Monday, February 4, 2013

The Experiment That Never Ends

We've all been in school. We've all had the group project science experiment or participated in the science fair. I mean, really, we've all seen the celery sticks in colored water and have planted lima beans under different colored Saran wrap...what will happen? Riveting, right?

Well, when your kiddo is a type 1 diabetic, you are always planning, revising, hypothesizing, questioning, and/or concluding a science experiment. The only difference is that you have to start over three days later. The best way to help monitor the craziness is with a log.

Here is an example:

Now I realize I could type this into a spreadsheet, but I gotta say handwriting it is so much easier.

You record information about blood sugar levels, food eaten (carbs), and insulin injected. Then you highlight blood sugar numbers that are not in the acceptable range.  Amy and I differ on our color choices. I do blue for high and pink for low blood sugars, and she does the opposite. There is no right or wrong way to do this--use green and yellow if you want. You just need to know what they mean.

From there you start looking for trends that happen over a couple days. If you notice the same issue (color) at the same time everyday, you need to make a change in the amount of insulin administered at meal times or the insulin given to keep blood sugars stable when not eating. A quick example ... see all those blue numbers at 2:00am (at the top of the chart)? Grayson is too high, so we need to adjust his insulin doses so he is in-range.

I don't want to get technical, but you get the picture. It's complicated...and inconsistent because your hypothesis of "If I make the lunch dose of insulin larger, then his blood sugar will go down by dinner," will need to be revised a few days later. The only consistent thing is the realization that no two days will be the same.

I think that is the greatest hurdle to understanding living with this disease. As much as we do know - T1s don't produce insulin (although some still do), insulin given through injection can help maintain good health, exercise can bring down blood sugar levels, adrineline can make blood sugar rise, along with carbs, growth hormones, sickness (but that can also make it drop), and, we cannot even make this up, the phases of the moon and the weather (Are you confused yet? That was us the entire first month after diagnosis.) - there is a lot we don't know/understand. You just have to be willing to make changes and realize that you are doing the best you can every day because it is not about you. It is about the kids. They are the ones who have to deal with this disease for the rest of their lives. While I will get to give this up, the science project will eventually be inherited by my son.

I wouldn't wish this type of action research on anyone, but I do wish that the awareness of the struggle was more widespread.

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