Diabetes Jeopardy!

Sometimes I wonder if anyone in my house can remember a time when diabetes wasn’t always on our minds.

I can’t, not really.

It’s become part of our normal, the routine, something like washing your hands before you eat dinner or  the fact that there’s homework on school days. You don’t think too much about it — it’s just there. Most days, anyway.

Some days, it’s all we talk about or think about. Maybe because Mitzi’s very high or very low or is sick or has a lot of sports or she’s rebelling in her preteen way about all the stuff in her life and diabetes management is just another boundary to push.

Yesterday, we all had diabetes on the mind because of MCAS, the state-wide mandated standardized tests given twice a year. Mitzi had her first round yesterday, so, starting the night before, we prepared. Not for the academics, though — we prepared for the blood sugars.

MCAS is a unique annoyance for Mitzi (even more than it usually is for every other child or adult who has to suffer the ridiculous things). If her blood sugar is too high, she can’t start the test when the other kids do — and can’t even start until it’s normal. And if it doesn’t normalize in enough time that she can take the test on that particular day, she has to make it up, missing class. If it happens on test day number two — well, more makeups, more missed class. Avoiding that scenario was in all of our best interests.

Blood sugar was on my mind when I woke up. What would it be? How early should I wake her up to test and find out? A low-carb breakfast was on the menu (scrambled eggs, while the other kids got pancakes). Would it be okay?

Luckily, it was. Normal at breakfast, even lower throughout the day. We discussed it at dinner, praising Mitzi for managing herself so well all day, and slipped into a general discussion about diabetes. Mitzi tossed questions at her siblings: If I pass out, what do you do? (Call 911, tell them you’re diabetic! Cooper even chimed in, “Get that diabetic epi-pen thingie with the glucawhatever!”) Is 150 a good blood sugar? (Yes!)

Joanna knows her diabetes stuff!

Joanna knows her diabetes stuff!

This led to the idea of Diabetes Jeopardy! After we finished eating, the younger three headed for their showers and Mitzi grabbed a bunch of index cards. She made categories and questions and assigned monetary values. When everyone was ready, they played. I watched from the dining room, struggling with something on the computer I was doing for Ray.

It was adorable. And impressive. A $400 question: What do I need if my number is high? All the kids were quick, but Joanna’s “BUZZ!!!!” was the fastest. “MORE INSULIN!!!!!” she shouted, jumping up and down.

Three years ago it made me sad that my small children had to know all of this. That a three and four year old had to recognize their big sister’s physical symptoms of highs and lows and know how to tell Mommy and Daddy about it.

Now it just makes me proud.

Mitzi finds it terribly annoying, the way one of her siblings will ask her if she’s bolused for the apple she’s eating, or the way that they might find me to see if it’s okay that she’s having a snack. The way everyone at various times asks her where her kit is, if she tested yet, and what the number was. Mitzi is eleven, and everything about her parents and siblings is annoying. But especially when they butt into her diabetes business.

But last night. Ah, last night, it was okay, and for the first time ever, diabetes was kind of fun.


13 thoughts on “Diabetes Jeopardy!

  1. Wow, I didn’t know much about diabetes and no idea how much work goes into working with and around it. Kudos to you for finding a way to help Mitzi deal with and for Mitzi handling everything as well as she does!

  2. Whoa that gave me goosebumps and a little lump in my throat. Diabetes is never a part of our conversation though I am in hospital as I write as my daughter had her tonsils out yesterday and there was a little diabetes drama with the 12 year old in the next bed. They demanded to move to another hospital because his injuries meant he couldn’t administer and the nurses let him down. Maybe he was too shy to ask. His parents spoke Russian. Anyway you could be onto something with that game. Wil you contact the Diabetes Association or something?

  3. Oh, Joy! I hope everything is going well with your daughter! That’s so sad about the child with diabetes. I hope the hospital steps it up and works with them to help. Oh, Mitzi would love to share her game with the world! 🙂

    • Definitely worth trying to get the game out there! I bet if Mitzi wrote the email herself to send to different organizations it would be well received. And/or get your local paper do a little story on her game and attempts to help educate the community on diabetes.

  4. You most definitely should be proud. I can’t say I found out insulin at any age near what your daughter looks like.

    It might be paradoxical to say, but nothing brings people closer than a similar enemy right?

  5. Wow, what a neat idea. This should be a game for all the family to play. You could turn this into another Hasbro game. Trademark it and make a fortune.

    • Ha, my kids love to read labels. Usually, it doesn’t change whether they eat it or not, but every once in a while, one will look up with a mix of horror and confusion. “What is THAT? Is that a real thing?” But this does not stop them from consuming bright blue Slurpees whenever someone offers…. 😉

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