How my kids are “hypo aware”

blur-bowl-candies-557665It’s #HypoAwarenessWeek and it’s got me thinking about how my kids have become hypo aware having a mum with Type 1 Diabetes.

Up until quite recently, hypos weren’t much of a feature in our house. I had a few years of feeling burnt out about my diabetes and my lack of attention meant my blood sugars were running higher than they are now and hypos were quite rare.  When hypos were only happening once or twice a month, I wasn’t that vigilant about keeping hypo supplies with me.  One of the downsides of being more focused on my blood sugars has been a significant increase in the number of hypos I’ve been having, or close to having, so I am now much better at being prepared with hypo treatments (although not perfect!).

What my kids have seen as a result of this is bags of sweets “for mummy’s blood sugar” being in the house.  As I’ve become more open about my diabetes at home and in life in general this year, my kids have learned a lot about hypos. Here’s four ways they are hypo aware:

1. Mum feels funny when she has low blood sugar

I have pretty standard hypo symptoms most of the time (occasionally no symptoms) – shaking, tingly lips, tiredness, the usual stuff.  I also get grumpy and irritable. I’m afraid to say that my usually calm and relaxed self becomes snappy and impatient and if I’m hypo around the kids they are sometimes on the receiving end of a less nice mum.  I always tell them “I’ve got low sugar, sorry it makes me grumpy” or something along those lines and I always apologise afterwards if I’ve been short with them.  They know it’s a passing thing that makes me feel strange and once I get some sweets into me it makes me feel better, they are really good at just rolling with it.

2. We can’t just help ourselves to Mum’s sweets

My kids are 6 and 8 and like a lot of kids their age they get quite excited by the prospect of sweets, but with me in the house they also know that sweets aren’t just fun “treats”, they are also important for treating Mum’s low blood sugar.  It does melt my heart a bit when my 6 year old son comes home from a party and offers us sweets from his party bag – when he offers one to me he says “Mum, you can have this for your blood sugar.”     They know I don’t eat my hypo sweets as a “treat” and they can’t help themselves to them without asking me, but when they do ask (and I’ve got enough to share), I let them have one.

3. Sometimes we have to stop what we’re doing till Mum feels better

Hypos sometimes happen when we’re out and about.  Like when we’re out walking the dog together.  Once this summer we were out walking in the countryside and I felt a hypo come on quickly and I told the kids we just had to stop.  Thankfully I wasn’t in a bad mood that time and the kids found it quite funny that we all just sat on the floor so we could all eat our snacks and wait till I felt better.  I’m so grateful to them for being so easygoing and accepting in situations like this.

4. If Mum gets sick we know how to dial 999

I’m very fortunate to have (so far) never needed medical assistance with a hypo, but I have made sure that the kids know that if me or my husband ever have an accident at home or won’t wake up, they know how to dial 999 from the landline. They also know our address, how to ask for an ambulance, and to explain that their mum has Type 1 Diabetes.  I’ve explained all this in a matter of fact way, not to scare them into thinking something might happen, but to teach them something that’s important regardless, just in case.

It’s good to remember during #HypoAwarenessWeek that- while hypos are annoying for us – they affect our loved ones too.  Don’t even get me started on my husband’s patience for all the middle of the night hypos I’ve had over the years…

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