Sigh of relief: Tech gives PCSD parents peace of mind
The mother of a child with Type 1 diabetes, Bridget Llewellyn learned to live with the ever-present anxiety when her daughter was away from home. She’d spend entire days in the Parley’s Park Elementary School parking lot, ready to take action if her daughter’s blood sugar level drastically changed.
But those days are over. Llewellyn and her daughter, Chloe, are among the first in the Park City School District using new open-source technology that allows Llewellyn to wirelessly monitor Chloe’s blood sugar level throughout the day. And she’s hoping other parents in the district follow suit.
"It’s life-changing, the freedom and the peace of mind that it gives to parents," she said. " I think the first night, I cried when we got it working."
The idea behind the technology — dubbed the Nightscout Project — is simple. It wirelessly transmits the readings from a commonly used machine called a Dexcom that monitors glucose levels. With a child hooked up to a Dexcom, parents can get real-time blood sugar readings sent to a smartwatch or to an app on an Android phone, allowing them to monitor their child from anywhere.
"Obviously, there’s no substitute for a blood test," Llewellyn said, adding that Chloe has used the Dexcom since 2012 and the transmitting technology since June. "Hands down, that’s the best way to know what your child’s blood sugar is. But this technology really leverages what’s available and extends the options for monitoring your child’s safety at school."
The Dexcom also provides predictions of where the blood sugar level is trending. Parents can then analyze the information for patterns to understand how certain foods or routines affect their children and adjust insulin doses accordingly.
"That gives you an idea of what you need to do or what’s coming up on the horizon," Llewellyn said. "You can also go back and look historically at what (your child) is doing and vary what you need to do. You have something to go on."
Sara Sergent also has a child with Type 1 diabetes at Parley’s Park. Her son Weslee was diagnosed about five years ago, and using the Dexcom and the transmitting technology has also changed their lives.
"It relieves a lot of stress and anxiety throughout the day," Sara Sergent said, adding that both she and Weslee wear a watch to view the readings. " And he feels really empowered because he can just glance down."
Nicole Kennedy, a nurse in the district who works with diabetic students, said the transmitting technology not only helps students and parents but also teachers. They, too, are given access to the Dexcom readings and can rest assured that parents are also keeping track of the students’ blood sugar.
"They can then focus on teaching," Kennedy said, adding the use of the technology has the full support of administration. "It’s a pretty amazing device."
Added Llewellyn: "Obviously, they have more students than just their diabetic student that they need to focus on. It returns them to really focusing on educating kids and takes that weight off their shoulders."
Kennedy estimated that there are more than a dozen diabetic students in the district and said she knows of only Chloe and Weslee using the transmitting technology. But with the rate of children with Type 1 diabetes increasing, the technology has a chance to benefit even more families in the future.
"We want to bring the awareness to other families because how amazing it’s been for us," Llewellyn said, adding that the transmitting technology can be added to the Dexcom for less than $100. "Being able to help someone else would be phenomenal because it’s been life-changing. I can’t imagine not passing it along."
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There was a common theme in every address delivered during the Park City High School Class of 2021 graduation ceremony Thursday: gratitude.