Fun with diabetes
At Christmas time, all of the things kids normally do that affect their blood sugars – eating, exercise, getting excited – are totally different from normal. They eat excessively, and the food is often loaded with sugar and fat. Rather than running around outside, they tend to lounge around watching telly or playing video games. Having said that, they might suddenly decide to play something ludicrously vigorous on the Nintendo Wii. As for excitement, they’re chock-full of it.
This year, Joe and Tom woke up around 4am and kept going at full tilt right through to the evening. All of this plays havoc with their blood sugars. As a parent, the game is to use your skill and judgement to try and keep their BGs between 4 and 7 mmol/L in spite of all the Christmassy chaos that’s trying to take them high or low. Consequences is not just a game for Christmas – you can also play it on birthdays, Hallowe’en or Easter. Talking of which, when Tom was a toddler he wandered through to the kitchen before breakfast on Easter Sunday, clutching half a chocolate bunny in his tiny hand, his face liberally daubed with melted chocolate. ‘How much of it did you eat?’ asked Jacqui. ‘The head and neck!’ he replied.
This one’s a bit like Cluedo, only instead of working out who killed Dr Black, which weapon they used, and where they did it, you have to work out why their blood sugars are suddenly down to 2.1. Was it a wrongly carb counted meal in the kitchen? Was it an over-enthusiastic game of Wii Sports in the lounge? Or was it a nasty bug they’ve picked up in the school library?
We have two children with type 1 diabetes, so we do a thing we call ‘diabetes snap’. When their blood glucose monitors both give exactly the same reading, Joe and Tom shout, ‘Snap!’ We even used to give them a little treat to celebrate. The problem with this is that there are no health benefits to having both the kids on exactly the same level. They can get snap if they’re both low (say, 3.2) or both high (say 14.7). In either case, nobody wins.
The diabetes news reporting drinking game
When the news is on, pour yourself something strong and alcoholic as soon as they start reporting an obesity epidemic, unhealthy eating, or a new study that says that people don’t take enough exercise. Take a big drink when they mention diabetes – which they inevitably will. Make it a double if they don’t distinguish between type 1 and type 2 diabetes – which they inevitably won’t. Such reporting means that other parents will think your kids only have diabetes because they’ve eaten unhealthily and they never do any exercise, but don’t worry – you’ll be too drunk to care.