Are you worried about sleepovers? Wondering how to plan? Stacey answers a listener question and explained what worked for her and Benny.
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Stacey Simms 0:00
This minisode of Diabetes Connections is brought to you by the World’s Worst Diabetes Mom. Real life stories of parenting a child with Type One Diabetes. Available now as eBook paperback and audio book, Learn more at diabetes dash connections.com
This is diabetes connections with Stacey Simms.
Welcome to another of what I’m calling minisodes of diabetes connections. These are going to be shorter shows just me your host Stacey Simms, sharing some thoughts, advice and experience. As always keep in mind, everything I’m talking about here is through my personal experience as a parent of a child with Type One Diabetes. I am not a medical professional. I am the author of the world’s worst diabetes mom. So please keep that in mind.
As you listen. I’m going to be talking today about sleep overs and what worked for us and this was sparked by a message I got from Mike. We talked about Mike and his son Ryan, in one of our last Tell me something good segments of 2019. And Mike followed up and asked me, Ryan is I believe in third grade. And he was asking me about sleep overs for the future. So I thought this might be a really good time to talk about what we did and what worked with the backdrop of Benny, my son being diagnosed before he turned two and he is now 15.
We give him a lot of independence. Just a couple of weeks ago, he went on an overnight with the wrestling team. They were two and a half hours away. We did not go through everything as I would have with a fine-tooth comb two years ago with the wrestling coach or the team mom, although everybody knows he has type one. I made a plan with Benny and he was fine. I don’t expect anybody to start out that way. I mean, remember, it’s been 13 years of type one for us. And I am I should say, a mom that really pushes independence toward my kids. My kids push back at me, both of my kids wanted to go away to sleepaway camp when they were little. So that’s the backdrop that we’re working on.
But here’s what we did. And here’s what I think is important for anybody who wants to start sleep overs. First of all, you’ve got to be okay with sleep overs with or without diabetes. Some people don’t like them at all and don’t want their kids to do them. That’s fine. As long as it’s not because of diabetes. I don’t think anybody should feel, you know, shamed or embarrassed or bad about that. That’s a parent decision. And I’ve seen online where some people have said, well, it’s part of growing up and don’t ruin their fun. Look, if it’s not your thing, it’s not your thing. Don’t do it. I’m actually not a big fan of them myself. I find them to be a giant pain to host at my house. And then I worry when they’re not at my house and nobody sleeps. Look that some people love them. And if you’re listening this far, you’re probably thinking about doing it.
Alright, so here’s what I think you need to keep in mind. First of all, I think your kid should be able to check his own blood glucose and give insulin – with supervision, right? But a child who’s going away for an overnight really needs to be able to poke a finger. Get a blood glucose reading. I don’t care if your kid uses a CGM. This is something that every kid needs to be able to do if they’re away from home, even for a night and give insulin using an insulin pump, or if on MDI, multiple daily injections, got to be able to do it. Otherwise, you’re in a situation where you’re really leaning on the host parents to go above and beyond and they probably have other kids to worry about that night. So in my personal feeling and experience, I just did not ever asked any other parent to handle Benny’s pump or check his blood glucose. You may have a relationship with your friends where they do that. We did not. And there’s nothing wrong with giving your kid a goal. You want to go on sleep overs. Hey, let’s work on doing these things.
If you don’t have a CGM, it really is okay to let your kids go on sleep overs. We did not have a continuous glucose monitor. Until then he was nine years old. So we had seven years of no CGM. Is life better with it? Heck, yeah. Would I give it back? No, thank you. But my point is that you really can do this without a CGM without remote monitoring. And here’s how we did that. Okay, so in the couple of years before Benny had the Dexcom, we would check in with him at dinner, and before bed, and I know this is gonna sound terrible. He didn’t even have a cell phone. I feel like a stone age parent. But we would check in with the parents we would call the house or they would call me from their cell phone, or we would just text back and forth, I would check in with the parents. And we would say, What’s blood glucose? What are you eating, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah, and make a plan. Same thing before bed and I use that loosely, we would set up a time with the parents, you know, when they were little, it was probably 10 o’clock. And I would check in what’s going on with blood glucose, what’s going on with food, and we would decide what the rest of the night would bring.
Ask your doctor about this as well, because you might consider increasing the target range overnight. You know, it means some math with multiple daily injections. And it probably means just changing a pump setting or even a temporary pump setting if you use an insulin pump. Now before you yell at me, “I don’t want to increase my child’s target range, we keep it tight at 85.” Well, you might have a problem with sleep overs. If you want to keep your child within a super tight range. I don’t think the first sleep over is the time to do that. I think you’re setting yourself up for a lot of stress. And I think you’re setting your child up for a lot of stress.
In most insulin pumps, you have a target number, and then they do they try to do up and down you know within 20 points of that. So if your target number in your pump is 80, move it to 120 for the night. If your target range is 120 to 180 for the night for one night, talk to your endo before you do any of this, please tell them the crazy lady on the internet mentioned doing it. But all kidding aside, I really think moving that target range up helps everybody sleep better for one night.
Now, what about that overnight? If you have remote monitoring, you might think well, that’s easy. I’ll just watch. I’ll stay up and watch the numbers all night long. You can do that. Or you can kind of figure out in your head, When am I going to call, right? When am I going to really decide that I need to intervene. And again, this is personal. Certainly, for low blood sugars. You got to make a plan. And what we did even before CGM is I would always send low stuff now you gotta send it along. I never assume that somebody has it. Because even if their house is stocked and man, Benny has a friend and they keep a giant fridge of regular soda, all different flavors, like it’s their thing, but it’s all regular, it’s all full of sugar in the garage. And you know, you might think, well, he’s all set. But you know, your kid may not want to go out of the room in which they’re all sleeping or spending the night to go by themselves to the kitchen and the fridge. It’s a strange house. They don’t want to wake people up. You know, a lot of kids get on comfortable, they want to be polite, they don’t understand that the parents are there to help them, you know, so you don’t want your kid running around somebody’s house low. So I sent everything I want him to eat or drink. If you have particular snacks that you use when their kids low that you know work, send them along.
And what we always did was send Benny with a Gatorade, one of those medium sized bottles, it’s a lot more carbs than I’d give for a regular overnight low. I think a bottle has 30 or 35 carbs in it, where we usually give like 10 right, but it’s easy. So our rule on sleepers is if you wake up and feel wonky, drink the Gatorade, drink it first drink at all, and then check. So when he was younger, he would drink first and then check by poking his finger. As he got a little older, he would check and look at the receiver. Now we can wake up and look at his phone these days. He really does look before he drinks most of the time. But if he feels low, I don’t care what the CGM says, drink the Gatorade. And that has never been a problem. He’s never woken up and been high and then had the Gatorade you know what I mean? He’s never miscalculated. It’s always been, I’m low, I’m drinking, I’m good.
But what are you going to do about overnight lows, this is a time to sit down with your child or depending on age, make the plan, tell the child and tell the other parents, you know, if my child is below 80 for X amount of time, I’m going to call him or I’m going to call you and ask you to treat. If my child is below 60 for X amount of time, I’m going to call you, you know, things like that. I would make a plan in your head. Think about it, think about how you want to handle it, and then share it with the other parents. It’s tough, right? Because it’s that fine line of not wanting to scare people not wanting to have your child excluded in the future because it’s too much work. But it’s also a line of information. They need to know these things.
When he was very little, I would send glucagon I would talk about it. I would train my very close friends, just two or three people that he regularly spent time with and I would train them on the glucagon. You know, it’s funny, I stopped because I read a study that shows in the majority of cases, caregivers, even trained just messed it up. They didn’t use it right, because they were under so much stress. So I always threw it in his bag. But I never trained anybody again, I would include icing, you know, and I had cut the tip off, because I was always afraid that he’d be low. And you know, they have that stupid cap, and then you open it in, you have to cut it or you’re biting it off. I didn’t want that happening in the middle of the night. So I would always cut the tip off. And I would talk to them about that, rub a little icing on his guns. But I would also always say, look, it’s been X amount of time and we’ve never had to use it. Right. It’s been eight years it’s been 10 years and knock wood, right? We’ve never had to use it. And I think that was reassuring as well.
But when you have a sleep over, you never expect an emergency. But when I was a kid, I had a sleep over and my friend cut her leg on the edge of I think it was the edge of my trundle bed. It was metal. I mean, this was back in the 70s and she could have deep enough that we had to go to the hospital and we had a babysitter. My parents weren’t even there that night and we had to go to the emergency room and she needed stitches. Crazy things happen on sleep overs. If you’re going to have a sleep over, you’re prepared to take care of the kid that’s there, whether they cut their leg deep enough to need stitches, or choke on a piece of food or having intense low blood sugar. And that’s how I usually phrase it because to us, that is how rare it is. That’s the chances of it happening or that rare in your case, if you’re if you’ve used glucagon several times, or your child does go low more often. These are things to think about as well and to talk about, and I’ll tell you what, with the newer emergency glucagon kits that are out now with Baqsimi and Gvoke this is definitely a game changer. Baqsimi is the nasal spray Gvoke is the already mixed ready to use kind of like an EpiPen. I think you’ve got a much better chance of caregivers using that accurately. I would send that along for sure. And tell them how to use it especially if you can say hey, it’s like an EpiPen. Everybody knows what an EpiPen is. And I think that gives people a lot of peace of mind.
We also did test run Now if it’s a new family, I really like to do this. We would have like a dinner, play date dinner hang out. And I don’t know about you, I don’t let my kids sleep at strange houses Anyway, you know, where I don’t know the people. So this should be pretty easy. So if he gets an invitation, or you think he’s getting to be good friends with somebody, and they’re talking about future sleepovers, we always did this. So he’d go to that house for dinner. And he’d stay till when he’s little like nine o’clock. And that was a good test run for sleep overs because they could eat, they could hang out, they could see what was going on. And I also made the parents promise to call me with any questions, any questions, no matter how dumb and I would tell them, Look, I’m only going to sleep tonight. If I know that you will call me if I think there’s a chance that you won’t call me with questions. I will not sleep. So do us all a favor and promise to call me and that usually worked and a little bit of humor.
And you know, I don’t know why that just reminded me but kind of speaking of humor, did anybody use the share cradle? So if you’re not familiar, remote monitoring with Dexcom Share has only been around officially for about four, maybe four and a half years at this point. And I know it seems like it’s been around forever, but it has not. And the first iteration of it was this Share cradle. So you would take the receiver, the Dexcom receiver, and you’d slip it into this. It was a cradle it was a little case. And I’ll post a picture on it in the Facebook group and show you and you could get the signal then to your cell phone. It was amazing, but it wasn’t portable. Well it wasn’t supposed to be portable, but people plugged it into a battery pack and threw it in the backpack and took it with them wherever they went. And that was the first official Dexcom portable Share. I mean, not to mention night scout and all the things that that came through the Do It Yourself community. But we had that cradle, and I took it to one exactly one sleep over because it was such a pain in the ass to bring it to find a place where it would pick up the signal where there was Wi Fi. I don’t remember what happened. There was a phone issue. And I promise you that night Benny was at a sleep over at Logan’s house. And I was gone for 20 minutes. And my friend Karen called me and said, Benny, he says his Dexcom came out. I was like, You know what, spent half an hour sitting the damn thing up in your house. Forget it, just forget the whole thing. Don’t worry about it. Tell me not to worry about it. And so I never actually used to the Share cradle at any sleep over.
So fast forward to my 15 year old, who spends the night often at one person’s house. Now he’s got a really close friend. And that’s really the only place where he’s sleeping over. But he does do overnight trips with school, that sort of thing at the wrestling team, as I mentioned. So now, we just check in before bedtime, really around 10 o’clock, and I say “you good” and that “you good “means is your insulin pump charged? Is there insulin in the pump. Did you do your Tresiba? because he takes long acting along with the pump. And it also means do you have your Gatorade? Now, I know that sounds like a lot in the secret code, but we talk about it I sit down with Benny and I say, What do you need? How can we keep you safe and happy and me happy and not flipping out and not texting every 20 minutes. And that’s what we came up with recently. 15 is a lot different than seven in many, many ways. So I wouldn’t encourage you to start out that way if you’re just starting sleep overs. But also keep in mind, it is hard to believe that in the next year, Tandem and Omni pod are going to be showing that kind of information that I mentioned like is the insulin pump charged it was their insulin in it, it’s going to be shown on the remote app. And even though tandems phone app isn’t launching with any kind of share remote monitoring feature, my understanding is that you can log into the T Connect account and you can see what’s up. So we’ll be testing that out in the weeks after we get control IQ.
I think the bottom line with sleep overs is they are a fun way to start your kid thinking about independence. They are truly not the time to worry about a super tight blood sugar range. There’s going to be weird food, there’s going to be weird activity. The idea here is to not let diabetes truly get in the way. Is it there? Yes. Is it going to be very difficult the first couple times, of course, but you can make a plan. You can talk to your kid, you can talk to the other parents and you can find ways to make it fun and make it doable for everybody.
One more thing before I let you go, do not misunderstand my attitude. I worry. Every single time that kid goes on an overnight. I worried when he was young. I worry now, I know I’m going to worry when he’s older. But the idea here is Look, you’re gonna worry you’re a parent, but let them do it. You can’t let your fear stop your child.
Agree? Disagree? Keep in mind I am the World’s Worst Diabetes Mom. I would love to hear from you. What do you thinking of these minisodes? Do you have any questions you have any topics you’d like me to address? You can drop them in the Facebook group at diabetes connections the group or ping me Stacey at diabetes dash connections calm and remember the world’s worst diabetes mom is available on Amazon in Kindle paperback and audiobook. Find out more at the website, our regular full length episodes here every Tuesday. I’m Stacey Simms, and until then, be kind to yourself.