Three Ways to Make Life Easier

Three great examples from Deidre’s story, Cassidy’s Journey With Diabetes.

Nine year old Cassidy with all the things she needs to take care of her diabetes.

1) Know when to let go. As a parent it’s hard to know when to let go, especially when your child has an illness or disability. I loved Deidre’s example of letting her daughter, Cassidy take control of her diabetes at a young age.  I asked Deidre if she encouraged Cassidy and this is what she said. “Cassidy, miss independent, wanted to learn how to change her pump. It was all her idea. I was very nervous at first and it took a few weeks for her to convince me to let her try. I find myself having a hard time not having complete control over her diabetes at all times. It is part of being a hover mom. All parents want their children to be safe but I am sure I take it too far with Cassidy. Well I guess not too far because I do let her out of my sight and let her live her life, so I could be a lot worse. It amazes me how responsible Cassidy is and how fast she learns things. She loves that she knows how to change her pump. It gives her some of the control back into her life, since she is living with diabetes she is going to make the best out of it. Learning how to take care of herself helps her deal with the everyday challenges.”

2) Find a support group. Deidre mention the LDS T1D parents group. I asked her about it and she said, “It’s a parents group I found on Facebook. It is a safe place to ask questions about type one diabetes and to share information you find to help others. It is also a good place to unwind because you know the parents there will understand what you are going through. It helps me remember that I am not the only parent who has a child living with diabetes. I would never have found out about the Genteel without this group.” We all need support and it is especially helpful when it comes from those who travel our same pathway.

3) Research ideas, tools and medication that can improve the quality of life. Another great example of this comes from Deidre, she said, “The Salter Scale has helped me out so much. I didn’t find out about it until a few months after Cassidy was diagnosed. I really wished someone had told me about it at the hospital. Learning how to carb count was very stressful. The scale I use is called the Salter Nutri-Weigh dietary computer scale 1450. It displays 11 nutritional values of your food. It took the guessing game away. If Cassidy wanted a banana I could throw it on the scale and it would let me know how many carbs were in that size banana. Even something as taking crust off of bread was stressful before the scale. I was worried how many carbs I was taking away from that slice of bread. With the scale I didn’t need to worry, if I took too much crust off, the scale would let me know how many carbs were in that slice. The scale was worth every penny and I took the scale with me everywhere I went till I got the hang of carb counting. I will take the scale out now to test myself. I want to make sure my portion sizes remain the same so it is good to test yourself every once in a while to make sure your one cup is still really one cup.”

Cassidy with her Genteel

I asked Deidre about the Genteel and Cassidy showed me how it remarkably works. This is what it says on the box. “Genteel’s exclusive customize contact tips reliably draw blood from a lance site so shallow it does not reach pain nerves. At the instant of activation, genteel vibrates the skin over the lance site, and uses a process so fast, nerves have no time to respond or process the sensation of pain. Blood is drawn in as little as 2-8 seconds without having to squeeze the lance site.” Sounds wonderful and Cassidy say’s it doesn’t hurt!

What helpful tips do you have which make your life better and easier?

Cassidy’s Journey with Diabetes

Written by, Deidre Pickering

Cassidy Pickering

Cassidy, 9 years old

Since writing Cassidy’s Story, June 1, 2014, she has grown so much.  She is determined to learn all about diabetes and how to take care of herself.  Diagnosed at age four with Type 1 diabetes, Cassidy started poking her own finger to do her blood testing at age six, which was a big jump in taking care of herself at such a young age. She has also learned how to change her own pump site by drawing insulin out of a vile, filling her pump with the correct amount of insulin, preparing a new site and removing the old pump.  I love that she is now able to do this.  It gives both of us more freedom so I don’t need to be the “hover” mom I tend to be.

Recently Cassidy was out with her grandpa at dinner, without me, when her pump failed. She called me, letting me know that her pump was not working and that grandpa wanted to bring her right home even though they had just ordered and had not received their food. He was so worried since he didn’t know how to change her pump. She handed the phone to her grandpa and I told him she could change it herself. He was nervous, a nine year old could not handle that much responsibility. I told him to give her a chance and let her try. A little later he called back and said, “She was able to change her pump right at the table with confidence and no help. It was amazing!”

Cassidy has also learned a lot about carbohydrate counting. Once a year she has a meeting with a diabetes educator who will help teach Cassidy and let her ask questions. The educator will test Cassidy with a picture of a meal to see if she can correctly count the carbohydrates. At her most recent meeting Cassidy was able to calculate the correct total for a sample meal. The educator was surprised and told us Cassidy was the first one to get the exact total.

Cassidy sees her diabetes doctor every four months for a checkup and to have her A1C level check. This test gives you a picture of your average blood glucose (blood sugar) control for the past three months. The results give us a good idea of how well her diabetes treatment plan is working. In some ways, the A1C test is like a baseball player’s season batting average; it tells you about a person’s overall success. Neither a single day’s blood test results nor a single game’s batting record gives the same big picture. This last checkup was great and we were able to get Cassidy’s A1C to the correct level. As a mom, I was so happy with the result because it lets me know that I am taking care of her the right way. The A1C test is a roller coaster, so every time I go in I have my fingers crossed the amount of insulin she is given is correct and that we have been giving her the right ratio of carbs to insulin. I told Cassidy being a “mean” mom has been paying off.

Not only do we need to get the right ratio with carbs to insulin, but we need to time her doses correctly too. She needs to wait at least 10 minutes before eating if her blood sugar is in the one hundred range and 20 minutes if her blood sugar is in the two hundred range. Waiting to eat is hard on Cassidy. It takes planning every meal and snack so we can test and start her insulin before eating. She can never just go get a snack at a moment’s notice.

Cassidy’s fingers are always sore. Recently we were able to find a way to help her avoid some of the pain from poking her fingers to test her blood sugar levels. On Facebook, we are members of the LDS T1D parent’s group. Through this group we were able to find a new lancing instrument for testing her blood. It is called Genteel and it delivers a painless blood draw. I was not sure if it would actually work or not, but Cassidy’s aunt Michelle bought it for her and now Cassidy uses it for every blood sugar test.  Cassidy says it is not 100% pain free, but it is much better than what we had been using.

I love that there have been many improvements for managing diabetes over the years and I still have hope that one day they will be able to find a cure. Life is better since the first year she was diagnosed with diabetes and I know it will only get better. I am so proud of Cassidy and her drive to be the healthiest diabetic she can be. She doesn’t let diabetes hold her back. She loves being active and playing on a junior jazz basketball team. She is still the strongest person I know and she is such an example to me.


 Thank you, Deidre for sharing Cassidy’s journey with us. She is such a brave, happy and smart girl. You’re a lucky and wonderful mom!

Cassidy’s Story

Written by, Deidre Pickering

Cassidy, a few days before her diagnois

Cassidy, 4 years old, a few days before her diagnose

Our sweet daughter, Cassidy was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes on Feb 17, 2010. I wish I would have known the warning signs for diabetes, but when your four year old gets sick it’s not the first thing that pops into your head. Cassidy is my oldest of three, so I thought she was going through a growth spurt, losing her baby weight and eating and drinking more. She seemed to lack energy all the time.  She had been potty-trained for a couple of years and had recently started having accidents wetting the bed at night.  The day I took her to the doctor I thought she was coming down with a cold or had strep throat. She was a very active child so when she didn’t get out of bed that morning I knew something was wrong, but thought some antibiotics would be the fix.

I made a doctor’s appointment and took her bothers Dylan (two years old) and Brody (three months old) to my mom’s house. When we got to the doctor’s office they did a strep test, which was negative, but I knew something was not right with her so I kept talking to the doctor. After telling him how she was thirsty all the time and never seemed to get enough to eat, the doctor suggested a urine test. While waiting for the results, which seemed like forever, Cassidy just slept in my lap.

I would have never guessed the results of the test in a million years. The doctor tried explaining what life would be like with diabetes and what the next step would be, but I was in complete shock. He sent us straight to Primary Children’s Hospital and he called them to let them know we were on our way. I called my husband John, but can’t remember our conversation because I was in a daze and so scared for Cassidy. She was already afraid of needles and blood. I couldn’t believe this was happening to her.

I remember lots of tests, tears and taking classes to learn how to take care of our daughter. It was very overwhelming to know that after we left the hospital, Cassidy’s health would be in our hands. We spent two nights in the hospital with Cassidy.  Most of the time was spent being educated on how to care for someone with diabetes. It added stress that only one parent could spend the night with her at the hospital. John was the obvious choice since I was nursing Brody. Leaving her there every night was the hardest thing to do, but knowing John was there for her brought me comfort.

Trying to explain to a four year old we needed to poke her finger (up to ten times a day) and after the poke she would need a shot before she could eat anything was heart-breaking. I still wish every day that I could trade spots with her.

The first year of her diagnosis was the hardest trial I have ever been through. Calculating Cassidy’s insulin dose was very complicated and the toughest part was learning how to carbohydrate count.  Every carb she ate had to be counted for in order to give her the correct amount of insulin. We learned quickly that serving sizes can be very tricky to calculate while making sure she’s eating healthy.  Unfortunately fruits and vegetables don’t come in a “standard” size. Preparing meals turned into a nightmare of math problems. I spent more time calculating carbs for a meal than actually cooking it.

We were instructed to give Cassidy her insulin before she eats so that her body has time to absorb the insulin before her food begins to digest.  The problem with that is it means she has to eat whatever we calculated the carbs for.  I remember the first birthday party she went to a few months after her hospital stay. She really wanted a piece of cake. I had thought the slice of cake was Cassidy-sized so I gave her a shot of insulin and she started eating. Half way through the cake she was full.  Now she had too much insulin and her blood glucose level would drop low if she didn’t finish the cake. I was standing there with other moms and said, “sorry sweetie you need to eat all of your cake.” I got some strange looks from the other moms. I must be the first mom who ever forced their child to eat all of their cake.

I was so scared.  Could a four year old tell if their blood sugar was getting too low or high? I was afraid to let her out of my sight because she might drop so low that she would pass out and start to seizure.  We had to test her blood in the middle of the night to make sure her levels were in the correct range so she could make it until morning without needing to eat something. It took a little while for her to understand there was no getting out of finger pokes and shots. This wasn’t a passing phase.

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) reached out to me through their Family Link program and I was able to talk to families going through the same thing. It was nice to hear from others that the first year is the hardest and it does get better. I didn’t believe them for the first few months. I got the hang of carb counting and Cassidy learned tell us when she felt like she was low. I am now a walking carbohydrate counting expert.  Even when Cassidy is in school my brain is still calculating the carbs on every plate of food I make for myself or her brothers.

Cassidy, 5 years old

We found out about the Step Out walk with the ADA and Cassidy was excited to be a part of it. In the last four years she has raised more than $6,000.00 towards finding the cure for diabetes. She has volunteered with the ADA to help fill bags with goodies that they give to newly diagnosed patients. She also was a spit donor to help train diabetes sniffing dogs.

Cassidy with her favorite cat showing pump

Cassidy with her best friend – showing pump

Cassidy amazes me every day. She is my hero and example of being strong. At age six she started poking her fingers by herself. After the first year she was able to get an insulin pump so now she doesn’t need shots for Insulin. It was tricky getting used to the pump but she likes it a lot better because she has more freedom. If she wants seconds at dinner she doesn’t need another shot. She knows how to work her pump and with help counting carbs she can give herself insulin.

Our life has changed since she was diagnosed,and she has adjusted very well. Our family has been a huge support to us. I don’t know what we would do without their love. We can leave Cassidy now for a few nights with John’s sister, Michelle and she knows how to take care of her. We appreciate Michelle taking the time to learn how to take care of her. I know Heavenly Father has faith in us to take care of Cassidy and know she has been given the strength to handle this challenge. We are so proud of her.

The Pickering Family 2012

The Pickering Family 2012

Thanks Barbara, for giving me this opportunity to share her story. This was the first time I’ve written it and it was harder than I thought it would be.

Editor’s Note: Thank you, Deidre for sharing. We’re also proud of Cassidy, for all the good things she’s accomplished and for the way she’s handling this challenge. Give her a hug and thank her for inspiring us!