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Monthly Archives: October 2011

“Should I Stay or Should I Go?” Field trips, freedom and fear

It is amazing what runs through your head when you learn your child has T1DM….most of it is a blur for me now, but I was hit with the fact that KC would be facing an overnight (3 nights in fact) field trip about 8 months after her DX. This trip is considered the highlight of 6th grade; KC and her classmates have been looking forward to it for years! My initial thoughts were 1. of course, I’ll chaperone and 2. ugh, I hate sleeping on those nasty, vinyl-covered mattresses. My brain then let go of that topic and moved on to more pressing problems.

At KC’s 3 month endo appointment, her doctor said she could go on the pump as soon as insurance allowed. She was approved within a week, but we chose to delay her pump start 2 months until the last week of school so she could have time to get used to the change. The overnight field trip loomed in the background—as part of preparing 5th graders for the fall trip, her school arranges a one day trip to the camp in the prior spring. This was KC’s first field trip as a T1 and I went along. I was impressed with the camp staff and with KC’s teachers, who have done this trip so many times. I still dreaded the thought of sleeping on the vinyl mattresses! I knew that KC would have her pump and CGM by the time the overnight rolled around which would provide her with more control of her T1.

As summer went by, we learned more about the pump and how to use it. KC was loving it and I was loving the CGM!

Shortly before school started, we received bad news–my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. This is her fifth cancer and second type of breast cancer. Her mastectomy was scheduled less than a week before KC’s trip. In addition, my husband had a business trip that could not be moved at the same time as the trip. So I assessed the situation:
1. my mother recovering from surgery and not able to drive
2. my father is no longer allowed to drive
3. husband out of town
4. #1 son cannot be left alone overnight
5. KC’s field trip

I contacted KC’s teachers and told them the situation. “No problem, we can handle KC.” Two of the chaperones were doctors; one of the teachers is KC’s lead member of her in-school T1 management team. I knew what I had to do…I had to let her go without me.

So I did what I could.

Which is organize…and over organize! I created a binder with every instruction needed. I put laminated cards with high/low treatments and contact info on every bag KC took with her. We filled one backpack as the emergency bag: backup pump supplies, sick day supplies, manuals for pump and CGM. I gave her primary chaperone a Novolog flexpen and glucagon pen to carry during the day. Extra Novolog and Lantus were kept in the cabin fridge as was a case of water, two cases of diet soda, string cheese and yogurt. Each chaperone was given glucose tabs to keep with them. KC’s suitcase had each day’s hiking snacks divided into zippered plastic bags–treats for both highs and lows. We also sent a separate meter/test strips with carb counting book to be kept in the dining hall. She ended up taking a suitcase, two backpacks, additional snacks to share, 3 cases of drinks, her Spi-belt, sleeping bag etc. Whew!

Our school has parent chaperones drive for many field trips, so I drove KC and 2 classmates to the camp. I was able to make sure everything was put away where she could find it. I also learned that the cabin had a land-line phone and that ambulance service could be there in 10 minutes. I knew that KC was in the best possible situation for her first overnight without me. After about an hour, I left. Her teachers and I decided that the best thing was not to plan on phone calls unless absolutely necessary. It would be more stressful to be waiting for an expected call that might be late due to a change in the campers’ schedule etc. I had to trust. Now I know not everyone thinks a parent should put that much faith or even burden on someone who isn’t the child’s family….but our school is special. I couldn’t have done this if KC were at a different school—I know because I’ve been in other schools. Our teachers treat us like family—they love our kids as their own. I didn’t have to jump through IEP/IHP 504 hoops when KC was dx’d. The teachers, principal, and staff said “what do you need us to do?” And these are the people I trust her with 8 hours of the day. As much as I worried about the burden of caring for her 24 hours a day, I knew her teachers were not thinking of it as a burden.

So how did it turn out, you may ask? One phone call home on the last morning—her CGM reached it’s 3 day point and she wanted to know if she should change it. I told her just take it off and don’t worry about it. I asked how she’d been. “Great!” was the reply–her only problem occurred the night before when she over-bolused a s’more and she had a low. Fortunately, her best friend (and self-appointed Nurse Assistant Person or NAP) got the teacher and the low was treated.

She was exhausted and hyper at the same time when I saw her that afternoon. Memories had been made! She had 4 days and three nights of being like everyone else…or as close to normal as life gets for a T1.

We uploaded her CGM/pump data and it turns out she had the best BG numbers during that time! Except for the one low, her numbers were perfect the entire time. The emergency bag was never opened; almost all snacks and drinks came back home.

We did it! KC got to be the independent young lady she always has been. Her teachers got to experience living with a T1. And I had to…..let go.