Siobhan Brooks is never off the clock. That’s because three of her four children live with type 1 diabetes. At any given time, each of the girls will test different and feel different. One may have low blood sugar and need a snack, while another may need an insulin injection. Continually testing and monitoring blood sugar levels, counting carbs, calculating insulin injections and being on alert for lows demands Siobhan’s time, attention and energy. And forget spontaneity. “Everything must be planned ahead. Wherever we go, whatever the kids are doing, we need to pack insulin, juice, snacks, and glucagon for rapid glucose recovery,” says Siobhan.
After the first diagnosis, I was so scared. I worried that I wouldn’t be able to do everything I needed to do.
Siobhan’s youngest daughter, Kahli, was the first to be diagnosed. One day, quite unexpectedly, Kahli told her mom that it burned when she peed. When tested, Kahli’s blood sugar level was dangerously high. Kahli was rushed to a hospital in Halifax, where she received urgent treatment and Siobhan began a crash course in diabetes management. “It’s like suddenly you’re expected to be a doctor,” says Siobhan. “The weight of the responsibility was overwhelming.”
About a month later, Vienna was diagnosed and a few months after that, Braelyn was diagnosed. “I had a hard time understanding why three of my children had type 1 diabetes,” says Siobhan.
For the first few years, the nights were the hardest.
Siobhan would stay up until midnight and if everyone’s sugars were in range, she’d go to bed. Then she’d get up at 2 a.m. and again at 4 a.m. to check. If the levels were high, she’d give an insulin shot. If they were low, she’d wake the child to have a juice. “One time Kahli’s glucose level was so low I had trouble waking her up. After that, the girls were afraid of having lows to the point that Vienna was sneaking food before bed,” says Siobhan. Things improved when the girls started using glucose monitoring devices. The devices continually monitor each girls’ blood sugar levels and send alerts to their phones and to Siobhan’s phone when action is needed, day or night.
We spend a lot of time monitoring, managing and talking about diabetes, but we’re determined not to let it run our lives.
Siobhan and her family don’t let diabetes rob them of the things they like to do. All four children are involved in a variety of activities, including volleyball, football, cross fit, hockey and skiing. The family also takes time to participate in various fundraisers and events to spread awareness about diabetes. This Diabetes Month let’s all make time to educate ourselves and our communities about the realities and complexities of living with diabetes. Learn more at diabetes.ca/letsmaketime
Diabetes Awareness Month is a time when individuals, community groups and organizations around the globe bring attention to diabetes and urge action to tackle this epidemic that affects 1 in 3 people in Canada. We’re calling on Canadians to show support for people affected by diabetes by spending their time learning more about this too-often “invisible” condition and sharing that knowledge with their communities. Learn more at Let’s Make Time to End Diabetes. #LetsMakeTime #DiabetesAwarenessMonth
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