One of the most optimistic parts of Carter’s diagnosis at the age of 6 months old was the fact that he didn’t feel his highs or his lows. He could be 40 or he could be 550 and you wouldn’t know a difference in our tiny infant. He’d still smile and coo as if nothing was even remotely out of the ordinary. For most diabetic parents, that’s a nightmare. Surely, even with Dexcom and other constant glucose monitors, you’d want your child to have SOME type of instinct that they’re going low or high. The more warning signs for either hypo or hyperglycemia, the better.
But I’m in a different category than most diabetic parents. I am the parent of a diabetic who was diagnosed as an infant. I watched my tiny little boy, all of 13lbs, be repeatedly poked on his tiny toes and jabbed with a needle for blood draws… over and over and over again. The sight of my infant’s tiny toes all bloody from multiple blood sugar tests made me want to cry for days for him. So quite honestly, his not feeling high and low blood sugar made me feel just a little better. I didn’t want my baby boy to be miserable all the time as we titrated doses and tried to get him on somewhat of an insulin regimen. I thought for sure that we’d been granted a reprieve, if only for a little while.
And now that little while is over. Now my days are spent catching highs and lows and Carter himself! My 20lb, 14 month old is on the move and into everything! But with this newfound mobility and entrance into toddlerhood has come the inevitable feelings of highs and lows. When he’s high, he’s crabby, drinks everything he can gets his hands on and doesn’t want to run all over the place like normal. He’s very sluggish and sleepy when high. When he’s going low, particularly around nap or bedtime, he refuses to go to sleep until treated. Almost as if he can sense what’s coming and doesn’t feel calm or comfortable enough to go to sleep. I haven’t noticed any physical signs such as becoming shaky or disoriented, but he seems to have that 6th sense when he’s about to go low.
There are lots of symptoms to be on the lookout for when a diabetic’s blood sugar is high or low. Many of them overlap, which makes the use of Dexcom and Glucose Meters a very highly suggested concept! The chart below gives some common signs of high or low blood sugar.
I knew the day would likely come when Carter felt the change in his blood glucose levels. To be honest, as he gets older it will be a very beneficial thing for him to know how his body feels when experiencing a high or low. We will better be able to guide him on his own diabetes management that much better when he knows he doesn’t like how he feels when he goes out of range. As a toddler, still, though, it makes me feel that much more guilty when I’m the one in charge of his dosing and sugar levels 24/7. Seeing my little guy super thirsty and irritable because I miscalculated his carbohydrates for lunch sends a jabbing pain through my heart. Like I failed him. Even worse is when he’s going low and I’m frantically trying to get him to drink apple juice or eat gel or cotton candy (definitely mom of the year with that low treatment!). I can see it in his eyes that he’s a little confused and feels as though something is “off”. And knowing I caused that by miscalculating his insulin dose just wrecks me.
There’s good and bad to this disease at its every level. As an infant, not feeling highs and lows was a blessing for us. It allowed me to get the hang of dosing and using technology for Carter without him feeling any different regardless of his blood glucose levels. As a toddler, I feel it’s a heavy burden to bear. I feel solely responsible when he feels bad due to his levels and strive to do better for him. But as we go into preschool, school age and beyond, I’m sure the ability to detect his own highs and lows will become super helpful with his management.
What age was your child when they first started detecting their own blood sugar highs and lows? How did that make you feel? Did it make your life easier or harder? If you child still doesn’t feel their own elevated or decreased blood glucose, do you think they ever will?