Sleep timeĀ 

I’m sure all parents of kids with Type 1 diabetes have weird sleep patterns. When did you last have a night of pure, deep, dreamless sleep? Do you remember nights before diabetes entered your life? My memories are fading fast.

Like most parents of kids with Type 1 diabetes, we were doing regular middle of the night blood glocose checks, at least twice a night, for the first few weeks after diagnosis. Thankfully for us this period coincided with the Christmas holidays and we stumbled though the celebrations, glassy eyed and sleep deprived like the parents of a new born: except we were middle aged and totally knackered.

We then cut back to 3am checks and now we check at 3am once a week unless BGLs are below 6 at bedtime or we have changed insulin doses.

This should, in theory, simplify life but my sleep patterns are pretty crappy now. My head hits the pillow and just as I’m about to enter the deeper part of my sleep, something totally crazy happens. I’m asleep but my body jerks awake, I often sit bolt upright and I start an internal interrogation. ‘Have I done everything?’, ‘Is there something wrong?’, ‘Is it me?’ and then I come fully awake and go through a quick checklist. ‘Was Levemir done?’, ‘Was the level under 6?’, ‘Have I set my alarm if I needed to?’ Once I’ve gone through this list, I’m supposed to be at one with the world and drift off…… NO BLOODY CHANCE!

It’s the same with the 3am checks! I’m not good at it! My son would happily tell you! My husband is much better at doing the tests than me. I’m lucky as he does more than his share of night time tests. I don’t know how to get it right. I’ve tried so many different ways. Which light source should I use to find his finger and do the blood test? I bought a head torch, congratulating myself on this idea. The look on my poor son’s face as I sat on the edge of his bed reminded me of my favourite BBC drama show, when they bring in the prime suspect for interrogation. That great idea was quickly abandonned.

I then moved on to using the torch on my phone. But how do you hold it whilst getting a hand out from under the pillow and using the finger pricker? I can tell you that holding it in your mouth is not the solution. You end up with your head tilted back at a 45 degree angle which then makes it impossible to see what you are doing? Try sticking your bottom jaw out further than the top one whilst keeping the phone clamped between your teeth. This works for about 15 seconds before a strong cramp will set in causing you to yelp in pain, thus dropping the phone on the floor and waking your sleeping child.

‘Sleeping child’ conjures up a beautiful image of a little cherub, neatly tucked into bed, curled up in a little ball, smelling of shampoo and that lovely baby smell! My sleeping child is a sprawling teenager, tangled in sheets and blankets, ready to do battle with anyone who dares awake his wrath!

I’ve now got a bendable study light on the bedside table. I put it on, angling it away from the bed but leaving just enough light to see what I’m doing. This works well enough if I’m able to jab the side of the finger and not accidently poke it into the soft middle part which fails to produce the juicy little red bead and means we have to start over.

All done? Sure, now back to bed. Sleep? You are joking! I’m fully awake and ready to go. 

Then there are the nights when you wake up at 3am and you don’t need to test. I read about someone who would wake instinctively when their child was having a hypo in the middle of the night. I lie awake worrying that maybe I should get up, that I too share this deep maternal instinct that knows when something is wrong. I lie there and do nothing. I don’t get up. I don’t want the burden of a ‘gift’ like that and I hope I’m wrong.

I wake up in the morning. I stand at his bedroom door and watch, waiting to see the rise and fall of his chest.