I am on several forums with other parents of kids with type 1. They provide so much support, we can openly talk/vent/rejoice about everything. We don’t hold back, and we never judge. One topic of conversation that comes up a lot is about being a working mom and juggling the family, home, and the type 1 diabetes. Of course type 1 trumps all others.
I worked when Joey was diagnosed in May, 2009, he was only 8 yrs old, in 2nd grade. I went everyday to dose him, which took a little longer than the 30 minutes allotted for my lunch period. Luckily, my employer was OK with that. They knew I wouldn’t take advantage, but still, there are a lot of employers that can’t offer that flexibility. Which I understand.
I quit my job to stay home with Joey in the summer. Who in the world would be able to watch him? I’d have to hire a nurse, and probably train her on type 1 care. I’d be paying her double what I was making per hour, it just wasn’t worth it.
My husband Joe would love for me to go back to work, full or part-time. He thinks that now that Joey is almost 12, he’s in 6th grade, and does do most of the management himself, that I don’t really need to be home. Here is my argument, although the extra money would be wonderful. I really feel that I need to be available for Joey when/if he needs me. I won’t be able to just up and leave my job if he’s low, or needs a pod for his pump. Who’s going to be there when he calls that he’s low and doesn’t feel good? What do we do on those mornings when he wakes up in the 300’s, doesn’t happen often, but it has, and I’ve kept him home from school until he feels better and his number is back in range.
What will happen when Joey calls me at 2:00 pm from school, to tell me that his blood sugar was low, and he’s about to get on the school bus? At least now I have the option to go and pick him up so he doesn’t have the worry of being low on the bus ride home. Who is going to be at home at 2:40 when he gets off the bus? I will not let him be at home by himself. I have heard to many horror stories to let him be home alone, at any time, not just after school.
What happens when Joey has track practice after school? Yes, he can get a ride to practice, but who is going to be there to look for signs of him going low? Or monitor him if his blood sugar is above 250? Kids with type 1 should not exercise if over 250 and Ketones are present, or if blood sugar is 300 they shouldn’t exercise at all until their blood sugar is under 240. Do I lay all that on a parent coach? This also applies to basketball, and football.
Another key point is that I need to have my cell phone on me at all times. Some employers don’t want cell phones out at all in the workplace. I have to have my cell phone out at all times, in case he needs to contact me. Joe can’t take calls when he’s at work, it’s a federal offense for Joe to have his cell phone on his body during work, so I need the open line of communication for Joey to reach me.
I just don’t think that an employer is going to understand when I ask for to leave at 2:30 every time my son has a sport after school. It really is a safety issue, not a overprotective mother issue. He’s only 11 years old, maybe I’ll act and feel differently when he’s 16! Or maybe not.
Here is the fact: Type 1 diabetes is a very misunderstood disease. No-one understands how dangerous the disease is to a child. One slip up with his insulin amount, and we could be in big trouble, one run around the track without juice in his pocket, could bring on a low, very quickly, someone needs to be there, watching, ready to react. No-one better than his parent to be the one. This is my job, I’m a Pancreas Manager. Just wish the pay was better.