August 13, 2013

A Day with Diabetes

**I promise to have a furniture post later this week!!**

So I've been thinking about writing a post outlining a normal day for Casey with type 1 diabetes. I debated wether anyone would care to read such a post until yesterday when my friend asked me exactly that. "What's a day like for Casey now that he has diabetes??"

So for my friends and family who are curious to know more about what Casey's days look like and for strangers who find their way to my blog due to the title, here's what a day in the life of an 8 year old with diabetes looks like.

Casey wakes up. He always wants breakfast right away so he goes down to the kitchen with his medicine bag and checks his blood sugar by pricking his finger.

His number is  129 which is a little high for first thing in the morning. 

He decides what he wants for breakfast and exactly how much of it he'll eat. Today he wants Frosted Flakes and decides he will eat 1 & 1/2 servings. Plus he will drink 1/2 cup of OJ. So we add up the carbs in the cereal and juice. I don't count the carbs of the milk in his cereal because he doesn't actually get that much of the milk in his mouth ever. It's just one of those weird things we've figured out!

So the carb count is 57. We divide the carbs by 22 because that's just the number that our doctor has told us to divide by at breakfast :) The resulting number is 2.59 which is the number of insulin units that Casey will take with his breakfast. The insulin doses in half units so we round to 2 & 1/2.

I prepare the insulin pen and inject Casey wherever he tells me he'd like his shot. 

{Casey always checks his blood sugar himself so I usually do the insulin for him. He knows how to do it and sometimes he prepares the shot or does the injection or both himself. But truthfully it's a lot of work. get tired of doing it so imagine an 8 year old being burdened with it.}

2 hours after breakfast Casey checks his blood sugar again. We want to check it to make sure his number is back to around 100. Too high would mean that he didn't take enough insulin with breakfast, too low would mean he took too much. 

{Caring for diabetes is a constantly changing thing. As he grows and his body changes his insulin doses will change too. Right now Casey is in the "honeymoon stage" of diabetes. His pancreas is still working and making insulin at times but it is slowly giving up. So right now Casey's numbers are a little higher than they had been a few weeks ago when his pancreas was working better and that is something we address with his doctor every couple of weeks.} 

His number is 99. This is a good number, our goal is to be around 1oo but for sure under 150. It's snack time so Casey looks through the pantry and decides on a snack. It has to be about 15 grams of carbs, no more. Anything more would cause his blood sugar to go too high which (over time) would be unhealthy. He decides to have 15 Pringles and a glass of Crystal Light.

{Having high blood sugar here and there is okay and to be expected. But having high numbers consistently would lead to complications later in life. Also having high numbers can lead to your body breaking down fat cells for energy and creating keytones in your blood as the waste product. This is very dangerous and another reason why we check blood often and limit snacks to 15 carbs.}

It's lunch time. We approach it just like breakfast. Casey checks his blood sugar and I ask him what he would like to eat and how much.

{Casey needs to know how much he will eat so he can take the appropriate amount of insulin. Once he takes enough insulin for a meal he then has to eat all the carbs we counted so that he doesn't get low blood sugar. This is why he always eats his high carb foods first, it's not something we told him to do or even thought of. It's something he figured out on his own and has always done. The boy has always been wise beyond his years.} 

He decides to have a hot dog without a bun, 1 serving of doritos and some fruit with water to drink. That adds up to 23 carbs. We divide by 20 because that's the number the doctor has told us to divide by at lunch. The resulting number is 1.15 which is the number of insulin units he will get (we round to 1). I prepare the insulin and give him his shot where he tells me he would like it.

{Casey always decides where he will get his shot. It's his body and it's important that we let him know that he's in charge of his body. We encourage him to alternate different areas when we need to but he is very good at remembering which arm we used last and lets me know to do the other arm or leg, etc.}

Casey has been playing outside and comes in to tell me he is dizzy and feels low. We check his finger and his number is at 83 but his insulin from lunch hasn't even gotten to it's peak yet which means he'll go even lower in the next 45 minutes. He eats a snack of 20 Cheez-its.

It's snack time again. Casey checks his number and it is 104. He picks out a 15 carb snack and has some crystal light with it. Crystal Light, Vitamin Water Zero and drinks of that nature are carb free (or very low carb) and are fun for him to get to have. I let him pick out lots of different flavors at the store every week.

It's dinner time. I try to make a meal that everyone will like at dinner but I don't specifically ask Casey what he wants. Dinner is dinner and you eat what mommy makes ;) When the food is almost ready I ask Casey to come up to the kitchen and see what we're having. I measure out a serving of the noodles or rice or potatoes etc. and ask him how many servings he thinks he will eat. He checks his blood sugar and usually gets his insulin shot ready since I'm still cooking and this can be a hectic time. His number tonight is 111. The number of carbs he's having is 59 so we divide by 22. The resulting number is 2.68 which is the number of units of insulin he'll get (we rounded to 2 & 1/2). Dad's home so a lot of times he will do the injection at dinner.

It's bed time. We start by checking Casey's blood sugar. He should be over 150 before he goes to bed to make sure he doesn't go too low while he's sleeping. 

{Low blood sugar is a constant danger for people with diabetes. Taking too much insulin, not eating enough carbs or getting a lot of exercise are all things that can cause your numbers to go too low. For Casey in his honeymoon stage his pancreas can randomly shoot out some extra insulin and cause him to have extreme lows. It's scary and can cause passing out, seizures, coma and even death. We carry a special emergency glucagon shot with us everywhere we go in case of this. Casey can usually feel when his blood sugar is getting low, he gets dizzy and sluggish. During travel baseball for the whole month of July we were battling lows. His teammates thought it was awesome his mom made him eat gummy lifesavers in between innings!}

Casey's number tonight is 92 which is too low for bed so he gets a bedtime snack. He loves it when this happens :) He usually gets some kind of dessert which makes it even more exciting. 

After he has a strawberry shortcake popsicle he goes up to the bathroom and does all of his asthma and allergy medicines and brushes teeth. One of us (Casey, Scott or I) get his bedtime insulin ready. A lot of nights Casey gives himself this injection.

{Casey's bedtime insulin is taken at the same time every night and is very different than his meal time insulin. His meal time insulin works almost immediately and peaks 2 hours after injecting. The bed time insulin works slowly and basically lets off a tiny bit of insulin each hour of the day for 24 hours.}

After hugs and kisses and prayers Casey goes to bed.  

As you can see diabetes can feel like a lot of work. But every week it gets more and more a habit and is becoming 2nd nature. As long as Casey sticks to a schedule, takes the right amount of insulin and is careful about snacking things go very smoothly. But sometimes sticking to a strict schedule with smart snacks is not so easy for an 8 year old. Sometimes people offer a snack of donut holes at a playdate after he's already eaten a snack. Even if he hasn't had a snack he can only have about 3 donut holes. Meanwhile littler kids run around and eat 8 over the course of the whole playdate. Casey can't do those things. Those are the kinds of times that he feels different and deprived. It's hard, even on a kid who's acted like an adult his whole life. We've been told by every one of Casey's teachers over the years how responsible he is. We've talked about how God made him that way to prepare him for his life with allergies and asthma and catastrophic teeth grinding. We found out this summer that God was actually equipping him with the personality he would need to live his life with Type 1 Diabetes.


  1. I had gestational diabetes with Liam, which gave me a glimpse into the life of a diabetic. It was challenging trying to figure it all out at first, but as the weeks went by, it became more of a habit...some days I had a good attitude about it, others..not so much..and I am 28. What a mature and positive 8 year old Casey is! He is so inspirational and responsible. I know its not always easy to be handed "trials" like this, but I know that when I am faced with them, I almost feel blessed in a way...knowing that God has given me these things to grow in Him and to be able to share with others and help them grow...that's just what Casey is doing! I will be praying for him and this new journey, and as he starts school soon! God will be with him every step of the way, even on the hard days. What an amazing child of God he is! :)

  2. My prayers to your family. I know what living with a child with "special needs" requires. lots of patience and persistence (for me, lots of prayers!). We had some major asthma/allergies issues until we started incorporating toxic awareness in our home. My oldest has been diagnosed with ADHD & Aspergers, with healthy nutrition and supplements he has been medication free for almost 2 years and is doing great in the 7th grade! I would be happy to discuss more about what we have been doing, maybe it can help your family too? God Bless :-)