Life With A Type 1 Kid:  Our New Normal

by Richmond mom Sue Ayers, freelance writer and training designer.

Emily turned 12 on Wednesday. She was so excited to have her best friend Alex come and spend the day and the night with us. For her birthday, Emily wanted to get her ears pierced. She was the only girl in her 5th grade class without pierced ears; therefore, she was really looking forward to having them done for her birthday. Since diabetics can have problems with cuts healing properly, I first checked with our endocrinology group – MCV Pediatric Endocrinology (who rock by the way). Since Emily’s last A1C was 5.8 (which is pretty terrific for someone who was just diagnosed in January), they gave us the green light because Emily’s diabetes is being controlled properly.
However, at 10:00 that morning, Emily announced she wasn’t going to get her ears pierced after all. Ever a worrier, even though she was told it was okay, Em didn’t want to risk infection and any additional problems. She decided to get an outfit at Justice instead.
How proud am I of this kid??? She is the only girl out of her friends without pierced ears. But she decided her health is more important than the way she looks or the status quo. Wow! To have the ability to be true to yourself at age twelve is absolutely amazing to me.
We went about our day shopping and having lunch at Baker’s Crust. I sat across from Emily and Alex and I could tell that something wasn’t quite right with Emily. I quickly tested her and her blood sugar was really low – 53. Some lifesavers brought her glucose level back up and she began feeling better in a few minutes. Because we stick to a routine throughout the day, Emily’s glucose level is pretty stable. But she was out on the trampoline a lot that morning getting an unusual amount of exercise. It’s important to check frequently during exercise!
At dinner that night, the staff at Red Robin sang the obligatory birthday song and gave Emily a chocolate sundae which promptly went to Alex. Emily had a birthday cake at home with sugar-free frosting and was saving her carbs for that. Alex doesn’t like cake so that exchange worked out well.
This weekend Emily is going to spend the night with Alex. As I posted on the Emily the Type 1 Kid facebook page, the days of simply worrying about if she took her toothbrush to a sleepover or not are gone. Now I have to show Alex’s mom how to count carbs, how to check Emily’s syringe, what constitutes a normal range for blood sugar and what to do if Emily gets too low. I also have to show her how to use the emergency glucagon pen if she’s unable to wake my girl up. And then I have to let go and let Emily be a kid. A kid with a new kind of normal – one that consists of medications and pricks and shots and highs and lows but one that also consists of birthdays and friends and sleepovers. We’re learning how to adjust.

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