In March 2009, my world changed. My second daughter, Adrianna, who was then four years old, was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes. Five years later, Joey, one of my twin boys, was also diagnosed at the age of five.
Everyone living with diabetes needs a support network, and that’s even more crucial for children living with type 1 diabetes. I am proud of all of my children. With Adrianna and Joey, I am proud how they have learned to live and get on with their lives while coping with diabetes. As a parent, I have played my part, along with my other children, Maya and Ezra. Here’s what life looks like on a typical day of a 24/7/365 disease with no days off or vacations.
3 a.m. I wake up and do a blood sugar test on Adrianna and Joey. While they can be half-asleep, I need to check that their blood sugar does not go too low. This can happen during the night. If their readings are low, I wake them up and have them take some sugar and then recheck their blood sugar until it goes into normal range. Then back to bed for a few hours more sleep.
8 a.m. Wake up all the children for school. Another blood sugar test for Adrianna and Joey. I help them administer their long-acting insulin and give them fast-acting insulin if needed. After breakfast, I herd the cats and get all four of them off to school.
I prepare their lunches to take to their schools. While Adrianna and Joey are at school, they will check their blood sugar every two hours, starting at 10:30 a.m.
12:30 p.m. I go to Adrianna’s school. We discuss her day so far – health, school, and whatever else is on her mind. Then, we check her blood sugar and discuss what she has eaten. It’s important to talk about what has gone on and what activities she has taken part in, such as dance and gym class. How active she has been impacts her blood sugar levels. I bring my children a hot lunch every day so they know exactly how many carbohydrates they are eating; this is a key measurement to know exactly how to adjust their fast-acting insulin after lunch and throughout the afternoon.
1 p.m. I meet Joey at home, as he comes home every day for lunch. As with Adrianna, we talk about his day, what he’s been eating and doing throughout so far. Tracking their daily habits and food intake develops good habits that reduces their sick days so they don’t miss school.
1:30 p.m. I drop Joey back off at school.
3 p.m. I pick up Adrianna and we do a blood test. Next, I pick up Joey and do a blood test on him. I have snacks handy if their blood sugar is low and needs a boost. We rush home, they change, have a quick bite to eat and then one or more of them gets ready for an extracurricular activity.
4:30 p.m. We’re in the car ready to leave. Joey goes to four hours of gymnastics with his brother on Monday, Wednesday and Saturdays. He has snacks in case his blood sugar starts to drop. He can test his blood sugar on his own while he is there. Adrianna goes to gymnastics Tuesdays and Thursdays and follows the same schedule as Joey. Her other extracurricular activity is swimming.
9 p.m. After gymnastics, Joey and Adrianna come home and put their insulin pump back on. They recheck their blood sugar levels and have a hearty meal. Joey’s favourite is a hamburger.
9:30 p.m. Time for them to wind down.
10 p.m. Bedtime!
It’s a busy day for them – and for me. I want them to have an active lifestyle because it keeps them healthy and shows them that type 1 diabetes does not slow them down or stop them from doing anything else that someone their age can do.
Amy Crespi poses above with her children, Maya, Ezra, Joey and Adrianna, in Dr. Frederick Banting’s room at Banting House).
Andrew Cairns is a freelance writer who graduated from the public relations program at Seneca College in Toronto, and who, as a volunteer with the CDA, wrote Amy Crespi’s story. He hopes to work with a non-profit organization in future.
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