Blood glucose tests, tantrums and solutions in a Monster Manor

Before you read this post you should know that our family trialled the app about which the post is written. We received no payment for this, and this post is purely my reflections and opinion on the product we trialled and how it may help other families.

After diagnosis, the reality of the routine that would always be part of my baby’s life hit home very quickly.  Giving insulin injections to her never worried me because I had seen what happens to a body deprived of insulin.  The blood glucose (bg) checks were another matter entirely. I hated those checks with a passion.  They served as markers that in my mind highlighted my woeful inadequacies as guardian to this uninvited house guest.  I did not posses the tools required to act upon the information these results provided me with and to be honest, I hated carrying out the whole process.

My attitude to bg checks altered completely when she started pumping insulin.  Suddenly we were able to administer the tiny doses she needed to correct a high bg and the insight these checks provided became immensely important.  As a result, we have always viewed the checks as giving us valuable information to help us maintain her bg levels.  Not a test, to get right or wrong, but a snapshot in time and immediate information to help us make good decisions to keep her feeling and being well.

In view of my early attitude to bg checks, it is hardly surprising that a newly diagnosed child may have more than a few reservations about some of the aspects this diagnosis of Type 1 brings into their lives.  Their reticence to checking their bgs is utterly understandable.  If only there was some way of distracting them and engaging them with something else whilst they are happening.

Fortunately, we were not the only people to have seen the need for distraction techniques for a child with T1. A group of clever people from Diabetes UK, Sanofi and gaming company Ayogo, were putting their heads together to create an app which would help to address some children’s aversion to bg checks.  It was by happy chance we found ourselves being asked to help test drive this new app aimed directly at children aged between 6-13, with the intention of helping to motivate and distract whilst checking their bgs.

Pumplette at the launch of Monster Manor with @pauldixey ,Richard Lane, @StephenDixonTV , @DrKathBarnard , @DrKathOwen

Pumplette at the launch of Monster Manor with @pauldixey ,Richard Lane, @StephenDixonTV , @DrKathBarnard , @DrKathOwen

The Monster Manor app has proved a big hit in our household.  We have used the clearly displayed in app log to help Pumplette with her introduction into interpreting her data, spotting patterns and seeing whether there are any changes that need to be made. This knowledge empowers her and gives her more confidence again in her management and ownership of her T1.

As a mother, I can see how the app would be a really useful tool to distract a newly diagnosed child with a reluctance to check bgs. The game encourages the child to check their bgs, and rewards them with beans which they can use to purchase parts of monsters, pets and furniture.  Over time they can accumulate an entire manor of monster houses, each holding their own array of monsters and pets.  The collective nature of the game is subtly addictive, encouraging the child to log and gain the next piece of their own personal manor. It is a welcome distraction from viewing the numbers as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ and instead helps them to focus on what they can learn from that information.

Ultimately though, anything that encourages the collation of information is always going to be useful for those adults helping to guide the child through this new land.  And if that information can be collected in an enjoyable way, it has to be a winner in my book!!

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