Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Taking MySentry For A Test Drive

I am surely behind on discussing this.  Like all of the cool kids, most of you have already used or at the least heard about Medtronic's MySentry.

We are borrowing one for a short time to see how it works for our family, most especially, our teenager that loves to stay up and sleep in until noon on the weekends.

Not having used it for very long, I am not overly qualified to give raw data regarding accuracy or technicalities.  I can only speak about lifestyle and really, just our lifestyle of living with two girls that also live with t1d.  

First thing we noticed is that this baby is easy!  The set-up? Open box, plug, sync and play.  

Literally, two minutes after walking into our front door, oldest daughter spied the box and immediately had it up and running.  I know she is technology maven, but it was so simple, I am certain anyone could do this.  Any by anyone, I mean me.

After marveling at her bg number - because this was a real school day number - totally amazing!, we found ourselves noticing some of the other cool features.  The length of time on her Enlite sensor, the amount of insulin in her pump and the life of her battery.  Super fun to see.

As a parent, it was also great to once again watch the blood sugar without pestering my oldest daughter.  Her younger sister is wearing the Dexcom and I often hold the receiver while she plays.  With the Medtronic 530g, much of the daily data is in my oldest daughter's hands and I am unable to see what is happening unless I sneak a peek.  This solves that issue.  In fact, we set the My Sentry next to the t.v. and had fun viewing her trends as we watched a movie.  The little sister Dexcom was placed alongside, so 'Dexie' didn't feel left out.  Yes, we are weird family.

The alarm is also loud.  Like L-O-U-D!  When signal was lost, the MySentry let us know immediately.  Even our cat stopped and took notice.  Having that feature in the middle of the night would be comforting.  As this is about the size of an iPad, taking it along to a sleepover would be no big deal.  

Would I purchase one? It is so early in our learning, that I honestly could not say.  Insurance coverage has been approved in some cases.  That would be a factor in our decision, especially with two children that require twice the amount of medical supplies.  

My advice is to give it a try and see if it works for your lifestyle.  If you do or have tried My Sentry already, drop a comment and let me know your thoughts.  I would love to hear your feedback.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

A T1D Mom's Miscommunication

With school back in session for around three weeks, teachers are busy with assessing placement.

My own two have been taking tests to see where they rank and also, to provide a guide to their future years' learning.

Mostly, I sit back and wait to see what happens.  Certain tests are more important than others, but at the end of the day, it is always about 'doing your best'.  That's all anyone can ask for.

Today, as I was wrapping up part of my at-home desk work, my personal cell phone beeped with a text update.  Glancing at the clock and realizing it was not an expected lunch time, I was instantly on high alert for whatever it was about to tell me.

Youngest Daughter:  Mom, I have to tell you that I did really well on my SRI (standardized reading assessment) and I am 238.

Insert a panicked look on my face.  A 238 SRI score isn't even near a 6th grade reading level.  She had to be having a HIGH blood sugar.  Or worse.  Or did she just blow it off?  How on earth do I respond to her text?


More silence.


Me:  Okay.  Well you did your best and I am always proud of you.

Youngest Daughter:  Thank you!  I am proud too.

Huh?  Her comment makes no sense to me but I figure that a text while she is at school is not the time to deal with it.

Later that day........

Not too much longer and I am anxiously awaiting her arrival.  After the bus drops her off, I casually broach the subject.

Me:  Soooo.  You sent me your SRI score today.

Youngest daughter:  Yes, wasn't it great?

Me:  A 238?

Youngest daughter:  What?

Me:  Did you get a 238?

Youngest daughter:  What in the world?  No, I got a 1028.  Where did you get a 238?

Me:  From your text message.  Wait, you got a 1028?  That's awesome!

Youngest daughter:  Oh geez mom.  That was a 238 mg/dl!  Seriously?  You seriously thought that I scored a 238??

Yes, this is a very true story.  

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Establishing a Diabetes School Team

My philosophy with school and T1d is that the best outcomes happen when you take the time to establish a diabetes team.

In middle school, besides the Naturally Sweet dad and I, our diabetes school team consists of our medical doctors, my children - yes, they are key players on our team, a 504 coordinator (our assistant principals), the teachers, the lunch staff, the bus garage coordinator and our bus drivers.  Each person is instrumental in ensuring that our children get an equal and fair shot at academic success.

And if you haven't done this, don't fret.  There is still plenty of time to open the communication lines and start. 

To help start the conversation, each year I create/revise a 504 document that outlines the accommodations that my children will need to be successful at school.  Since I know that our team is fully of busy professionals, I also create a simple stop-light chart of diabetes symptoms and blood sugar ranges that can be used at a glance.  After updating the documents with current school pictures and symptom changes, I email both documents to our school 504 coordinator and request a meeting to review and acquire proper signatures from each team member.

During the meeting, our diabetes school team reviews not only the 504 document but also a health care plan, acknowledging with signatures, that our hospital creates that outlines the seriousness of T1d.  The health care plan helps to legitimize the need for medical care and to also, connect our school to the endocrinologist - whom is the ultimate resource should anything happen to our children and I am unavailable.

In the early elementary school years, I met with each teacher directly at this meeting.  My children were both so young that I was fearful of their ability to even communicate in general, let alone speak up about highs and lows.

I would (and still do) bring expired Glucagon to allow the team to try out an injection in a calm environment.  The team loved having a chance to see the Glucagon and to know how it works BEFORE having to use it.

Because of my children's young ages (3 through 10 years old), the early elementary school diabetes team also included a floating Parapro that was assigned to assist with checking of blood sugars and counting carbs.

Our schools, like many around the US, did (and still do not) have assigned school nurses.  Having a floating Parapro was a wonderful help to our team.  Teachers need to be able to teach and secretaries (and let's be honest!) need to run the school.

Many people have recently asked me how we went about in securing a Parapro and my answer is simple:  Establish a team and meet.  Coming together with your team will help identify the need to have this invaluable assistance.  In our case, the 504 coordinator listened to the concerns that our teachers had about being able to teach AND watch for sudden blood sugar spikes and drops.  The secretaries mentioned concerns about the office chaos and being unable to immediately assist a child in dire need.  Not to mention that the office is also the adjacent home to the sick room, which ultimately could make a child with T1d much sicker than they started upon entering.

When all of this was brought to the attention of the 504 coordinator, she was able to brainstorm for ideas.  It was then discovered that an aide assigned to another student had room in her schedule to also be assigned to my children.  In sharing services, we were able to accomplish what we needed to effectively keep my children safe.

At the end of the elementary school days, we also spoke to the new middle school coordinator and decided that our children would make the transition without an aide.  This allowed us to start building in a bit more independence with our soon to be 5th grader and to also, teach the 5th grade teachers a bit more as they would become the main contact for care (not the Parapro).

The diabetes team would not be effective without communication.  At the beginning of every year, I still make sure we exchange phone numbers, emails and even set up loose blood sugar testing schedules.  Having us all on one page is what has helped to keep us successful.

I also want to share that there may be times where communication breaks down.  If at any point that happens (and sometimes it does), don't struggle with individual team members.  My best advice is to call a review meeting and go over what is working and what needs improvement.  In the beginning, we had a lot of 'lessons learned' about lunch time, recess and PE, especially in first grade - our first full time/full week of school.  That year, we chose to have three big team meetings.  One in September, one in January and one right before school ended.  As we were the only family in the building with T1d, this was a big eye-opener with setting up a plan for all future students.  We wanted to get it right and make sure it worked.  As it turned out, not much later and our oldest daughter was also diagnosed.  I am still thankful that she was able to transition into a very smooth system.  While it wasn't perfect, it was so much than before we started.

Yes, it is a lot of work and yes, I am exhausted each year.  But it gets easier as the girls become older and especially as they have started to co-captain with me.

Not to mention that our schools now 'know' our family and through learning about successful T1d management have helped us transition to upper grades.  Even though oldest daughter is only in 8th grade, her 504 coordinator has already started laying the tracks for a successful high school transition next year.

We couldn't do that without having our team.