by Karyn Michelle Wofford
It’s summer time, kids want to go places with their friends, or maybe they want to go to camp. Every summer, when I was a kid, was partially spent at cheerleading or basketball camp. It can be scary sending your little diabetic off to care for themselves, or trusting another parent with their condition. The best thing you can do is be prepared.
Your child is learning with you, every insulin shot, every blood sugar check, they are watching. Take the time to walk them through everything as you do it, even if they seem a little young. Accumulative learning is less overwhelming and they will be prepared when the time comes to be away from home.
Take time to meet with the person that will be your child’s chaperon, whether it be a parent, coach or camp counselor. Go over everything with them, especially emergency measures, like how to prep and inject a glucagon shot. Explain warning signs of high and low blood sugar and urge importance of the diabetic schedule.
You’ll want to be sure it’s okay with your child, but having a diabetes education sleepover with their friends is a great way to provide extra protection. Some of my best guardians as a type 1 kid were my friends. Sometimes they would notice if I was acting a little off, and could run to grab me some juice.
Help them pack their bags to be completely sure everything is there. Include several copies of detailed instructions for every medication. Your kid may need to reference them and can also hand out copies to adults.
Pack plenty of snacks. When I would spend the night with friends or attend camp, people would sometimes forget how important it is for me to eat regularly. It’s easy to get caught up in all of the fun and just decide to skip out on lunch. Then you may have a hypoglycemia crisis on your hands. Toss in trail mixes, low sugar granola bars, juice and travel size peanut butter.
Plan check in times daily. Go over blood sugar numbers and discuss any concerns. Talk with the adults too. Keeping the communication lines open prevents problems. Even if your child is young, consider trusting them with a cell phone when gone so they always have a way to reach you.
Be ready to go get them if you have to. Now I’m not saying to hit the highway if a little homesickness sets in, but if they are ill or struggling to manage things, you need to be prepared to jump in the car or on a plan to be by their side. I never needed to have my mom come get me from an overnight trip after I was diagnosed, but it kept both of us at ease knowing the option was there.
Have your endocrinologist do a quick check up before sending them off. They can evaluate for any developing infections or other problems, preventing mayhem. Even now, I go for a doctor’s visit before taking a trip. I’ve had some insane experiences that I had to learn the hard way from!
You should definitely be completely open to letting your young diabetic spread their wings. It’s a great growing experience to take trips with responsible individuals. It’s better they learn at a snail’s pace than to jump straight into the crazy college life, which could be potentially dangerous. Well planned time away from home builds strength and responsibility that will help shape healthier diabetics.