A recent conversation with our diabetic educator (the wonderful Kathie Cooper):
Me: “I don’t get it, I don’t know what I’m doing wrong…but Maddie’s sugar levels are up and down, all over the place it seems, and for reasons we can’t quite figure out.”
Her: “Welcome to Diabetes. This is what I would call classic evidence of a child with Type 1 diabetes coming out of the honeymoon phase. This is what real diabetes looks like.”
As strange as it may seem, this was actually a comfort to me. My shoulders relaxed a bit. Not that I want this kind of roller coaster ride for our 8 yr. old, but to know that there are SO MANY factors other than carb counting and the appropriate level of insulin, is helpful to know. These other factors are impossible to “manage”: stress, exercise, activity levels, growth, etc.
What I THOUGHT was meant by “the Honeymoon Phase” was that she and we, were learning how to manage and cope with diabetes and that at some point things would level out. What THEY meant by “the Honeymoon Phase” was a period of time (no one really can predict how long it will be for each child) when their last remaining beta cells are still producing small amounts of insulin, thus helping the insulin you are already giving them to maintain the blood sugar levels where they need to be. Coming OUT of this “honeymoon” means that she no longer has any insulin being produced and we are now operating solely on the insulin we give her and counting carbs and trying to think like a pancreas…WAAAAHHHHHH!!! (picture here a roller coaster of the wildest kind!)
So we are getting very familiar with lows…sugar levels diving under 80…and highs…sugar levels spiking up into the upper 200’s and low 300’s. We are getting familiar with smarties and juice. Two packages of smarties are a fast-acting carb that brings her back up to a healthier level where she isn’t weak, shaky, and about to keel over. Small juice boxes (I found the perfect carb count-15 g- at Walmart!) are great too! It’s just so odd to actually HAVE to give your child sugar, when you’ve tried to foster in her a good sense of taking care of your teeth, your sugar intake, etc. It all goes out the window when you’re experiencing a low. At that point you are giving candy to your child hand-over-fist to get sugar in her.
Sometimes she’s too low to go to sleep at night and we have to give her snacks with carbs right before going to bed. This was NOT a habit of ours prior to diabetes! Now, we say what a lucky kid she is…to be able to eat yogurt, or granola bars, or ice cream right before going to bed!!
Perhaps there ARE some perks for her even if the honeymoon’s over.