« Dotties. | Main | Second Verse, Same As the First. »

Testing Birdy.

(This moment happened a few weeks ago, during the same week that Birdy was sick with Pukefest 2012 and she was so dehydrated. I wanted there to be a definitive conclusion before I shared it. And I also wanted to be a little calmer, too. Everything is fine now.)

Just watching her, laying on the bathroom floor and acting … grouchy? Irritable? Weak? I recognized something in the way she was behaving. I knew something wasn't right. And it wasn't mother's intuition. It was recognition.

I sat on the floor next to her and took my glucose meter off the bathroom counter.

"Mama is going to test her blood sugar. See? You've seen this before."

"Meh-cine?"

"Exactly - Mama's medicine. So I'm going to use this little blue thing and prick my finger and - oh, there's a little bit of blood! It didn't hurt. Now I'll stick it on this machine and we'll wait and see what Mama's meter says."

My blood sugar was 104 mg/dL. The irony of that "on the box" number wasn't lost on me.

"Okay, now it's Birdy's turn, right?"  I swapped out the lancet for a new one, and as I put a new test strip into the meter, I asked my daughter to let me see her foot.

"I'm going to check you now, okay? Like we did the other night? It's fine - Mama is super fast at this. Ready?"  And I took her little foot into my hand and pressed the lancing device against her heel. For the first time in decades, I thought about how the lancing device worked, and how the spring shot the lancet forward. How the needle pierces the skin and you have to squeeze to draw forth that drop of blood. I remembered that it hurts.

"Oh, okay Mama."

She wiggled uncomfortably while I coaxed out a drop of blood, and the seconds scraped by like the windshield wipers against ice that just won't melt on the glass.  The meter beeps, and I see a 56 mg/dL.

The next few minutes go by in a strange, nervous haze and I force her to eat some fruit snacks and have a few sips of juice. Her disposition improves, and her mood seems to change just a bit for the better. But it's hard to tell because she still has this horrible flu and is so, so dehydrated that when she cries, no tears come. I have absolutely no idea what to think, or how to react, or what to do. I gather her up in my arms and call the pediatrician.

After waiting for a bit (it was after office hours), she calls me back and we talk about what's going on.  I told her about how we were at the ER earlier in the week, and how the ER docs ran labwork, including blood sugar, and how Birdy's was low.  "Fifty-nine, and today she was 56." I said into the phone, and Birdy snuggled into my shoulder. I reiterated what the pediatrician at the ER said, which was that a severely dehydrated toddler can run blood sugars that are slightly lower than normal, due to the lack of hydration. And then I asked her what I should do.

"This is a unique situation, because most people don't have the tools to test their child's blood sugar at home. This could happen to a lot of kids who have the flu, and there isn't a means of tracking the data. I agree with the emergency room doctor, in that your daughter's numbers aren't way out of range. They're just slightly lower than what's considered normal for toddlers. If she were running high, we'd have a different course of action."

She and I decided that I should keep an eye on Birdy as she recovers, and to use my own discretion about testing or not testing her. I made a follow-up appointment with her for the next morning. As the week ran its course, Birdy recovered from her illness, the pediatrician gave her a clean bill of health, and we moved on once Birdy started dancing in the kitchen again.

But it stayed in my head, those moments.  The following week, after her illness, I randomly checked her blood sugar again. I had to. Everyone blamed her flu and the dehydration for those low blood sugar numbers, but I had to be sure. I needed to see an in-range number so that I could let this panic go. I pricked her little heel, a week later and when she was back to her normal, bubbly self, and held my breath as the meter counted down.  86 mg/dL. 

A few days after that, I did one, last, random check.  92 mg/dL. 

She made a face at me and said, "Done? Done meh-cine?"

Just go be a kid, kid.

Birdy is almost two, and this is the first time I've ever tested her blood sugar myself. She drinks like Napoleon Dynamite sometimes, grabbing the sippy cup and throwing it back like she's just paced with Jay Hewitt for an Ironman. Some mornings, she wakes up and her diaper is soaked.  Some days, she's just plain grumpy. But it's par for the course of any kid, at this point. I know the signs of diabetes, and I do not ignore them. Right now, she's fine and healthy and safe. And we're going with that.

"Done, baby. All done."

I know what to worry about. I refuse to wait for something to happen that may not ever happen. As I've said before, if her health status were to change, my job is to ensure that her 'happy' status doesn't.

Comments

So, so scary! I know exactly what you mean about those numbers counting down and holding your breath, so scary. So glad everything is fine!

OMG, Kerri. What a way to bring me to tears!
I can't tell you the amount of times I have contemplated the same thing with BabyK while he's been sick. Two ear infections back-to-back, sluggish, eating or drinking everything possible sometimes, then other times nothing and puking as hard as his little body can muster. Even at times when he's not sick, but goes through soaked diaper after soaked diaper. Then we have nights like last night when he's barely wet.
I even have a few of the neonatal prickers they used in the NICU left from his stay there after birth. I don't want this thought to cross our minds, but it does. Stupid diabetes.

I pray this is something that only has to happen occasionally, when she is showing signs that hopefully are symptoms of other things. You're an awesome T1 and as far as I am concerned the ranks of T3s are already over filled.

How stressful, but it seems like you've got a good handle on the situation. I can't even imagine what it will be like when I have kids, terrified at every whisper of a symptom. I'll try to remember posts like this at times like that.

Always a hard one to deal with... I have a type 1 daughter that was 3 when dx, she is now 11. I learned about the symptoms because when her brother was born, he had blood sugar issues at birth for several days for no known reason... Over the years he displays symptoms and i check.. We have had on the higher end 189... and lower 40 while fasting. with ketones.. YET no diabetes> I have gotten to the point i refuse to check blood for him any more at home.> SO when he is showing sighs we do a pee test to see if glucose or ketones are present. IF they are then we do blood test. I do not want him to be afraid of it if it ever developed. He is now 8 and still has his moments. HE is followed by trial net and per them he has a 90% chance of developing it.. He has no HLA gene protection and is positive for 3 out of the 4 antibodies. BUT for now his body always seem to self correct. Is now in the preventive study too. Having a type 1 kid is hard. You worry for them all the time, if you have other kids, you worry about them too> I cant imagine what you go through when you are the mom with type 1 and the worry you have for your children. Keri you are a fantastic role model. Thank you for sharing your life with us all in every thing you do. BTW, birdy is awfully cute!!!

She will always be healthier, diabetes or not, because she is learning from you. My husband and I were disappointed when our test for diabetes at Camp Carefree in NH, came back negative. We would have gladly taken the disease so that Briley wouldn't have it. As always, life isn't about what you have, but what you do with what life gives you.

I can totally relate as well. My 4 year old son has been saying lately that he's thirsty - a lot. And whenever he does, I have "the thought", too. Haven't broken out the meter yet, though. Even my good friend, she called me one night saying her 4 year old was extra thirsty and going potty more, grumpy, etc. I asked her if she wanted me to drive over and test her. She opted not to because it was late that night, and it ended up just being a bug. But that thought is still always in the back of my mind T1 mind when anything is out of the "norm". We didn't know it ran in my family until after my diagnosis 19 1/2 years ago, so I always have the "fear" of "breaking the seal" so to speak .... :/ But I like what you said - that even if we do pass this on to our babies ... it's our job to make sure they are still happy. And who best to manage it than a T1 mommy? :)

I was diagnosed with type 1 in 1972.
My daughter is now 37 yrs. young.
When she was Bird's age, the only test we had to use at home were the urine strips.
It was never really mentioned by my physician to keep an eye on her or be too concerned.
Now, she is the one who keeps a close watch and gets checked fairly often.
I should probably supply her with a one of my meters, so she'd have one for personal use.
So far, though, no signs or symptoms, thank you, Lord !
It is wonderful to hear that your daughter lets you check her b.g. without having a tantrum!
You are obviously doing something right !
good job, mom!

I think we've all done it to our non-d kids when they've been sick. Especially when the sickness mimics what we saw at dx. For whatever it's worth, my child w/o D has tested high when she's had a pretty nasty bug, not high high, but nearish to 200 which sent us in a panic to the dr's where her a1c came back in the ridiculously mocking range of something like 4.8.

It's normal. We all do it.

Kerri, there is a story among cancer patients that says that cancer is like a walrus that has taken over your living room. While we are in treatment and for a long time afterwards the walrus completely controls your room, but over time the walrus shrinks in size until one day you notice a tiny ornamental walrus on the shelf. It never goes away, but it does slip to a place on the shelf. The unfortunate thing about diabetes is that the walrus never shrinks. It is there every day taking control of the remotes for your tv and wii. That you tested Birdy shows your concern, that his was the first time shows your restraint. You're doing fine.

awww... ((HUGS)) You're an awesome mama! You did very well to wait this long to test her. I had 'the thought' once, and had to test my son in the middle of the night and he still kicked & fought me! He was not as easy going as your sweet lil' girl. And I agree... those 5 seconds absolutely stand still.
I'm so glad everything is A-OK and she's back to her cute bubbly self! :)

So glad she is okay!

(and glad you went for the foot instead of her tiny perfect Birdy fingers)

I am with you, Kerri. My daughter is 11 months, and even though we used an egg donor and technically she doesn't have my "diabetes genes" or whatever, I can't help but fear it will rear it's ugly head one day with her. Those super wet morning diapers, a random unquenchable thirst, or weird eating patterns always make the question mark bubble pop up in my head.....I don't ignore it, but I do try to quash it down, take deep breaths, and NOT worry when there's nothing to worry about. But it's super hard :-/

it seems we have the opposite problem....every time I test, my son (nearly 6) wants to test his also and I find myself having to convince him that he does need not test every time I do.

Of course the first time we ever did test him, my wife and I were shocked at the number we saw and our hearts sank as we tried to process what we saw on the meter. Lots of hushed conversations later we realised that we had tested him in the middle of his dinner and he (knowing the way he eats) would have had food all over his hands. A test the following morning was about perfect and so was the huge sense of relief we felt.

But still, every so often when we do let him test, it is such a relief to see the results. I once spoke to someone who talked about numbers being beautiful, I just never realised until these times what a beautiful number looks like :)

I am so glad that your little one is fine. My boys are older (15 & 19) and I still worry whenever I see something "familiar". The other morning my 19 yo woke up feeling dizzy and shaky. I immediately whipped out my testing supplies. His number was fine, thank goodness. I worry. We all worry. I think it is par for the course. (((HUGS)))

I'm so glad Birdy is ok, Kerri. I tested Gem shortly before diagnosis and she was 11mmols. Waaaaay higher than I thought she should be. But she'd been eating those awful sugary high coloured ice pops, and I was convinced by all around me that I was being paranoid. I wasn't.

Ugh, I know exactly how you feel...me and my hubby are both T1 - one day I picked up my son at preschool and the teacher told me he was acting totally out of character and not participating with the other kids. And then she said, "But then we had snack time, and he drank a juice box and perked right up!" To anyone else, this is just an off-handed comment. My world, however, was crashing around me. I took him to the car, tested him and he was 174. Thankfully, my doctor's office was a few blocks away...and when I showed up in the middle of their lunch hour, tears streaming down my face, they agreed to take a look. I was told not to worry...this doctor was just wonderful and told me that he would bet the bank that he was getting sick (as in the flu) and I should wait and see what happens. The doctor was 100% correct...he spiked a fever later that afternoon and was sick for a few days. I tested him regularly for a few days and he was always fine, but, really, this would never have crossed my mind if I didn't know diabetes. It really makes you wonder what happens to your body in so many ways from a "simple" flu, cold or infection. Thank God she is OK Kerri! And mine is too, at 11 years old.

Not ten minutes before I read this, my almost-four-month old baby was drinking milk like he was preparing for a 40-year drought, and crying bloody murder. Of course, the thought entered my mind as well, but I wasn't quite ready to do a test just yet. Fortunately, my wife came home and as able to feed him more than what I had in the bottle, and all is well).

As a Type-1 parent, that's one if my biggest fears --- passing it on to my child. It made me contemplate, for a moment, even having kids.
I hope that, some day, I'll be able to comfortably say that my kids were fortunate enough to dodge D, but unfortunately we've learned it affects adults as well. I'm sure you feel the same way.

By the way, I think BG's in the 50s are normal for young kids. Four months ago, when my baby was in the hospital and in the NICU (for non-D related issues), they checked his blood sugar regularly and it was always in the 40s and 50s. Apparently, that's "normal" for newborns, but my heart still skipped a beat every time I saw that number.

Oh, and by the way Kerri, you handled this very well with your child, and Birdy is one brave kid!

Parents of kids with D are the most incredible people in the world. I hope you (and I), go on to be just shy of "most incredible".

Oh how scary!! I have never checked kbug's blood sugar, but I do have the ketone strips and have used them with her wet diapers. Waiting feels like the world stops spinning and my heart stops beating. I am so sorry you had such a rough week and am so so happy to hear the little birdy is ok!!

Does anyone know statistic wise what the likelihood is of a child of a type 1 parent to get type 1 as well?

wow great article!

((((((Mama & Birdy))))))

You may wiki Ketotic Hypoglycemia and just keep it in the back of your mind. My son Jack was diagnosed with it last year...after quite a few episodes of lows (40 BG) He has only been low right at the beginning of an illness and his body does not appear to ever let him go below 40, which is good and I'm thankful for that. However, I did learn the hard way that ketones are a very big problem for him. He ended up with 4.6 (blood ketones) and throwing up in the parking lot of the lab when I was trying to get a blood test done for him while he was low. It was very scary and upsetting for both of us! Because the diagnosis is somewhat vague and there really is nothing to do but keep him drinking sugar when he's sick, and eating pretty frequently it's not too big of a deal, but I am glad we know about the ketone problem so we can keep a better eye on him! I think I tested Jack within the first year of his sisters (Ellie now 5) D diagnosis! So you made it quite awhile before testing her!

Addy was 24 months. She was my only child then, and she seemed so grown up to me. Her clothes seemed so big compared to the newborn stuff...she was walking and talking and doing cool things. She was such a BIG kid!

And that was almost 7 years ago. Today I see your sweet Birdy, and I realize just how little she was.

Oh, those sweet little fingers and toes. Even when they get older, you will still marvel over how perfect they are.

I'm happy she's feeling better!!!

I'm glad she's OK and feeling better. I understand how you must feel at times, thinking that your beautiful child may have to deal with diabetes. But your knowledge is a blessing, and sometimes a little worry is not that bad.

This made me cry. Too scary to even think about, right? Birdy is a lucky young lady to have such a great mom. I'm glad that it turned out so well.

Oh Kerri, this hits incredibly close to home. We just had this with our son. We had to keep taking him to the hospital to have his blood drawn. Each time his insulin and A1C levels come back low. LOW!!! But the doctors keep telling us not to worry. It could be a number of things. His pancreas is starting to fail and he'll eventually have T1, it was a fluke, or he had a infection. They told us the same thing--you can't prevent T1 and nothing can really be done until his blood sugars go high. Not very reassuring, but reassuring enough to us now. --Traci, formerly Diabetic Parents

I didn't know kids without T1 could have those bgs - how scary! Love your last line - very true. You have to be extra brave to be a T1 parent.

I have a whole mess of second cousins who are Type 1.
I still , always, get anxious when my nephews order refills on their pop......

My children are routinely pricked. I think living with diabetes installs a medic version of "helicopter parenting.". Interestingly, a recent study found that children of mothers with diabetes were diagnosed 5 years later than those of fathers with diabetes. Genetically, children of mothers with diabetes carry a 3% risk of developing it whereas those of fathers with DM ha e a 7% risk. However, there is still that 3% and most of us (PWD of parents without it) were the unlucky 0.5% to develop it.

I am hypervigilant. I am also a role model for them if they DO ever develop the disease (as I have been for my little brother dx'ed 10 years after me).

What a brave little birdie! I don't think getting a blood sugar level once a year or so is a bad idea... maybe it should be done routinely at the yearly physical. Since you have a glucometer and know what to do, it is up to your discretion. You know what to look for and your reasons for testing. Try not to worry too much, though, as the risk is still very low for Birdy. There will be many childhood illnesses and I am sure you will test only when you feel she is showing symptoms that cause you to question. Glad Mom and Birdy are doing fine. Glad you can now relax.

Tears...I went through many checks with Bridget during the first year after Joe's diagnosis. I can relate to this post big time Kerri. Glad the Bird is OK. xo

I'm sorry I'm commenting a little late on this, it just that, when I read this I could relate. I have type 1, and my worst fear is that my little sister is going to someday be stuck with this. Every time she complains about anything even remotely closed to a symptom, I suck in my breath... Thank you. It's really nice to know I'm not the only one to worry about a loved one like that.

I know the feeling well. But, unfortunately for us, this nightmare came true. My husband is type 1 and my 9 year old son was diagnosed last summer. What a terrible day that was. But with some time and perspective I now see how strong we all are, myself included. What seemed at the time like the end of the world is now under control and manageable on most days.

On the other hand, I have two other kids and my paranoia cannot be stopped! LOL. I am always looking for signs and praying two won't become three!

Hello!
I remember worrying so much when my guys was that little (he's 8 now)... One of my fellow diabetic Mamas suggested using urine strips as a pre-screener (in the potty, as we were potty training kiddo at the time)...Not as accurate as a finger/foot jab, but usually helped calm my brain especially in times of erratic behavior/schedules/illness/etc... I knew I could follow up with a poke if kiddo was still acting "off" or if he came back as spilling any sugar. Now we have the strips that test for 12 different things at once as we also have an enzyme disorder (G6PD deficiency- which is also a suspect in damaging the beta cells and causing type 1 in some people) and that way I can be reassured about his sugar and also check to see if he has any other things going on and whether they warrant calling the docs office. At around 2 Alex started carrying around my spare meter (I gave him the onetouch ultrasmart as I wasn't using the features) and he would make a click noise with his tongue to pretend to test when I would test... It was so cute and a little heartbreaking, but it is my normal and having a diabetic Mama is his normal. He doesn't have diabetes and if our enzyme thing is the cause of my type 1, I think we are handling that early and well enough that maybe luck will be on his side... All we need is love (and meters, strips, lancets, syringes, pumps, infusion sets, insulin, glucose tablets... :-)

I worry. Day and night. I worry as my now 8 month old daughter has yet to be sick, and I do not 'protect' her from the environment . . . I worry that her strong immune system will absolutely turn against her with her first illness, which may be just a simple cold. We have exposed her to the environment since she was two weeks old.

I fear everyday what the future may bring for her, but I can't let my husband or her know that fear I have.

I have a meter for her, a pretty pink one, but have yet to use it. I don't know when I'll be compelled to use it, but I'll know when the time is right.

I hate this disease that has been my burden for almost 30 years . . .

Post a comment

(All comments are moderated. Thanks for your patience!)