A Day in the Life of a T1D Softball Player
This picture……sparked a little controversy yesterday when it was posted on Facebook with the question “does anyone know what this is?”
A few people knew the answer right away. Test strips for a glucometer.
Many others thought they were arrow nocks.
And there were a lot of people completely disgusted that a kid would actually drop these on the dugout floor. We even received a few emails berating us for the showing what one person called, a ‘heinous’ picture.
It’s funny, because as parent of a Type 1 softball playing kiddo, the gross factor with the test strips fails me. And yes it is heinous, because sick children is perhaps one of life’s largest injustices.
Even so, I don’t really think they are gross at all. In fact, I just think it’s sad. And for those shouting that leaving these behind is somehow irresponsible…if you only knew the pressures and things these kids have to deal with and DO deal with in every area of life, you would likely bow to their level of responsibility. Because quite simply, their LIVES depend upon being responsible.
I think it’s sad that a young girl has to carry around an entire extra bag of supplies for her blood sugar, and her pump and snacks in case she gets low and that the coach keeps a Glucagon gun in his ball bucket at all times. I think its sad that aside from worrying about just playing a game, she has to worry about the spikes and drops in her blood sugar that seem to go hand in hand with exercise, adrenaline, exertion and either hot or cold temperatures. I think it is sad, that these girls have to come into the dugout because they start feeling funny, and check their blood sugar just to make sure that its okay – so that they do not pass out or go extremely high resulting in more strips, called Ketone strips, to make sure they aren’t headed for a dangerous cocktail that can land them in the hospital.
I also think its sort of sad that when I look at my daughters fingers, after she has been playing in a tournament all day long, I can see hundreds and thousands of tiny little pinprick holes filled with infield dirt, from all the blood sugar checks she has had to take in the last 22 months. So much so, that her fingertips are sometimes raw. So many that she can basically do it in her sleep, on a bus, in the car, and yes….when she has to – in the dugout, just to make sure that she doesn’t need to eat a little snack before she returns to the field to ensure that she is safe.
So what that when she opened her glucose monitor to check her blood sugar a few fell out on the ground. And before she picked them up (Because she did pick them up) and threw them in the trash we took a picture as we laughed about leaving a trail of breadcrumbs in the form of glucometer strips that any family with a Type 1 knows is an inside joke.
A regular blood sugar is something that ALL of us take or granted.
And for a Type 1 kid, the highs and the lows and the constant balancing act of maintaining blood sugars is an extremely difficult task. During tournaments and times of physical exertion these girls have to adjust a malady of things from their insulin doses, to their food intake just to stay in the game. It’s not always easy.
And they also have to worry about wearing a pump attached to their body, which is not always comfortable. And yes, when the tubing accidentally coils out from her jersey, they hear parents behind the fence talking about them – asking what in the world that kid is wearing?
There have been mornings that our daughter has woken up early for a tournament and has been stuck with a stubborn low, that she spent the entire ride to the park, hell the entire day trying to increase her blood sugar to a safe level so she could play. And other days where the mysterious and oh so frustrating high blood sugars have come out of nowhere, the ones that don’t seem to want to respond to her insulin doses and corrections, leave her with a splitting headache and blurry vision, that she has played anyways with all of her heart.
So while you may be worried about and in utter disgust that a child would drop a test strip on the floor of the dugout by accident – the parents of this child, and the child herself – are in a constant state of worry about something else every second of every day. They wonder if she will wake up he next morning. They wake up in the middle of the night to check her,because they have experience a low so low that their child was unresponsive. Because YES, that happens without warning.They worry about your sick kid being around their daughter, because any illness to a Type 1 kid, wreaks havoc on blood sugar and a simple stomach virus can turn into a hospital stay in no time.
They worry about paying for all the supplies, and a cure. They worry everytime they see their child give themselves a shot, which happens multiple times daily, and how badly their body will be scarred as adults. They worry about how this illness will affect their daughters kidneys and eye sight and vision and heart in her future. They worry day-to-day about what the completely unpredictable beast of a disease called Type 1 disease will throw in their direction. They worry about keeping insulin cool, and making sure that they have enough back up supplies with them should a site fall off during play, or tubing get kinked, or any number of things.
And they are just down on their knees grateful that despite the inconveniences this disease presents, their daughter has chosen to stay on the softball field. Because the truth is, sometimes it would just be easier (in the moment) if their child didn’t push the limits and try so hard to live as normal of a life as possible. And if a test strip being dropped is the worst thing that has happened all day long…..then WE Type 1 Folks call that a Darn GOOD Day!
And until we walk in one another’s cleats….we need to be careful how we judge!
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Thank you for this post, and for educating others about what it is like for these kids.
Well said. People just don’t get it. I have twins who are both T1D and have been playing softball since they could hold a bat. Playing travel since 10U and now play Varsity High School at 16. (They play field hockey and volleyball too.) The struggle is real. No matter how much explaining you do unless it directly affects someone they just don’t get it. No matter, just keep being you kiddo and don’t anyone or anything get you down.
I am a diabetic. I can only imagine how a child could learn to cope with this disease. They don’t get to eat and drink what all the other kids do. How do you think as a parent you would handle and explain to your kid what is happening to their childhood. I commend each child that don’t wasn’t to be left behind.
My youngest daughter doesn’t play softball, she plays tennis. My oldest daughter doesn’t play sports. Both have T1D. Sometimes as parents, we take for granted just how tough our kids are; I know I do although I witness their brave acts of responsibility each day. I take for granted just how much a finger prick hurts. They can do it in their sleep. I really enjoyed reading this to help me remember just how tough my daughters really are. #fingertipsofsteel
Thank you so much for writing this! My daughter was diagnosed 5yrs ago during softball season. She made it back for the last game of the season. Most of the time she doesn’t mind the curious questions but the rude comments and glares of disgust really get to her. She pitches for a travel ball team.
Thank you for sharing. What a great insight.
Forgot to mention in your write up she has to deal with this 24/7/365 for her life. We are proud of her for not letting diabets stop her from playing like a girl and getting dirty baby!
Bless you and your daughter! My daughter too deals with a disease everyday and battles through to stay on the field. People too often take the health of their “healthy” children for granted and never think about the struggles of others. My prayers are with you.
As a parent of two T1 kids, I am so happy when I see strips on the ground, on the couch, under the kitchen table, in their backpack, etc etc. it means they are testing. Which is a good thing!!!
This is so good. I don’t have T1D and don’t really know much about it, but I do have asthma and some other health problems that require me to take breaks during practices/tournaments and go to the dugout to take medicine or eat a snack/electrolytes. It’s hard because I feel like others don’t always understand that I am honestly doing my physical best, but that “best” is decreasing every day. I might look like I’m not trying in practice, but I’m actually just trying to not pass out on the field. 🙁