Nothing about T1D is ideal, and so many things about the disease are extremely heartbreaking for any parent whose child has the disease. There are certainly worse diseases and complications to have, but T1D has its share of requirements that nobody should have to deal with. When Emerson was first diagnosed we were very unfamiliar with the disease and so all of our early thoughts and concerns were based on things we had heard years ago. We feared that Emerson’s life as we knew it was over forever – that she wouldn’t be able to be as active as she had been to that point, that she wouldn’t be able to eat any of the things that all kids love, and that she would experience some tough times growing up when others made her feel less than special. However, we quickly found that the treatment and management of the disease has changed a lot in just the last decade and that our initial concerns were far from reality.
Upon coming home from the hospital we quickly became comfortable with most of the steps required to manage T1D. But there were two things we never enjoyed – giving insulin injections and performing finger pricks. We quickly learned that insulin pumps allow for the virtual elimination, or significant reduction, of injections and looked forward to the day when we would be able to get Emerson on one – which we have since done. So now instead of multiple injections each day we do a single cannula insertion once every three days when things go as planned. But as we all know, finger sticks are something that can’t be avoided if we want consistently accurate glucose readings – and since Emerson does not have a continuous glucose monitor, she gets pricked numerous times a day. But the need for them does not make it easier to get used to. We often look at Emerson’s fingers and are amazed at how they look after only a year with T1D. She has already developed calluses on some fingers. We could understand if we routinely used the same finger and location. But for the first several months we actually documented where sticks were performed to ensure we were using all fingers and locations around the tip. We just can’t fathom the long-term impacts of this. Thanks to the work of some folks at Brown University we may not have to find out what those impacts are. As outlined in a recent press release (read Brown University press release here), they have made progress towards potentially eliminating the finger sticks by developing a device that can measure glucose in saliva. We pray that these folks continue to make great progress on this and that it becomes reality sooner rather than later. It would be a significant improvement to the efficacy of those with T1D and those that participate in the management of the disease.