Type 1 Diabetes and Growth Spurts

Growing children seem to eat parents out of house and home.  There is never enough food for them!  For example, my type 1 13-year-old is eating me out of house and home!  And the result is a three-inch growth spurt about every three months.  The problem (beyond the obvious sugar control!) is that he wants to eat all day long.  Waiting until the next meal might as well be giving him a “death sentence”.  The recommendations we received was to eat every two hours.  He is able to have an entire meal every two hours.  I thought what a great compromise!  But he still wants to graze all day long like a cow in pasture!  So I try to help him eat good food and sometimes fun foods to encourage eating well.

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So why is it a big deal for him to eat constantly?  It has to do with insulin, whether via shot or pump.  Eating more often requires insulin.  Each time he takes insulin he is stacking it on the last dose and essentially giving himself mega doses of insulin, setting himself up for a low.  Rapid insulin like Novolog or Humalog have about a 3-4 hour active time in the body. The insulin works quickly but does not leave the body quickly.  It basically means we can expect many and frequent lows.  Eating every two hours helps with this but does not necessarily eliminate stacking of insulin.  But for us it works.

Growing and grazing.  Eat, beef up and grow taller.  Type 1’s can navigate this easily without negative consequences.  Go forth and chow down!

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Growing and Grazing


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.


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

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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.