My childhood memories of living with type 1 diabetes don’t really resemble what I observe families to experience these days. I acknowledge my recollections are skewed by the innocence of childhood. I believe my parents did a fabulous job of instilling values such as resilience, independence and responsibility when it came to managing my diabetes. As an adult I have learnt that my parents did experience stress and anxiety, but they never burdened me with their feelings. Being oblivious to all of this as a child helped shape my positive attitude around self-care, management of expectations, advocacy and good health over the years.
I came across an article late last year which got me thinking. It was entitled, “The Relationship Between Maternal Fear of
Hypoglycaemia and Adherence in Children with Type 1 Diabetes”. Two of the words in the title sent prickles up my spine immediately, “Fear” and “Adherence”. A quick flick through Kim’s Diabetes Terminology Thesaurus would see these words substituted with “Awareness” and “Choices”… but that’s for another blog at another time!
My thoughts were about the fear that parents talk to me about feeling for their children experiencing undetected hypos in their sleep. I know this happens. And I know this happens a lot. I also know that my parents very rarely did blood tests on me overnight. If I could talk to my Mum, (may her soul rest in peace) I would ask her whether she lost sleep over my blood sugar levels overnight. Did she want to test, but didn’t because it wasn’t part of the recommended diabetes management plan when I was a child? Or was it a phenomenon that she wasn’t even familiar with at the time?
Not long after I read the article, (which was a good read by the way,) I had a nasty post-dinner hypo and even by bed time I only managed to raise my blood sugar level to 4.5 mmol/L. My husband, Paul was quite anxious about the potential of an overnight hypo. Only a few weeks prior to this incident, I had experienced an overnight hypo where my CGM trace was below 2.2 for several hours and I lost consciousness. Neither of us woke up to the alarms and I hadn’t switched on the Low Glucose Suspend function.
My instincts were telling me that I was fine, but obviously that wasn’t enough evidence for my husband. I told him I’d have a glass of milk going to bed and I’ll be right, but that didn’t ease his anxiety so I made a deal with him. I’d go drink that glass of milk going to bed and he could do a blood test on me at 2am on one condition – he wasn’t allowed to wake me up! So we both kept our ends of the deal and my blood glucose level at 2am was a tidy 6.1 mmol/L.
If I didn’t have a husband to check up on me at 2am I don’t think I would have woken myself to do so. I had an undeniable sense that the glass of milk would be the fix I needed.
I know it’s not science; but it worked that night.