Nine-year-old Ruby Halpin, from Newport, has been living with type 1 diabetes for three years. Ruby is a huge Newport County AFC fan and has been helping JDRF with the club’s Save Our Shirt Campaign.
The campaign aims to get JDRF on the front of the football club’s home shirt.
Her Dad, Dan Halpin, explains a day in the life of a type 1 diabetes parent – on a good day!
Watch the campaign video
Morning alarm clock
I wake up at 7 am, and my first thought is to check Ruby’s glucose levels! The Freestyle Libre device is such a godsend, it allows me to scan her sensor whilst she is still asleep! Today is a good day: 5.9 mmol/L and steady. It’s a relief that Ruby isn’t high or low, so her day can start normally.
Ruby comes down eventually to join me for breakfast: cereal and a treat today – Danish pastry, 80g carbs in total. Ruby will check her blood glucose and give herself the correct insulin dosage. She does it now like it’s second nature and nothing phases her, especially the injections, she is such a brave little girl.
Now her friends call to ask if Rubes can come out to play. Trainers on and she is gone! This is my panic moment; I say yes but I always have the dreaded thought of what if she goes low and I’m not close by? Or, what if a parent gives her something to eat? God, I worry! But I know she needs her little bit of independence to develop and needs to manage her condition without me being by her side 24/7.
Ruby goes with the promise to let me know if she is low or is offered food. She says she will check-in with me regularly.
I often don’t realise how aware she is of her condition and I don’t give her enough credit for how she manages it. But I’m a parent and allowed to worry and fuss. After an hour she returns for a drink and she checks her blood levels, everything is good and back out she goes.
Now it’s lunchtime and on the dot, she returns and takes her blood glucose. Declares she is having a ham sandwich, crisps and a drink, and without thinking I dutifully oblige. I am not the boss here, obviously. Ruby does her insulin and eats her lunch. Food despatched, she goes into the garden to play in her den with her brother.
Writing this I’m now thinking how lucky I am to have this girl as my daughter! So strong, independent and without fuss, quietly managing her condition without realising it. It’s become the norm!
Noises from the garden vary from laughter, bickering, shouting, screaming, giggling, moaning but generally having fun. I do enjoy just listening to my children and eavesdropping on their conversations, it’s a real eye-opener – I’m OK apparently but rubbish on the Xbox!
They are both back in now for tea and declare they want spaghetti, garlic bread and ice cream. More high carbs – she is on it today! Waiter service has resumed.
Ruby sorts herself out with blood glucose checks, and both my children complain about why food is taking so long. Expectations from this pair are instant food… but reality sinks in and it’s going to be 20 or 30 minutes yet. They scream “Oh no, the world has ended!”
20 minutes later, after Ruby has injected her insulin, both are happily scoffing away, and platefuls are demolished. Bolognese everywhere, ice cream all over their faces and they stink of garlic – meaning tea was a success! However, I am drained.
Both cleaned up and dispatched to their bedroom to play games, watch TV or read until shower time and bed. The blood glucose target is 8 mmol/L, we never achieve it, but I can dream, can’t I?
Rubes will scan herself before bed time and either declare she is OK for bed or she needs a biscuit and milk. Off she goes to sleep! Breathe and relax! Well sort of… I need to clean and make plans for the next day: food shop and chemist to collect prescriptions.
At midnight, I go in and check on Ruby. Scanner says 6.3 mmol/L, and steady so no need to wake her – brilliant! Spytty the dog (Newport County AFC’s mascot) and Rufus the teddy bear are nearby keeping her company.
Morning alarm again…
The next check is at 6-7am and all is good! 24 hours complete and so onto the next day…
All in all a good day – no hypos, and no highs! It’s not always like this. I could write a
book on hypos and the dramas that we have along the way…
Like forgetting to take her bag with us when going out…
School – how do we manage?…
Coughs, colds and illness…
… and tantrums because she cannot have sleepovers yet.
The list is long and exhaustive but my advice is preparation, manage and keep calm – you will get there.
Looking back on an average day, you realise Ruby can do all of the normal things a 9 year old can do and with good management can lead to a close to normal life. As she gets older, she will take over those responsibilities of managing her condition but like all parents no matter how old they are, they are always your children and that’s the world of parenting.
How to support the campaign
Newport County AFC fans and JDRF supporters can support the campaign by visiting the Save our Shirt NCAFC Crowdfunder campaign.