Dad of T1 Kids? Sleep is for the Weak.


It’s rare for a dad with 4 kids to get a full night’s sleep. A night’s rest gets even more dicey given the fact that two of my girls have T1 diabetes. My wife and I are the rare couple that goes to bed with two CGMs within reach, as both my girls use the OmniPod insulin pump and the Dexcom G4 CGM. Since their diagnosis, my wife and I have taken turns when the CGM alarm rings, but she’s been busy being pregnant this year, and recovering from said pregnancy, so I’ve been the go-to guy when diabetes night duty calls.

Let me walk you through a recent night: I got to bed a little after midnight. Just as I was hitting a good patch of REM sleep, the Dexcom CGM goes off for one of my girls at 1:48 a.m. It was a low, and this one scared me: an 85 with the arrow pointing down. I must have slept through the first vibration alarm, and probably a few alarm bells. I raced upstairs with CGM in tow.

I checked my daughter’s low and she was in the 90’s, and of course, she was sleeping right through it. Good for her, but my heart jumps whenever I come into the room and see her motionless. The CGM arrow changed to steady. Perplexed, I groggily mulled my options: give her juice and watch her CGM skyrocket, try to get her to chew a couple of glucose tabs down and listen to her gag. We were out of gel. Being that she was level, I went with my go-to move of lowering her basal rate temporarily, since her BG seemed to have stabilized.

By this time, it was after 2. I tried to go back to sleep, but the adrenaline pulsing through my body made it difficult. I think I must have drifted off between 4:00 and 4:30. Then I was awoken to the pleasant sound of the CGM alarm again; same girl. This time, it read 55 with the arrow tilting downward. I guess juice would have been the right call. I raced back upstairs with meter and juice in tow. The juice fixed her low for good, but my sleep was done for the night. Back in bed I stared at the window blinds until 5 a.m., when I got up to go to my group bible study.

I moved through the day like a zombie. By now, people are used to this being a semi-normal state of being for me and they tend to talk slow and not make any sudden movements when they see I’ve had a rough night. On these kinds of sleep-deprived days, I love seeing parents post on Facebook about how they’ve been up all night with a sick kid. D-parents know the feeling; they call it Tuesday night.

After a night like that, making it through a sleep-deprived day is a victory. It’s made all the more sweet when I come home and see my wife is rested and my children are healthy. I pour myself another cup of coffee to get ready for the next night’s sleep.

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