The Type 1 Teen and Siblings

Somehow in the last few years, I felt as if I could escape the crazy periods of type one diabetes.  My son is all over with his sugars and keeping up with correcting and not allowing himself to go low.  I know, I know, you’re thinking “boy are you in for a big surprise!  Teens can be hard to manage at times!”  I am waiting for the hammer to fall, but in the meantime I had planned to participate in blissful ignorance.  And then it hit me as I am leaving the house to run an errand the other day.  I realized my younger child needs to be taught how to help her brother (who has been a babysitter for me).  Now Quincy is excellent at knowing if his sugars are not spot on, but what happens if he becomes distracted, or decides not to take care of something?  I began to think of a time when I sat my 10-year-old down and discussed what to do with her.  I think I assume she knows what to do because our house lives and breathes diabetes, highs and lows, in sickness and  in health.  So I started my mental list of what she does know: she knows to call 911, she knows to tell him to eat if he needs to and she knows how to call me when he is being completely unfair.  But if he is having an insulin reaction, waiting for 911 may be too late.

This enticed me to make another list of what she needs to learn and how.  She needs to learn how to give a glucagon shot, to test his blood sugar, what order does she need to take care of him and what he is like when he is low but still can argue (which he can do at a blood sugar of 20).

These thoughts lead to how to teach her. S he is only 10-years old. So my mental plan became:

  1. Talk to her about the responsibility of being alone and at home with him
  2. Ask her multiple questions on what she knows.  (I didn’t think teaching her what she already knows would work.)
  3. Show her where we keep the babysitting book (I keep it because it has everything she needs and I think she can understand it)
  4. Show her where we keep glucagon.
  5. Find the old glucagon.
  6. Practice with the old glucagon with an orange.
  7. Repeat so I know she is comfortable.
  8. Do a monthly check in with her to determine if she retained the information.

In the above plan she still needs to know how to check his blood sugar and suspend his pump and be able to read his pump.  But those are another teaching moment because teaching her everything makes me overwhelmed and I think it would make her overwhelmed.  So then the plan will be to start with his book.  I am a strong proponent of understanding the disease before dealing with the if, ands and buts.  This is another reason our book works so well.  Most people see the book and think my kid is beyond needing this, but I say anyone: siblings, other parents, grandparent, and the babysitter can read and use this book and that can be an advantage to having it.

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