Santa filled his stocking with socks, underwear and Pokemon cards.
The Easter Bunny left Lego around the house instead of chocolate.
Sugar Free Jell-O has become his staple dessert at birthday parties.
But what do you do with your diabetic child on Halloween? A holiday that revolves around candy?
My boy is excited to go Trick or Treating in his new Storm Trooper costume. He’s pumped to run around in the dark with his brother, sister and friends. But he keeps asking me what we’re going to do about the candy and my only answer so far has been “we’ll worry about it on Halloween”.
BUT HALLOWEEN IS TOMORROW AND I STILL HAVE NO IDEA WHAT I’M DOING.
Clearly I need some help…and fast!
Sam’s one year diabetes anniversary is on November twenty-fourth. This will be our first rodeo having a diabetic child on Halloween. Because he’s on injections of both slow and fast acting insulin twice daily, he needs to eat a regimented amount of carbohydrates at certain times throughout the day. So what does that have to do with Halloween?
Halloween is all about running wildly from door to door while pigging out on candy. It’s about staying up late and bending the rules when it comes to bedtimes and proper nutrition.
BUT YOU CAN’T DO THAT WITH A DIABETIC CHILD.
Maybe I could go around to all of the houses in my neighbourhood and ask them to offer carb free, diabetic friendly foods like veggies, meat or cheese to the Trick or Treaters instead of candy? And while I’m at it, I’ll ask all of the kids to say “Trick or Carrot Stick” instead of Trick or Treat?
Clearly I’m delirious.
As I sit here and stress about ways to include my son in all of the Halloween fun, my husband comes up with a plan.
“Sam, how about Mom and Dad buy your Halloween candy from you and then you can use the money to get yourself something special? Like a new Lego set?”
“Really? So I can still Trick or Treat?”
“Of course,” my husband replies with a smile.
What just happened here? Did my husband just solve our Halloween dilemma?
“Sam, you’re sure you’re okay with not eating candy with your brother and sister?” I ask to make sure he fully understands.
“Yeah, I’m fine. Oh and maybe I could donate the money to the JDRF instead of getting Lego?”
What? Who is this kid?
“That’s a terrific idea” I say as my heart swells with pride.
As a parent of a diabetic child, all I want for my son is to be included. Whether it be soccer, hockey, class potlucks or Trick or Treating, I simply want him to know that having diabetes won’t stop him from doing anything that he did before his diagnosis. Sure, we might have to get a little creative, but nothing is impossible. If there’s one thing I’ve learned in the last year it’s that my son is ridiculously resilient.
I’m still relatively new to the complex world of parenting a diabetic child and I would gladly welcome Halloween tips from any Type 1 parents out there! I’d love to know how you make holidays and other special events inclusive for your kids. Feel free to let your suggestions fly in the comments! I think that my “Trick or Carrot Stick” idea is a pretty clear indication that I need all of the help that I can get!
It’s three in the morning and Adele’s voice is lulling me awake from my clock radio.
I groggily shut off the alarm and rub my eyes.
Two more minutes…I’ll get out of bed in two more minutes.
The next time I open my eyes, forty minutes has passed. Panic washes over me as I get out of bed and grab my son’s kit off of my nightstand.
I squint under the hallway light as I fumble for a lancet and a test strip.
I stumble into my son’s room and prick his finger with the tiny needle while he stays fast asleep. I hold my breath as the meter calculates his blood sugar. I want the number to be over ten so that I can go back to sleep.
It flashes 3.1.
I wake my son and inform him that he needs a “Midnight Buffet”. He angrily gets out of bed and follows me downstairs. He chugs a juice box in a daze while I try to stay awake beside him on the couch.
After fifteen minutes, I test him again.
The meter flashes 4.2.
It’s buffet time.
Still groggy, my son manages to eat a granola bar and some apple sauce. I figure that should hold him until his six-thirty breakfast and morning shot of insulin, but with Type 1 Diabetes, you really never know.
As I tuck my son back into bed and kiss his little face, I’m hit with the realization that this is diabetes.
This and so much more.
It’s the sleepless nights and the never ending worry.
It’s the panic in the pit of your stomach when your phone rings and you see that it’s the school calling.
It’s double guessing yourself as you meticulously calculate insulin doses.
It’s needing a degree in math just to make your kid a snack.
It’s knowing that there are exactly twelve grams of carbs in thirty-seven Goldfish crackers.
It’s having your son yell at you impatiently to hurry up when you have to haul him off the ice to test his blood during hockey.
It’s the mountain of paperwork involved with every new school year or extra curricular activity.
It’s the guilt that your kid has a stupid fucking incurable disease and you can’t make it go away.
It’s your husband switching careers and working the night shift so that one of us can be available in an emergency twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.
It’s people saying ridiculous things like, “but he’s not over weight”, or “I could never give my child a needle”, or “he’ll grow out of it”, or my personal favourite, “my uncle has Type 2 and he’s doing great”.
It’s wanting my son to never be left out of anything because of his disease.
Before my son got sick last November, I thought diabetes was just about drinking orange juice and avoiding sugar. I’ve learned over the last nine and a half months that it is so much more. It’s a complicated and relentless disease that never takes a day off or gives my son a break.
There is no cure for Type 1 Diabetes, also known as Juvenile Diabetes. All donations made to the JDRF go directly to research.
If you’d like to donate or if you’d like to learn more about Type 1 diabetes, check out the JDRF Canada website at http://www.jdrf.ca.
Furthermore, if you’re curious about Type 1 Diabetes signs and symptoms in children, I’ve compiled a handy little list;
-rapid weight loss
– unprovoked mood swings
-always being tired
-dark under eye circles
-sudden stuttering or losing their train of thought
-a sudden loss of interest in previously enjoyed activities
I also just want to say that if you ever feel like something is “off” with your child, trust your gut and follow your instincts.
Thanks for reading and also a huge shout out to all of our friends and family who have been so supportive. You know who you are and big love to you all!