Sunday, August 28, 2011

When fatigue sets in...

What do you do when you are soooooooo tired?

Many parents of kids with T1D do regular overnight BGL testing, myself included. We get used to the lack of sleep and disrupted sleep patterns are just a fact of life. Most of the parents I know in the T1D community have permanent bags under their eyes, myself included.

But every now and then it takes it's toll and you find that you are completely exhausted.

Like just about every parent on the planet well all put our kids first, but most parents don't get up in the middle of the night to check on their kids.

It's a well known fact that disrupted sleep and not enough sleep can increase the risk of serious health problems such as cancer and heart disease. It can also lead to obesity and Type 2 diabetes.

According to Eve Van Couter of the University of Chicago, "Lack of sleep disrupts every physiologic function of the body. We have nothing in our biology that allows us to adapt to this behaviour." ("Scientists Finding Out What Losing Sleep Does to a Body" - Rob Stein, Washington Post, Sunday 9 October 2005).

This is a serious concern for parents of T1D kids - how can we look after our kids if we are putting our own health at risk?

For 2 parent families it is very important for BOTH parents to share the load when it comes to the care of your child with T1D. Perhaps work out a roster for doing nocturnal BGL tests. I know of some families that do week on/week off so that each parent is able to catch up on sleep regularly. This has the added benefit of ensuring that both parents have an equal understanding of the complexity of this disease, particularly when BGL's play up overnight and in the early hours of the morning.

But what if, like me, you're a single parent?

Many of us don't have a big family support network, many don't have family around at all and, for those that do, we often find that trying to get extended family members to understand what is involved in the care of our kids is an uphill battle.

I guess the lesson from this is that we all need to make sure that we have some kind of support network, whether it's a partner, a close family member or a trusted family friend. We all need to realise that we can't do it all ourselves and that it's okay to ask for help.

Now, if I could just listen to my own advice....

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