|Can you spot the insulin pump?|
With a whirlwind of afterschool activities coming to an end, we had one last (and adorable!) activity to deal with... ballet recitals.
The dance school that youngest daughter attends is founded on the principles of Cecchetti Dance.
From the website: "Cecchetti training is a rigorous method which pays careful attention to the laws of anatomy. It develops all of the qualities essential to the dancer: balance, poise, strength, elevation, elasticity, “ballon”, etc. It is classic in its purity and clear-cut style".
Which also means that her school used a strict dress code, complete with proper hair styling and simple black leotards and pink tights.
All of that completely intimidated me as I also needed to somehow bring along the diabetes monster and make him dance!
Dance monster, dance!!!!!!
|And how adorable is this little tutu wearing monster??|
So why did we go this route when it seems more complicated? After all, youngest daughter had been dancing just fine at the local studio that had an 'anything goes' approach to their variety of classes. Type 1 diabetes was simple there and I could even walk into the dance room if I needed to.
Kids first/diabetes second. It just wasn't enough for youngest daughter.
We chose this school after youngest daughter asked to learn more about ballet and wanted to one day be able to go en-pointe. It was a wonderful fit for her personality as it was very structured but also, very rewarding. By the end of the year, she was not only more graceful and poised, but also had a special self-confidence that is rare at an age of developing bodies and tween-years.
After the recital, I was ready to shout out "we did it! Kids first/diabetes second!!!!
With this new school and year of dance, also came a few challenges: Pump on or pump off during her hour-long class? G4 Sensor on or sensor off? Infusion sites placed on arms or hidden on legs? Glucagon in ballet bag or just a juice box?
It was even trickier as most days, the school closed off the viewing window so children could freely practice without parents or siblings distracting them. That meant that I needed to rely on my youngest daughter's abilities to feel her blood sugars and to actively take care of them in the situation of a high or a low blood sugar.
We made it through and with great success. Youngest daughter danced for three nights over the weekend and without back stage help from mom or dad. Its easy to forget that she is 9 years old and just leaving 4th grade. The maturity of our kids living with type 1 diabetes is AMAZING!
So here are a few ways that we made our year of dance at a new school work:
1.) Pump on or Pump Off: For our family, most practice days were scheduled immediately after eating an after-school snack, which we tested blood glucose and bolused for the carbohydrates in the food. Because of this regimen, youngest daughter was able to dance pump free for the hour-long class. An exception was on days where blood sugar was too high upon entering class and for that, we had her wear her insulin pump on a clip that was attached to a ballet skirt worn on top of the leotard.
2.) Sensor On or Sensor Off: Our dance studio did not allow bags to be brought into the classroom. Therefore, bags were either placed in a locker without a lock or left near the coat racks. Having a G4 that resembles an Ipod Nano seemed like an accident waiting to happen, so we opted to leave the receiver at home. The sensor was left in place and we simply calibrated blood sugars to the receiver when our youngest was hooked back up to the pump.
3.) Infusion Sites and Sensor Sites: Since we rotate between legs, arms, stomach and tush, our youngest daughter did have days in the studio with having a site in a visual area. This was the hardest part about dance as some kids did remark upon the site (usually in a curious kind of way) but youngest daughter wasn't too pleased about having to answer a ton of questions in the middle of a ballet class. For the recital day, we carefully worked the site rotation to make sure that we could place it somewhere hidden so that no questions would be asked and our youngest daughter was free to go about her day with less worries. One great tip is to practice role-playing with your child on how to answer some of the questions of "What is that?" We tried to normalize the curiosity and help our youngest feel more confident in talking about type 1 diabetes.
4.) Recital Day: Look carefully at the above picture. Can you see the placement of her insulin pump? It's there! What we discovered is that another great place to tuck a pump is in the waistband of her tights, under the leotard. It doesn't slip or move, even with twisting and turning around on the dance floor. We loved this as her backstage and recital time away from mom and dad totaled about 2.5 hours. That entire time, she was able to remote bolus using the Animas PING remote and her blood sugars stayed nice and steady.
Another great tip on recital day is to send your child with a cell phone. While she was backstage, our youngest daughter was able to check her blood sugar and send me text updates with her numbers. I felt calm, she felt independent and her time of dance wasn't overshadowed by type 1 diabetes. Truly a win-win.
5.) Glucagon or Candy (US) Smarties: This year, we opted to send our child with candy and not with Glucagon. Now, this may vary for you and definitely do what you think is right for your family. With the bag issue, just like the G4 Receiver, I didn't want the Glucagon falling into the wrong hands. We felt better with the idea of having candy in the bag. You can also pack a juice box, some dried fruit, or any other number of things that your child uses to bring up a low blood sugar. Just be sure to pack something.
6.) Tell Someone: At the beginning of the year, I try to set up a plan - much like the 504 Plan - I build a 'team' of people that will be able to help if an emergency should arise. At our studio this year, one of the receptionists was also a mom of a child with type 1 diabetes. How did I find out? By casually mentioning that my daughter had a bag of candy in her dance bag in case she had a low blood sugar. This sparked a conversation which led to meeting the daughter, learning that she was pumping with an Omni Pod and discussing which candies taste better when dealing with a low blood sugar. That mom turned out to be one of my biggest allies and because she knew the dance studio ropes, was able to give me great insight on the teachers, the best recital seats and where to save money on dance gear. All because of one little conversation.
7.) Have Fun! Don't let the diabetes monster get in the way of creating magical memories for you and your child. With a little planning, patience and practice, your dance year will be magical too!
|Youngest daughter is directly in the middle and is about to do her big finish!|