Symptoms of Type 1 Diabetes

I often had the question: How did you know your son had diabetes? I didn’t. Even as a healthcare provider Type 1 diabetes was not the first thing in my mind. Mostly because I am a mom before I am a nurse practitioner. Quincy did have most of the symptoms when I look back right before diagnosis. And because I am a practitioner I knew something was wrong and I had him into the clinic quickly. He was never in diabetic ketoacidosis upon diagnosis. So As a parent how do you know.

First If you think something is wrong with your child, take your child into your doctor. Nothing you can read here or anywhere else will substitute what a good provider can do when seeing your child and running some lab work.

Secondly the main symptoms of type 1 diabetes (or diabetes in general) is extreme thirst, extreme fatigue (more than you would see with a  growth spurt), extreme hunger but also weight loss, a fruity breath smell or loss of consciousness. The later are later symptoms and are indicative of diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). DKA is when the body is breaking down large amounts of protein to make fuel and in turn makes the blood more acidic. This can render a person unconscious and without health care death.

If your child has any of the milder symptoms thirst or hunger that cannot be satisfied, fatigue or weight loss then take your child to the doctor. the symptoms could be diabetes or a number of other diagnoses.

Type 1 Diabetes and Friends

Friends can be a tricky thing with your type 1 child. Children want so badly to fit in with others, to have a group of people who accept them unconditionally. Type 1 diabetes can make your child have the impression of being unaccepted. Now not all children feel this way. Many children have a self-confidence that is made of iron and other children determine their confidence based on others. And let’s face it: other kids can be mean and use diabetes as a way to pick on and bully your type 1 child.  As parents we want to embrace our children, keep them safe, and have them feel confident no matter what and make all of their ills disappear. If we, as parents, could do that we would wipe out diabetes all together with our wants and desires.

Since we cannot wipe out diabetes, how do we help our children to be comfortable with this lifelong disease?  I believe it depends of your child’s age. With a middle, elementary school and younger child, parents need to enter the classroom each year and talk to the class about type 1 diabetes. Joslin has a great handout to guide you as a parent through this at   Beyond talking to the class, you can also enlist the help of the friend’s parents. They will need to know about your child anyways so why not have them help talk to their child about childhood diabetes? The friend’s parent may know how to talk to their child about specific for their child.

Then with an older child,  he should start to learn to talk to their friends about Type 1 Diabetes. This will help two-fold. First, it helps your type 1 child learn about their disease a bit more because he or she needs to talk about Type 1. Secondly, I strongly believe that encouraging your child to discuss this makes them more confident about themselves. When a child becomes more confident they are more likely to advocate for themselves. With advocation less childhood bullying could occur. Kids don’t tend to pick on kids that are confident in themselves. Self-advocation is a lifelong habit.

All T1D kids need to eventually be able to discuss how their body works, why they need insulin, to carry sugar, eat often, and sometimes feel cruddy because of their sugars. Teaching your child while they are with you by talking to the classroom and their friend’s parents about type 1 diabetes will enhance your child’s ability to make lifelong habits to talk and discuss about their diabetes.

Brand New Type 1 Diabetic Parent

I first want to tell you to BREATHE!

Okay now we can talk. There is so much information that is getting told to you and you feel like you are drowning. Breathe again! You will become the next expert on your child and type 1 diabetes. But how do you get there and when will that happen?  Take small steps to get there. You will learn all of the information and will be that expert. Parents I have talked too say they really felt very comfortable around a year. Not that you won’t understand what to do until then; however, type 1 diabetes becomes second nature around then.

Not everyone is the same. Some parents are type A organized and have every paper ever given to us by the doctor to reference back too. And some of the parents have what is exactly needed and nothing more. Each has it merits. But what we do have in common is we keep all this stuff in one spot to find and reference. Usually all of the information is from a diabetic educator. Diabetic education is wonderful. They take you step by step through all things diabetes. So how could you break that up a little bit more for a not so structured person. Start with a list of how to focus on aspects of diabetic care. (And yes I am the type A personality, so planning is how I function. I recognize that planning is not everyone’s strength. And it is not a downfall). Start with a few weeks as a new diabetic parent and just get to know your child’s type 1 diabetes. As a parent of a newly diagnosed diabetic I learned my child; for example I learned that his legs were hungry when he was low. While you learn your child also spend time with a basic diabetic book to understand high blood sugars, low blood sugars. insulin, and carbohydrate counting. Then I would start to dive into each topic more in-depth.

A good example would be carbohydrate counting. To do this start to learn more about how to measure and weigh carbohydrates. The package carbohydrate counting is sometimes correct and sometimes way off. So measure with a good old-fashioned scale and use that carbohydrate counting book at diagnoses. If you have that book mark the pages you use most.If you don’t go buy one. If your preschooler will only eat macaroni and cheese then mark all of the pages. (We keep one of these books in a carry bag, in a kitchen draw, at grandmas house, in all the cars. One year we found older versions at the bookstore for a dollar a piece. You guessed it we bought every single one of them). Now that the pages are marked you will find it easier to start counting carbohydrates. Live with the carbohydrate counting and then move on to the next topic of your choice.

Over the next few weeks learn in-depth a certain aspect of the new diagnosis. With breaking it down into smaller steps it becomes easier.taking it step by step allows you to master your understanding of your child’s diabetes. Also remember you are still caring daily for your diabetic child.  The first year is the hardest because type 1 diabetes is not second nature. It will come it just takes time. But the thing that is most important to emphasize is a parent can become caught up in trying to do all of the diabetic stuff and burn out easily. So BREATHE often and frequently!

It is important to stay on top of it but you as a parent needs to know when you need a break even for a few hours. You can better help you child with their diabetes if you are not burnt out from care giving. to do this use all the resources you can, books, family, spouse, to make learning and caring easier for you and your family. Diabetes did not just


impact your child, it has changed the whole family unit.

One place to start with a new diagnosis is with our book. It is for babysitters, but as authors we broke the book down in very basic topics to help people learn. The intended people are the sitters, but with a new diagnosed child the parent can also be that person to learn. And the plus side is that you will have all your kiddos information in one area. Diabetes is hard on the whole family and the primary parent tends to be the caregiver. You as a parent will learn it all and hopefully do so with as little stress as possible.

Book Interest

When we started out writing our book as writers we knew how important a book about Type 1 diabetes and babysitting would be. We did  not plan for interest so fast.  Can you imagine our excitement when so many groups showed intersed quickly.

First, a few weeks ago I picked up a Colorado Springs Kids Magazine.  I started to look through it for things to do during October and there was an article about Type 1 Diabetes. And At the end of the article the physician mentioned our book. To be fair I work in the same large medical group with Dr. Garscadden, a pediatrician. What I did not know is he was going to mention our book in his article! And thank you Colorado Springs Health Partners and Dr. Garscadden for your support!Colorado_Springs_Kids_article Secondly,  JDRF reviews books twice a year for their online bookstore. They did contact us about a month ago to ask for a copy to review. So we sent on with fingers crossed! This week we found our book on their website! At JDRF’s bookstore you can find many helpful books for raising children with type 1 diabetes. Here is their website:

Sleepovers and Type 1 Diabetes

Type 1 diabetic children and sleepovers

What was your childs first sleep over  as a type 1 diabetic? How did it go with the other parents? How did you prepare for the sleepover?

My sons first sleepover was stressful for me as a parent and a professional. He was going over to a wonderful families house to stay the night just 4 blocks away. I had trained the mother and she said she felt very comfortable helping him give shots and counting carbohydrates. I felt comfortable leaving him. But only after we had talked and discussed it thoroughly! He had only had diabetes for 8 months or so. So my husband and I had some time to ourselves for a while. Then dinner time came. The mother had called me upset because she just couldn’t give him his shot. The idea of putting a needle in another person upset her so much. This was something she did not expect to feel.  I went over and gave him his shot and then went the next morning to give him his shot. He did his own blood sugar testing. I was lucky because it was just down the street.

Once he had a pump he had an easier time with sleepovers. I still was very strict on where he could go. If he had a friend with physician parents they had an easier time keeping him overnight. They did get easier each time and as he became older.

I am curious about how this has worked for others. How did you teach families and parents? What materials did you use to teach these parents?

But mostly what is your story about the first sleepover and your type1 diabetic child?

Type 1 and Babysitting

Here is our 2 minute video clip about our book! We were so lucky to have been able to go on and discuss Type 1 diabetes and babysitting. It was all very exciting! I am a behind the scenes kind of gal (so slightly nervous) and Dayna appeared so comfortable (at least on the outside!).

We want to thank KKTV and CSHP for setting up this interview.

Check it out. We talk very briefly about the book and how it evolved! Type 1 moms developing this babysitting tool.

Denver JDRF Walk

Start of the Denver JDRF walk

Start of the Denver JDRF walk

Well here it is today.  Fundraising and meeting tons of new families and people! Getting your name out into the world is hard work!  But worth every bit.  Things we did note today that I think is important:

1. Hiring any babysitter is scary when your most precious cargo can be seriously hurt!  While having a type 1 sitter is easier, simply because the sitter knows the disease, it is not always practical.  That is how our book helps!  It is designed specifically for your child while helping a non-diabetic understand your child.

2. So many teenagers with type 1 are starting up babysitting!  Such a wonderful need!  I still think this book is important.  Your child is yours and the teenage type 1 kiddo understands the ins and outs, but needs specifics on your very individual special child.

3. Grandparents can utilize this book!  I met many today that have taken a grand parenting class but wanted the book for the type 1 in their life.

Dayna at our booth!

Dayna at our booth!

We all have our reasons for needing this or not wanting to leave our kids with just anyone.  Just anyone can be scary.  What if we found someone who is not type 1 but learned how to love and care for our type 1 with ease?  Our fear as parents may lessen and life can be a bit more normal!

There are sample pages up on the blog and Amazon lets you look through some of the book.  Take a peek.

If you are in the Colorado Front Range we will be at the Colorado Springs Walk at America the Beautiful Park next Saturday and we will be on the local KKTV news September 11 at 9 am. Check us out. If you see us around we do have books on hand for $15.

See everyone next week.

Press Release


9 September 2013 | Colorado Springs, Colorado

Stacey Smith-Bradfield and Dayna Frei

Date Night possible again for parents of children with Type 1 diabetes


After the diagnosis of a child with Type 1 diabetes, the first weeks, even months, are filled with sleepless nights, insulin shots, blood sugar numbers, and a general feeling of being overwhelmed.  From day one, parents are taught to prepare for the worst case scenario:  a plummeting blood sugar resulting in seizures or even unconsciousness.  Once a family starts to venture out of their safe, structured environment, simple pleasures such as play dates, sleepovers and even an evening out for parents seem like an insurmountable challenge.  As fellow parents of children with Type 1 diabetes, Stacey Smith-Bradfield and Dayna Frei have sought to ease the fears and frustrations of leaving children with a sitter, a nanny or even a friend.

“From a medical standpoint, you cannot gloss over the needs of a child with Type 1 diabetes.  In writing Type 1 Diabetes and Babysitting:  A Parent’s Workbook, we knew we had to cover so many critical topics,” says Smith-Bradfield, an Advanced Practice nurse.  Co-author Frei adds, “Not only is this a teaching tool for the parent, but we had to consider caregivers who might not have any knowledge of diabetes.”  The workbook walks a parent through teaching sitters about day-to-day care, as well as emergency situations, and includes places to completely tailor the pages to their child’s needs.  Additionally, Smith-Bradfield and Frei have added pull-out pages, with sections such as “Dinner and a Movie” and “Sleepovers” leaving the person in charge with the most important and likely needed information.

Julie Marmon, M.D. says, “This book provides parents a method to convey crucial data and not worry that important details have been glossed over. The step-by-step instructions and flow charts with areas to personalize, streamline care and remove fear from a situation which may be scary for sitters and family members. Great work!”

While there are hundreds of books on diabetes, Type 1 Diabetes and Babysitting: A Parent’s Toolkit is the first to simply teach the pertinent information, without overwhelming the teenager or adult caregiver.  For more information, please visit


By Stacey Smith-Bradfield and Dayna Frei

Science Horse Productions, LLC

P.O. Box 38879, Colorado Springs, CO  80937

ISBN:  978-0-615-86345-0

Price:  $15

CONTACT:      email       phone 719.237.6631

Science you say…

Dayna’s daughter brings the horse to our name, but science.  How does that fit together?  If you haven’t guessed my son is a scientist at heart.  Since he was very small he has been interested in all things with the hard sciences (physics, chemistry, mathematics).  As a preschooler Barney was boring, but give him The Science Channel and a show on dark matter and he was captivated!  While watching a fabulous show on outer space, he declared at three that he was going to fly planes, then fly to Mars.  For many years he dressed up as an astronaut and discussed ion propulsion (because that is the only way to get to Mars! Of course it is!).  His way in life was paved.  At 7 his dreams came crashing down.  His diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes and being informed that he will never be a commercial pilot, let alone a military pilot, devastated him.

But this intense interest in space and physics helped him understand what diabetes did to him and how his body reacts. He has explained Type 1 diabetes to his classrooms and friends and their parents better than I could ever (and I work in the medical field).  He gets his body.  Even with this he still had shattered dreams.  Where is Mars?  Well, he has decided diabetes won’t stop him from Mars.  He may just have to wait a while and have a cure.  Until then Quincy will solve the problem of Dark Matter and find the common ground between particle physics and quantum physics (because there must be a relationship humans don’t understand yet).

Type 1 has never slowed him down, but it has shaped his dreams.  One day science will rule and a cure will be found…until then we will balance all science, all the time with diabetes.

Between our two kids and the idea that date night does exist for T1 families, we can have a babysitter with help and training and a great sitter!  We developed Science Horse Productions.  If this book had existed when I went back to work, I would have bought it (trust me, I looked hard for one)!  But it did not.  And now it does.