Co-parenting a child with type 1 diabetes and hope for a cure

By Nicole

On CNN this morning a 12-year old girl was interviewed who participated in a three-day artificial pancreas project at Mass General Hospital.
For her stay in the hospital, the device monitored her blood sugar every five minutes and administered the insulin needed to correct her number. The girl looked so bright and hopeful about what she had experienced. When Ryan is home from school I know he will love to watch it and he'll be excited about how long it might be until this will be available to him. Part of me is so excited for him to see it and the other part of me hates to get his hopes up not knowing how long it really will be until it's available to him.
This week Ryan has his appointment at Joslin Diabetes Clinic where he goes every couple of months for care. Pat and I both plan to go since this appointment is with his doctor (Dr. Mehta) who always has some excellent insights into Ryan's trends of highs and lows and who also is on top of the latest research ideas to someday find a cure for Type 1 Diabetes.
It is easy for me to empathize with Pat when he is taking care of Ryan and I know he feels the same when it is me. Whoever has Ryan at the time has a constant concern about his blood sugar and potential highs and lows. We both know that Ryan's care is continuous and if we put that in the back of our minds, even for a couple of hours, then  Ryan's numbers will most likely be off.  Ryan is 9 and not independent at all in managing his diabetes right now.
In the beginning, when Ryan was 5, if his numbers were high or low then Pat or I might have blamed each other for managing a situation poorly. But we never do that anymore. Now, 4 years later, we take care of him separately but we trust each other more than ever for support. We used to call Joslin a lot for advice but now we call each other when we need help. We trust that the other person does his or her best to estimate carbs, estimate activity and give Ryan the right amount of insulin. We also realize now that his blood sugar won't be perfect because even given specific ratios, the ever changing body of a boy is unpredictable. When Pat has Ryan it's the only time that I put him out of my mind. When I wake up on Wednesdays nights, I think to test Ryan and then remember that he is with Pat, and I can rest.
If Ryan were to have an artificial pancreas in the future, it would change his life! He wouldn't have to test his blood sugar 10-12 times/ day or worry about going high or low and all of the many negative effects that has on his body, his energy level, his mind and his mood. Although Pat and I care for him closely right now, he'll soon want more independence that will be difficult to give him.

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