A family living well with type 1 diabetes.

Posts tagged ‘Tricks of the trade’

Hot Zone

It’s been lurking around the school since the start of the new year, picking kids off one by one. It started in Jenna’s classroom when one of her classmates let fly with a sudden barf-blitz that left one girl’s backpack covered, rendering it trash, and forced the rest of the class to the complete opposite side of the classroom to avoid the infectious, noxious nastiness.

I was bracing myself for Jenna’s first bout of a full-on case of gastroenteritis in all it’s abhorred glory after that day. I can honestly say I felt fear. The idea of my wee, insulin-dependent kindergartener throwing up for two or three days straight, unable to retain even the smallest amounts of solid, carbohydrate-providing food is enough to send me into a near panic state. This is mostly because I realize that a virus like that could easily land Jenna in hospital.

But days passed since the unfortunate “classroom yak-attack”, then weeks. Other kids came down with symptoms in the school here and there, but I started to feel comforted by the likelihood that Jenna had escaped the dreaded bug.

And then it happened again.

This time it was my older daughter’s classroom which is right across the hall from Jenna’s kinder class. I felt the all too familiar cold chill of fear when another Mom told me “Did you hear? So-and-so threw up in class today.”

“Oh NO! REALLY?!!” I’m certain my response seemed an over-reaction to this mom who appeared slightly taken aback by my concern, no doubt oblivious to the implications a stomach flu could have in my household.

I felt thrust back into the hot zone once more. I frequently detected the faint smell of emesis for days after, every time I entered the school. Perhaps it was my imagination … I don’t know. I wanted to keep my girls home until the danger had passed. But I didn’t. I wanted to follow the custodian around to ensure he was doing a good job of cleaning and disinfecting every bathroom stall, tap and door knob. But I didn’t do that either. Instead, I did what all parents do; I sent my kids to school per usual with extra reminders to wash their hands. What else can a parent do?

Then Jazmine vomited this past Friday afternoon after school. Game on.

I spent this weekend wrangling my daughter’s waist long hair out of the line of fire while she proceeded to involuntarily evacuate her stomach of all solid food taken, over and over and over again. For 36 straight hours she was unable to hold any sustenance down. Luckily, she was able to retain enough fluids to stay adequately hydrated.

But the real challenge was keeping the pathogen confined and away from Jenna. Luckily, we had no “misses”; Jaz hit the toilet or the bucket every time. But even still, it’s a messy ordeal that is not easily contained.

So, on Saturday Jenna spent the day with her daddy having lunch out at a restaurant then a movie and a trip to the book store, while Jazmine enjoyed a Gravol-induced nap and I cleaned house like a sleep deprived woman on a mission. Each bathroom was scrubbed and disinfected with a bleach solution, each counter top sanitized, each floor surface mopped. I even had time to run the vacuum and do some hot water loads of sheets and towels with a splash of bleach for good measure.

Jaz was finally able to retain food again mid-morning on Sunday. She is back to her usual, sweet self. Have we once more dodged a bullet and staved off what is no doubt, at some point, the inevitable? I don’t know. I’m almost afraid of getting too cocky at this point. Don’t want to tempt the fates. Jenna could still succumb to this vile bug, in spite of all our efforts.

But in the meantime, I’ve armed myself by boning up on my diabetes sick day management skills. I printed off the procedures for sick day management* and mini-glucagon dosing* from the BC Children’s Hospital website*. Even though I’ve read through these procedures several times in the past, a little refresher course never hurts. And now I feel better prepared to take on the dreaded barf bug while juggling diabetes if it is, in fact, in the cards for us to do so. Knowledge is power. And as lacking as our healthcare system can be at times, it is comforting to know it’s there for us should we need it.

Stay healthy, and if you can’t — stay knowledgeable. It just might save you a trip to acute care.

*Please note that these are Canadian procedures where we measure blood sugar in mmol/L, instead of the American measure of mg/dL. Also, this should in no way be considered medical advice. If you or your child is ill or experiencing flu symptoms you should consult your healthcare provider or diabetes medical team for assistance.

Enabling Independence.

Jenna is almost half way through her first year of school. She loves school! Kindergarten has been fun, exciting and full of growth and learning, not just for Jenna but for me as well. I’ve come quite a way from the worried and nervous mom I was at the start of the school year.

We have a routine now and it seems to be working quite nicely. We have found ways of doing things to ensure that Jenna has virtually the same opportunities as any child does while attending kindergarten and still remains safe. I can, in part, credit her student support worker (SSW), her teacher and the school for this success.

Oh sure, we’ve had a couple of hiccups along the way. We are, after all, blazing a bit of a trail here. There aren’t many children with diabetes as young as Jenna and on an insulin pump in the school system here. And every family has their different ways of managing their child’s diabetes. But with good communication and the setting aside of some egos, we (myself and the staff) have managed to maintain respect for one another’s perspectives while achieving our common goal of ensuring Jenna is safe and happy while at school.

At the start of the school year we set a goal for Jenna to start doing some of her own bolusing by Christmas while she is at school with the supervision of her SSW and with my telephone guidance. Presently, I go to the school twice a day, for morning snack and lunch to administer her insulin doses as no staff members at the school are permitted to do so. However, Christmas time is never a good time to initiate a new plan. So we all agreed to hold off until the new year when the dust of the holidays has settled and we are back into the groove at school.

So here we are, well over three weeks into the new year and back into our routine. Jenna is no stranger to bolusing herself with either my or her dad’s supervision. We have handed her her pump and walked her through the process on many occasions. But her motivation is lacking because, well, she’s a kid and she doesn’t want to have to take the time to engage in such tedious matters as inputting carb info and blood sugar results into a mini computer to receive an insulin dose recommendation then input that number and press GO prior to eating a yummy snack — not when Mommy can do it in a third of the time while Jenna can dig in and enjoy social time with her friends.

What kid would want to do that?

But, of course, she has to do that. This is the next small step in Jenna’s slow journey toward independence. So we’ve developed a little incentive program for her at school with the help of her teacher. Jenna is expected to give herself her snack bolus three times a week, on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, with supervision from her SSW and my counsel via mobile phone. She will receive a check mark on a special chart that her teacher has devised and at the end of the week, provided she has met her three-check goal, she gets special play time privileges and she gets to chose a friend to join her for this reward.

Sounds great, right? Well, we shall see. This plan is to be implemented today. In fact, I am going to park outside the school in about a half an hour to do our first phone bolus and still be close enough in case any unforeseen issues should arise. I slid the little, bare-bones cell phone we purchased last week into Jenna’s lunch kit this morning, ready for that first call. I will keep you posted.

The other little dilemma was, how do I provide a mobile phone for Jenna to use at the school to communicate with me for bolusing without it seeming to my 8 year old daughter –who is already asking, and has been for some time now, when she will get her own cell phone– like I am giving my 5 year old her own cell phone? I have had to be careful of language; I don’t refer to the cell phone as “Jenna’s cell phone”. That would give the wrong message to both girls. I explain that it is Mommy and Daddy’s cell phone. Of course, it was a bit of a hard sell for Jaz. But she does understand. Incidentally, Jaz has been bolusing Jenna lately on some occasions as well, and she is a pro at it. Yes, things are progressing nicely. My little girls are growing up.

It’s bittersweet, really.

Update: SHE DID IT! She just gave herself her first bolus without J or I present! I heard her little voice over the phone and I distinctly heard pride as she input the info and pressed GO, giving herself her insulin dose without me there. And I find myself oddly emotional about this rather huge step toward her independence. It reminds me of the first time either of my girls tried solid food after being strictly breastfed. Ah, but it’s all good. She’s taking the reigns. Slowly but surely, she is taking charge. :)

Organized Chaos Isn’t Working For Us.

That feeling when you go to grab a fresh container of test strips and realize you are down to your last one? Yeah. That feeling. It’s not pleasant, that feeling. There’s great comfort in having a freshly stocked cabinet (or drawer) full of diabetes supplies. It gives you a warm and fuzzy feeling all over, doesn’t it? And just as wonderful as those warm n’ fuzzies are – the feeling of realizing supplies have dwindled dangerously low is equally as dreadful.

I’m looking out at a bitterly cold, winter day with winds whipping up snow-devils into a twisting, flurry of white, frosty madness. It’s the kind of day where one is thankful for shelter and central heating. But for those of us dependent on external stuff to keep ourselves or our children alive, days like these cause our minds to ponder how well stocked we are with the things we require to sustain life. If things get dicey for an extended period of time, weather-wise, are there enough test strips, insulin and batteries to last? Organization is crucial to the management of diabetes supplies, right?

Which is why I am a shining example of organized D-parenting.

BAAAAhahahahaaaaa!!! I kid.

We keep all of Jenna’s supplies in (and around) a Rubbermaid drawer, arranged (not so) neatly on a shelf in our closet (amid the ties and shoes and baskets of skivvies), so that we can see at a glance (and a quick, profanity-laced rummage) if we are prepared for the unexpected.

Oh, alright. So our system could use an overhaul. Which brings me to this: How do you keep supplies organized, neat and tidy?

Since we have just moved and are still settling in, I’m looking for tips and tricks from all of you ultra-organized types. Tell me what you do. Let me learn from your wisdom. Inspire me. Please comment and if you write a D-blog, or even an organization blog, post links to blog posts you have done on this subject. Pictures would be nice too! Please help me get my diabetes sh–t together. Literally. I look forward to hearing from you. :)

Cheese It Up!

What do you do when your T1D kiddo is hyperglycemic, ravenously hungry and demanding a snack?

W H A T. D O. Y O U. D O?

Why, you fry up a little low fat, grated cheddar cheese, of course!

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Just grab a non-stick pan, tumble in a mound of cheese shreds, fry over medium heat for 5-6 minutes until the bubbles stop bursting, then remove to a plate and let your hungry little pancreatically challenged munchkin have-at!

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It doesn’t get much simpler than that and it’s so darn tasty!

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