Big disclosure – Abbot invited myself and Pumplette to attend this event in the hope that I would blog and tweet about it. Pumplette received a Freestyle Libre meter and two sensors to try before the weekend. Abbot do not have any editorial control or input into my ramblings!
If you went down to the Greenwich Royal Observatory at the weekend, you’d have been in for a big surprise!! If you went down to the Greenwich Royal Observatory at the weekend, you’d never believed your eyes. For lots of children, aged between 7-11, had gathered there, for certain because they were to participate in the first ever sleepover in the Planetarium! (OK, it doesn’t properly scan with the original music, but I’m sure you get my drift!)
Early evening, in the London mist, a gaggle of very excited children and some slightly apprehensive looking parents, arrived at the Peter Harrison Planetarium, looking forward to an evening of learning and fun, followed by a night of, well, fun, before reemerging the following day to sleep. This event had been organised by Abbot to promote their Freestyle Libre which has recently received approval for use in paediatrics. The Libre is a medical device, labelled as flash glucose monitor, where the wearer waves a meter over a sensor that has been stuck to the skin with a fine glucose sensor that is inserted into the skin. The sensor detects glucose levels in the interstitial fluid, just below the surface of the skin. By waving the reader over the sensor (which is roughly the same size as a £2 coin) a bg reading is displayed on the meter along with a retrospective graph showing what bg levels have been doing. This enables the wearer to make fully informed decisions about basal changes or bolus changes that may or may not need to happen. It also means that no fingers have to be pricked in the checking of bgs. The idea of this sleepover event was to enable a whole herd of children with T1 to have a fantastic time together where they could just enjoy the fact that they were T1, as their muggle siblings stayed at home and it was very definitely all about them!
For Pumplette, being one of a majority, when it happens, is a very empowering and liberating experience. She loves socialising at events like these as there is a very quick shorthand for all participants. No one stares at her as she checks her bgs or dials up a bolus on a pump. No one asks her whether that hurts or what does that do or can you have that. These are lovely changes from her norm when she is out and about with new people. True to form, within the first half an hour, over food, Pumplette found a kindred spirit and the two girls were then utterly inseparable for the remainder of the event.
Food scoffed, and bolused for, it was then time for us to watch a wonderful show from the Planetarium where all the star gazers were treated to a whistle stop tour of our solar system, galaxy and the universe! All of this AND a message from Stephen Dixon, encouraging all the children to maintain a ‘can do’ attitude in all they do.
Once the show was over, the children were spirited away by two men, who answered to the names of Sharky & George, & whom I can only assume are direct discendants of the Pied Piper. Every child streamed out of the auditorium after this pair and it was only occasional hypos that coaxed them to return to a parent! Whilst the children were gone, the parents listened to a presentation given by Tabitha Randall, a consultant paediatric endocrinologist from Nottingham. Tabitha reported on the efficacy of the Libre when used by paediatrics and how it could help with basal testing and carb:insulin ratios. The different graphs and data that the Libre records are easy to interpret and Tabitha reported that many adolescents like the absence of alarms found on conventional cgm systems. I was struck by the possibility to reduce conflict between parent and child over whether bg checks had occurred during school hours. This system will retrospectively store the previous 8hrs of data, so even if a child is reluctant to check bgs under the scrutiny of their peers, this system can provide them with a swift and discreet way to see how their bgs are getting along. A finger prick check is still needed before any insulin is administered, but we all know that diabetes in the wild doesn’t always adhere to the necessary safeguards put in place to protect children and adults alike.
I felt the strengths lie in being able to give child and carer a clear picture of the things that are going on day to day. Carers are then able to support the child to make changes armed with a “full picture” knowledge that a continuous graph can provide.
Tabitha had barely uttered her closing sentence when a few of the children burst into the auditorium to demand adult bodies and assistance with the tug of war deciding bout that was about to commence in the long gallery that was to be our bedroom later that evening! Much hilarity ensued as many of the parents joined in (probably a little more competitively than their offspring). I am more chuffed than befits a grown woman at having been on the victorious end of the rope!
By now it was quite late, and the children indulged the adults in the farce that they called “getting ready for bed and sleep”. The adults in response indulged in pizza and downing their own body weight in tea and coffee! Once pyjama clad, the children were then led toward the arms of Morpheus by Sharky and George who this time had transformed themselves from hurricane whipper uppers to serene story tellers. This was, however, an optimistic wheeze, and the reality was most adults and children alike were properly asleep around about the 1am mark.
The Abbot staff did a great job looking after everyone, ensuring all T1 eventualities were catered for (seriously, an entire battalion of hypo T1s could have gate crashed the event and there would still have been hypo treatments and biscuits to spare!) and the staff were the last ones standing overnight – some even being called upon numerous times in the small hours – and the first ones up and at them on the Sunday morning. Every single child there had an absolute ball and hopefully it will have given lots of parents watching the confidence to know their children would have a blast at any sleep over. All it needs is a little planning before, and your child could be gallivanting to sleep overs all over the parish. Or the county. Or the country. Or the planet!