Off the Dial

Routine Halloween

This is the obligatory post where I tell you that my son can go trick or treating. He can eat any sort of candy and please don’t give him the sugar free stuff.

But this will be our sixth(!) Halloween since Benny’s diagnosis of type 1 diabetes and we’re so used to the routine it’s hardly worth talking about anymore. But… it’s always worth talking about. Because there are always new families with newly diagnosed kids.

Just this week I got an email from a mom with a child diagnosed this spring. She was thinking about offering to trade in her son’s candy for a new toy, or buying back the treats to get rid of them. We’ve done both (and they worked great). This mom felt a bit guilty about basically bribing her kids to give up their Halloween candy. I say bribe away.

Halloween is a kid’s dream. You run around the neighborhood at night and get candy! You don’t have to pass a test or clean your room to earn that Kit Kat or package of Nerds – you just have to put on a costume and ring the doorbell.  But if you don’t want your child to actually eat all that junk and a trade-in or reward makes it easier for them to give up their loot, go for it.  Life is already full of trade-offs, especially for kids with type 1 diabetes. At least this one can be fun.

These days, we let our children eat about 5 pieces of candy on Halloween and then put the rest away. They can have 2 pieces for dessert (on the nights we allow dessert) and Benny can have a piece if his blood sugar gets low. In about a week we’re done with the good stuff. The hard candy and black licorice just sits in the bowl until Thanksgiving when I finally clean up ’cause company’s coming.

(By the way, that company includes my family up in NY. Thinking about all those kids in the Northeast who didn’t have Halloween last year because of a freak snow storm and probably won’t this year because of Sandy)

Tonight, we’ll be loading up the insulin cartridge, doing some extra BG checks and counting candy carbs. Have fun and stay safe, whatever your Halloween routine:


Looking forward to a diabetes camp reunion at the ADA walk next month.  We’ve got our own team of walkers and the ADA is giving away a free week of camp to one lucky family.  Benny had a great experience his first time at camp this summer – this week our local CBS affiliate interviewed us about it.

Benny was excited but nervous – he’s been on TV before but last time he was so little he doesn’t remember. The crew met us at a nearby playground (great day, but lots of sunlight in my pics).


I never know what Benny’s going to say (he’s 7!) so when the reporter starting asking questions I held my breath. But Benny rocked it! He explained the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes (“with type 1 your pancreas doesn’t work at all. With type 2 your pancreas still makes insulin but your body doesn’t know how to use it very well anymore.”)

He checked his blood sugar for the camera (high, of course, ugh), then took out his pump, showed how it worked and explained, “It’s like a mechanical pancreas.” So proud of him.

Of course, he also told the reporter he was diagnosed at 23 months but we didn’t tell him until he was six (!) and that he checks his blood sugar only 3 times a day (more like 8-10).

My daughter and husband came too, but both were reluctant to appear on camera. We did get Lea to play with Benny for a few minutes so at least she’ll be in the piece!

Big thanks to WBTV photographer Corey Schmidt and reporter Astrid Martinez:

I’m excited to get some publicity for Charlotte’s American Diabetes Association. This is Lauren, who’s working hard for this event (and many others).


Our sister station, WLNK, is the media sponsor and the wonderful Ramona Holloway will MC.  Ramona’s had an incredible health experience this year, losing almost 70 pounds! (you can read more about her here).

Not sure when WBTV’s story on us will air, but the ADA Walk is November 3rd.  Love to have you join us!


The little things make me happy.

We replace the cartridge in Benny's insulin pump about every three days.  It's always a balance between using up as much insulin as possible and making sure it doesn't empty while Benny's at school or sleeping. I hate the waste, but I can't take a chance he'll tap out.

We usually make it under ten units just before a cartridge change, but I love seeing a big old zero on this screen. This from last night:


Novolog: Good to the last drop!

(the subject of this post stolen from inspired by sixuntilme

No More Monitor

BabymonitorI took the baby monitor out of my son's room. He's 7. I know what you're thinking - that's way too soon.

No? Well, you probably don't have a child with type 1 diabetes.

One of our biggest fears is an overnight low blood sugar. Low BG (hypoglycemia) is dangerous at any time, but sleeping through it is something else altogether. If you're asleep, you can't correct; untreated hypoglycemia can cause serious damage to your body. It can cause seizures, coma, even death (I hate to write that).  

That's why so many parents check their child's blood sugar overnight, every night. We checked Benny at 11pm and 3:30am for probably 2-3 years before we gradually backed off. For us, it was a combination of getting more comfortable with diabetes and realizing that Benny wakes up when he's high or low. I understand many children sleep through, no matter their blood sugar, but that's not our experience. 

(In fact, right now we're going through one of those periods just before we adjust his insulin dose. He's waking up 1-2 times every night with his BG a bit high.  Maybe he's growing, maybe it's hormones, but whatever it is, I'm putting the under-eye concealer on just a bit thicker this week.)

This summer we realized it was time to unplug.  While I was sick all those weeks my mother came to stay with us. She kept the "mother unit" of the monitor in her room so Slade could get some rest. That was the theory, anyway. In reality, Benny just quietly walked into our room if he needed us (thanks for that 1am wakeup call, dude)! Not once did my mother hear a peep through her console.

I know some D-parents will read this and shake their heads or be fearful for us.  Yes, we've heard about the MySentry monitor (great writeup here from but we don't use a CGM with Benny. A continuous glucose monitor is something we'll look into when he's a bit older.  Right now, we're just not crazy about the idea of two insets (where an insulin pump or CGM connects to the body).

I used to joke that we'd keep the monitor in Benny's room until he went off to college. Some nights I still feel weird not seeing that little red light on in my room.  Our philosophy, though, is all about independence and teaching Benny the skills he'll need for life. This feels like a step in that direction.