Last Night’s Phone Call and Other Dealings of a T1D Parent

Last night, around 10:30 pm, my cell phone rang.  I was actually holding the phone, about to power it down with 7% battery left, and a number I didn’t recognize popped up on the screen.  Who’s calling me at 10:30?  As a parent of a child with type 1 diabetes, you learn to just answer the phone.  And then came the words that sent my heart racing, “Hi Dayna, this is Michelle from diabetes camp.”

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Now Hannah’s been going to camp for 6 years, a remote place in the mountains of Colorado, where cell phones don’t work, there is no contact with your child for a week, and THEY NEVER CALL.  That’s the beauty of diabetes camp – your child is surrounded by med staff and counselors and doctors and other adults with T1D.  By the time you “drop your kid off” you have filled out 20 forms three months ago, had your endocrinologist sign off that your kid can go, and filled out 10 more forms in the last week.  As you arrive, you shuttle from station to station: nurses station to check for fever, non-diabetes med station, pump settings station, CGM station, pump supply station… So you feel darned good about leaving your kid in capable hands.

Hannah was fine, Michelle assured me, but her insulin pump was not.  The funny thing was she kept telling me it had a “motor error” and I kept thinking she was saying it had a “murder error”.  Either way, the pump was dead, the $4,000 device that keeps my kid alive.  Michelle, as it turns out, not only has T1D herself, but is a rep for Medtronic, the pump’s manufacturer.  She happened to have a spare pump that Hannah can use for the next few days, and gave me instructions to call Medtronic and have a replacement overnighted.  I assumed she wanted me to call in the morning, but no, Medtronic has a 24-hour 800 number and it is manned by Very Helpful People.  Hannah’s replacement pump will arrive the day she gets back, and the best part…it’s under warranty.

I started thinking about how the phone takes on a whole different sense of urgency when you’re a T1D parent.  When Hannah was in elementary school, the nurse would call me at least 3 times a week when Hannah’s readings were either very high or very low.  For years, my cordless phone and my cell phone were always within reach: in the bathroom, in the garden, while I was vacuuming….and at the gym, my cell phone was at the base of my spin bike so I could see it when it lit up.

Then there was the phone call from the endocrinologist with the results of her yearly screening for Celiac’s disease.  We never had that follow-up call until it came back positive.  That was a rough day.

All in all, I am more than grateful that my daughter is surrounded by doctors, school nurses, pharmaceutical reps, certified diabetes educators, endos….so many people working to make sure her life is good and healthy and practically normal.  And I promise to always answer the phone.

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