JDRFStories“The best part is seeing my friends” – going to school with type 1 diabetes tech

“The best part is seeing my friends” – going to school with type 1 diabetes tech

Author: Sam and Daisy Barnes's story | Posted: 04 January 2022

Samantha Barnes with daughter Daisy, who lives with type 1 diabetes

Ten-year-old Daisy was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes when she was three years old. Her mum Sam shares how technology has helped Daisy gain independence at school and have fun with her siblings Harry (13), George (4) and Rosie (2).

“Before she was diagnosed, Daisy had been poorly for six months – nothing serious but constant illnesses. Through this she was drinking and weeing excessively. Eventually my husband and I took her to A&E. The doctor on call tested her straight away and told us immediately she had type 1 diabetes.

“Daisy and I stayed in the hospital for three days. It was a crash course in learning about diabetes, how to administer injections and prick her finger to test her blood glucose levels, and how we start to change our lives to manage her diabetes. Daisy started with four injections a day, one for each meal (she wasn’t allowed any snacks) and she had a long-acting insulin injection at bedtime. She had to prick her finger six to ten times a day to get her blood glucose levels.”

Life-changing tech

Daisy now uses a flash glucose sensor, which allows her to scan – or ‘flash’ – a sensor worn on her upper arm to get a glucose reading.

“Daisy has been using flash for over five years now, it was completely life changing when she started wearing it! Each sensor lasts two weeks, so no more making her fingers bleed every day to check her levels – just a quick swipe of a sensor on her arm. At school she would have to stop what she was doing, go wash her hands, sit down and prick her finger – now she does it while she’s working without having to think about it.

“It’s also made a massive difference at home. Daisy’s levels need to be six for us to know she will be ok overnight. Finger prick tests used to give us her current glucose level, but we would never know if that number was increasing, decreasing or staying the same – the flash monitor tells us that. Before Daisy wore the sensor, we would set an alarm for 2am to check she was still ok.”

A year ago, Daisy also started using an insulin pump to deliver insulin.

Sam says: “Daisy started wearing an insulin pump which cut out all injections (unless there is an emergency). The pump is changed every three days and will be on either her arm, leg or tummy. Since wearing the pump, it has meant Daisy can have snacks between meals or have an ice cream on a hot day without an extra injection.”

Daisy agrees that the technology has helped her to manage her diabetes. She says: “It definitely helps, it’s a lot easier. My fingers don’t hurt as much with having a sensor. And my teachers think it’s very clever.”

Starting school

“In term time our days are very structured – with four children to look after, we have a checklist everyday! Daisy carries all her medical supplies in what we call her special bag – we have to make sure that bag is fully stocked, her medical devices are charged and she has plenty of sweets for any hypos.

“When everyone is home the house returns to chaos! Everyone wants a snack, a playdate arranging or there is a request for money! We have an early dinner; with Daisy’s diabetes, all her food is weighed so we can count her carbohydrates. Once her carbohydrates are worked out, she will input the information into her Personal Diabetes Manager (PDM) for her insulin pump.

“Different daily activities affect Daisy and we have to really think about the next day and if anything is not the same (PE or swimming days, a party, a playdate, sports day etc) and make a plan for how to manage her diabetes. Packed lunches are made for the next day, with Daisy’s carbs worked out in advance.”

Daisy’s school has been supportive in helping Daisy to manage her type 1 diabetes away from home, in part due to their experience with other children with type 1.

Sam says: “Daisy’s experience of going to school in terms of having diabetes has been really good. The teaching staff understood type 1 and how to manage it and how to best care for Daisy. A few years ago, one of her teachers arranged for everyone at school to wear blue for World Diabetes Day and the assembly was all about diabetes.

“When Daisy was first diagnosed it felt like the end of the world, but diabetes doesn’t stop Daisy from doing anything, we just think of a way around things and how best to look after her.”

Even though managing diabetes is easier, it doesn’t make the lessons any better. Daisy says: “Maths is hard. English is my favourite subject, but the best part about school is seeing my friends.”

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