Wednesday, June 20, 2018

What Does It Feel Like to Have A Child with T1D Away From Home?

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I remember when our youngest was newly diagnosed.  At the time, since she was only three years-old, we weren't missing an abundance of sleepovers.  In many ways, having no pressure to sleep over at a friend's house was a nice respite of one.more.worry of living with T1D.  We just didn't think about it at all and enjoyed the comfort of middle of the night checks through a short walk down our bedroom hallway. 

As the years ticked by, sleeping away from home was still less of a big deal.  Through the friends that she made, many opted for play-dates only, in lieu of long sleepovers.  Even as our older daughter was diagnosed, sleeping overnight still seemed less important than getting together for fun day-dates.  Perhaps it was a sign of the times as social networking (yes, the girls had phones - yep, no regrets!) was easier to stay at home but still communicate with friends.

Then, one day, fifth grade camp was upon us.  By then, we had stumbled through several uncoordinated, messy sleepovers and realized that the reason of not having them, was less about T1D and more about the cranky, irritable little girls that needed recovery sleep after.  Taking a plunge, I agreed to chaperone both sessions of the camp and rise above the fray of not just one or two tired girls, but an entire cabin of overly exhausted pre-teens. 

Simultaneously, through the years, our girls grew to handle more and more care.  They also fell in love with their T1D Camp Midicha and while it was a struggle to let go for an entire week, I also found it amazing that an entire volunteer platoon came forth to lead not only wee little ones but the older teens. 

Which has brought us to this point... a quiet house.  Both girls are happily ensconced at camp for the 9th year. 

And it feels.. right.  We now have an almost 17 year-old and 15 year-old.  In reflection, I am grateful that we didn't force or push separation any sooner.  The girls are both well-adjusted, able to care for themselves independently and have grown into their own pathways towards young adulthood.  Letting childhood happen organically, with or without T1D, during ages and stages, has made for a smooth growing cycle. I worry less because, I too, have been given time to teach myself how to navigate their childhood.  There has been no hurry, no rush and no keeping up with the Jones'.  Instead, the girls have led the way and together, we have allowed them freedoms at the right times.

The house is quiet.  The children are away from home.  And as a mom, it is OK.

Yes, I miss them tremendously, but I know that the foundation has been laid for a successful transition to college and beyond. 

This is what we hoped to accomplish all the way back in 2006. 

I am sure I will cry next spring when that graduation cap is on her curly head.  And again, in two more short, fleeting years for our youngest.  However, those tears will also be mixed with pride at the accomplishment that we made together in creating a family unit that allowed our girls to pursue their passions, dreams, hopes, accomplishments and independence, all while living with T1D. 

That's what I hope we all feel when we find ourselves faced with a quiet house. 

Well done, parents and kids! 

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Diabetes Camp and the Camp Care Package

Repost of good information!!!  Still needing ideas for what to pack for your camper?  Here is a great way to avoid homesickness for BOTH parents and kids!!!!  

With one week in between school end and diabetes camp, I am now scrambling to put together two campers packing list.  Part of which includes the fun care package. 

First, start with a basic box.  You can use shoe boxes or recycle old UPS boxes.  I purchased two simple photo boxes from Michael's craft store.  Each cost just $3.99.  During a sale, the boxes are often as inexpensive as three for $5.00.  You can also find coupons for regularly priced items which discount around 40% off online.   

I try to choose colors that are more neutral now.  While my girls love pink, they both have recently changed out the look and feel of their bedrooms.  When camp is over, the boxes will stay in their rooms and be used to hold school papers, keepsakes and more.  Having a nice neutral color is a great way to blend decor.

At the same time that I purchased the boxes, I also picked up a few inexpensive packs of stickers to decorate each box with.  One rule of thumb for all items that go to camp is to make sure their is a label with the campers name.  Letter stickers work nicely for this. 

As I mentioned above, the boxes will stay in their room.  For this reason, I purposely am not going to decorate the label area.  When they come home, the girls will make labels to identify the contents.  Most likely, the boxes will hold other items after that. 

Next, the fun part...  gather up your goodies. This year, I chose items that appeal to older girls.  You can easily adapt this to suit your child (boys too!) with whatever items they find to be fun. 

Some ideas include: 

  • Outdoor toys like balls, Frisbees, discs.
  • Travel games, journals and comic books.
  • Sunblock, lip balm and hats.
  • Beach towels, string backpacks.
  • Tattoos, fingernail stickers, stuffed animals.
  • Or anything else that you choose!

Please NOTE:  Our camp does prohibit all food items - including gum, anything that looks like or is a weapon, nothing needing the use of matches, and no electronic devices.  This is not the time to give your child a cell phone to call home.  One of the best "perks" of camp is that your child is able to unplug and enjoy friendships in the wild outdoors.  Nothing is better than that. 

While this is fine to send, I generally avoid items that contain scent that may attract mosquitoes.  Therefore, no perfume, body spray or lotions. Deodorant and soap for the shower is a MUST!  The rest of the cabin will thank you!!! 

I try to select a few group oriented activities.  Should my child have a quiet moment back in the cabin, often, having a small toy to play with a buddy is a great way to ward off home-sickness.  The Cahootie catcher is a perfect example.  You can also send scrap paper and instructions with how to make these as a group activity too.  Directions are on Pinterest. 

Window markers are also fun and easy to clean up when the week is over.  Everyone in the cabin can take turns personalizing their cabin space.  This is stain-free fun too.  No damage to the cabin or the kids. 

Useful items work well too.  My youngest had her eyes on beautiful rhinestone studded swim goggles for weeks.  Without her knowing, I was able to pick up a pair for herself and for her sister's surprise box.  I know this will get used well beyond camp time and while it was a bit of splurge, it is also going to be well loved. 

Other silly and fun items for the group to enjoy include things like glow bracelets, glow necklaces, flower leis, bandannas, face paint or something like this hot pink temporary hair spray.  This can be used by all of the girls and will wash out in the lake at swimming time or in the showers before bed.  More fun for all. 

I also include postcards which are pre-addressed and stamped for mailing to home.  To make it even more fun, I added a silly crayola scented pen.  We also had some leftover party favors that included mini note-pads, perfect for playing tic-tac-toe or writing notes between bunk beds and also, two more pens to share with cabin mates. 

Nothing fancy or expensive, but a deck of cards is the ultimate camp toy.  The kids will play all sorts of games such as go fish, spoons, war, etc..  Everyone can join in on the fun too. 

At night, it is also nice to have a quiet toy.  This works for my youngest daughter especially.  She will smoosh and toss this little guy in her bed until she is ready for sleep.  It also works to have something to hold onto for site changes on her insulin pump.  Although at camp, she tends to be more brave and confident in her care.  It is camp magic! 

I do tuck in a love note from home and a few other goodies like nail polish and magazines.  A good book is also a favorite. 

Here is the completed box.  Next, I will wrap this up in plain brown paper and address to my daughter's name and cabin.  A special tip is that if you are going to the camp, you can drop this off at the office and avoid any postal fees.  Just be sure to add the day that you want it delivered.  I tend to ask for Tuesday as it seems like a great time in the middle of the camp experience (Sunday is drop off day for us) and I want the girls to be able to have time to use the items that I packed. 

Here is the finished product.  Just six more days until camp.  Now, to get busy on packing!

Happy diabetes camp week! 

Finals Week and Blood Glucose Monitoring

We all know that stress exacerbates hormones levels, which in turn, increases blood glucose.  Usually this is a temporary issue and often, as soon as the person is removed from the stressful situation, the blood sugar drops back in a typical range for that individual. 

But what do you do if you are faced with days of acute stress? 

If you live with T1D and are a student managing final exams, you find creative ways to cope. 

Because we are currently in the middle of this situation, my stress is ramped up enough that all I can muster is a top ten list of what is working (or working as well as can be said) for both of our girls. 

And yes, it is mid-June.  Why are we still in school?????  

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10.  Take breaks. Write this in BOLD LETTERS on your family message board.  It will serve well for the entire week.

9.  Hit something.  In our house, we head to the driving range for a bucket of balls.  If you have a baseball player, use the batting cage.  Karate kids, head to the dojo.  Soccer enthusiasts, go kick.

8.  Eat meals.  While it may be tempting to no longer make dinner, this helps no one.  Continue with meals that are a good combination of carbs, protein and fat to help reduce blood sugar spikes. Plus, meals force a much needed break.

7.  Be honest.  Acknowledge that this is a hard time for students.  Empathy reduces stress. 

6.  Share.  It may have been a pretty easy year for diabetes and some teachers may have forgotten that your child is managing not only exams but a chronic illness.  If blood sugars are out of range and testing is not possible, let your child's teacher know ahead of time.  Sometimes, a simple solution can be found with testing at a different time of day.  

5.  Run.  Along the lines of #9, running is the fastest way to tire out our muscle groups.  When anxiety and stress are peaking, taking a quick run will often reduce symptoms and return BG back to a typical range faster than any other method. 

4.  Write it out.  When your child feels overwhelmed with the demands, have them write out a schedule of what needs to be studied and when tests will occur.  Seeing it on paper, often reduces the feeling of being out of control. 

3. Study together.  Whether your child studies with friends, siblings or parents, having a human connection along with the material, helps through understanding that they are not alone in the sea of exams.  

2. De-emphasize grades.  One sure fire way to reduce stress is through communicating that the goal is NOT a grade but instead, mastery of concept.  If a student knows the material, they will naturally do better and as a result, the grade will become a fringe benefit. 

1. Exams end.  This time will not last forever.  Exams start and finish.  And with final exams, comes along the knowledge that summer vacation is right around the corner.  

Enjoy your summer!!!!