anyone else. With control of blood sugars, there is nothing that a person with T1D cannot do. Controlling blood sugars means lots of blood glucose monitoring, carbohydrate counting, calculating insulin requirements, managing sports and play with extra tests and carbohydrates. Juggling fast and slow acting carbohydrates and carrying a kit and emergency aids around everywhere. For example a typical day for a child at school would be the same as for most children but they would also have to remember that Diabetes is tagging along with them and pack insulin, spare needles or pump equipment, testing kit, (making sure there are enough testing strips, batteries, and lancets) hypo treatments (for when sugar is low) and keep safely together in a bag, pocket or pouch and keep it with them all the time.
Adult help with all this is almost always needed. Too much or too little insulin can be very dangerous and blood sugars can often be unpredictable. Exams, illness, hormones, holidays, sleepovers, parties, and growing can also play a part in blood sugars being unpredictable and needing further intensive monitoring and treatment with an adult.
Ways to help
A day off is never an option, but there are ways to lessen the burden.
A different adult can take responsibility to test the child through the day and/or night and administer the correct amount of insulin.
When preparing a packed lunch, a list of carbs per item can be a useful guide to calculate bolus insulin requirements. Similarly if meals are cooked for the freezer, write carbs per portion on the label.
Parents and their children can agree that they will not discuss levels at great length , unless they are out of range and more testing or actions need to be taken. Parents or carers of older children who are testing themselves, can always look at the monitor and see the tests through the school day rather than quiz their child after school.
T1D is there all the time, but conversation about it doesn’t have to be. To take the emphasis off it and focus on doing something fun can make a world of difference.
Planning a little here and there and thinking through events and discussing what the effects of whatever the activity may be to T1D and making a rough plan on how to deal with this, can also help.
Expecting and accepting that sometimes, the levels will simply not behave how you thought will also lessen the pressure.
All this is easier said than done and in our house, these are all things we struggle with frequently!