Type 1 Diabetes

Parentships – Parents that make the Difference

What is the first thing that comes to mind when your kid asks if he can have friends spend the night?  My mind works like this: what do they have tomorrow, what food do we have/need, and how many kids, do we have enough pillows, blankets, and where will they all sleep?  And the answer is usually yes. The more the merrier!

But it’s different when Joey comes to us and asks if he can spend the night at someone else’s house!  Then my mind goes to: do the parents know about type 1 diabetes, will they be mindful of his needs. Will they administer Glucagon?  Will they be okay with possibly getting a call from me 2:00 am because Joey isn’t answering my text?

Because type 1 is so unpredictable it’s hard to say yes! On the other hand I hate to say no!  One thing is for sure,  we appreciate more than anything the parents who embrace Joey and want him to spend the night at their house!  It’s truly a blessing to us.

Funny enough Joey will start to educate the parents of his friends if he sees the potential in the friendship that it might lead to a sleep over!  After basketball he showed one of his friends mom how his pod and pdm work! Guess what, he’s spending the night there!

Life leads us to many people, for a high school kid it’s usually the kids from whatever team or club he is on at the time which determines who he might hang out with. Joey’s football buddies were all his best friends, they spent many nights at each other’s houses over 4 months time! (Football is the longest season!) Because Joey is a freshmen, when basketball season started it was a lot of new friendships, with new friendships come the sleepovers. Hence him teaching the parents about type 1 diabetes.  It really makes me proud and happy for him that he takes the initiative to teach people in his life about type 1 because he knows that it’s needed.  They are taking a huge responsibility by having him at their house and he appreciates them.

I asked one mom her feelings on Joey spending the night. I sent her some questions and asked her to answer honestly.  Here are the questions and her responses:

#1: Question: Do you think of Joey differently than you think of your sons other friends? Answer: I do think of Joey differently. I worry more about him.

#2. What do you think about when he sleeps over? Any concerns?  Answer: “I think more about food. Making sure that I have food available and that Joey will take food if he needs it. I worry about having my phone near by (with ringer ON) so that I am available to you and Joe. (Especially after having the one time that you couldn’t get ahold of us.”)

#3. Do you think that you have a good grasp on type 1 Diabetes? Answer: “NO. I am totally open to learning.”

#4.  How did it feel when I asked you to look in and see if Joey was breathing? Answer:  “I guess it felt like a rush of adrenaline. I moved very quickly to see if he was breathing.”

#5. Is there a way that I could ask that question differently: Answer:  “No I like direct and to the point.”

#6. Do you think that your son (Joey’s friend) understands type 1?  Answer: “I don’t know that he does understand. I don’t think that any of the boys understand. I know that he wants to be there for Joey. He loves him. I want him and all of the boys to know what to do for Joey if he needs help.

#7. Do you ever talk to Joey about t1d?  Answer: “No. I haven’t talked to him. I try to treat him like the rest of the boys and I don’t want to embarrass him or make him uncomfortable. I don’t want you to think that you have to hesitate to be frank with me about Joey. He is your child and it is your job to protect him. I would not forgive myself if anything happened on my watch so help me to help Joey. If there are things that I need to know, please tell me.”

I’m so appreciative of my friends honesty, it gives me insight. Before Joey was diagnosed he was super popular, always invited to birthday parties, kids houses for sleepovers, etc. once he was diagnosed those invitations stopped. Now that he’s older, we appreciate Joey’s friends parents- for taking Joey into their home, and for their continued support of him! It’s hard to ask someone to check on your child to see if he’s breathing, it’s our reality, but I want to be sensitive to the fact that it’s not an easy question.  Some might be taken aback by the thought of asking someone to check and see if their child is breathing but it’s what we do every morning!  If we want to allow him to sleep in, without waking him for a blood sugar check, we need to make sure he’s breathing.  It’s because of “dead in bed syndrome,” where kids go to bed and don’t wake up because their blood sugar went very low.

One of my most popular blog posts was about “what you can do for a family with a new type 1 diabetes diagnoses,”  the most popular answer  was: “for a friend to learn about it so the parents can have a break once in a while-with piece of mind!”  This is the gift you are giving to a family with a child who has type 1, everytime you have them over to your home! Thank you!


The Morning after
Joey and friends the morning after a sleepover! Friendship is Priceless!  Thanks to my friend Jackie for the picture, and the sleepover!

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Twitter @tbalis1 and @T1DiabetesWorld


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