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Monday, August 23, 2010

Wrong Numbers

Tuesdays are a big deal for Jack.

Tuesdays are when his school cafeteria serves pizza, which Jack loves to buy for lunch. Plus, we allow him to purchase a carton of either chocolate or strawberry milk to go along with it.

It's his beloved weekly carb-fest.

We only drink plain milk at home, and I never pack milk in his lunch box. Plus, we rarely eat pizza, because with its fat content, it wreaks havoc on his blood sugar level. Usually after eating pizza, Jack initially goes low, then he skyrockets, and then we end up chasing a high for hours. Most of the time, it's just not worth it. So we eat pizza, but not often.

He seems to do okay with eating it at school for lunch, though. He has plenty of "active" hours left in the day, and we have enough time to closely monitor his sugar levels and treat as necessary.

With pizza day approaching tomorrow, and with the new academic year upon us, this morning, I called the school district's nutrition services department to obtain the carb count on the pizza served at Jack's school. Last year, they went through several changes, trying various pizza vendors, and I wanted to make sure I had accurate information.

After speaking with a few different people, I finally reached a gal, who could help me. Apparently, only one person in the department can access nutrition information.

I explained that I have a son with type 1 diabetes and that I need precise nutrition information in order to make sure he receives the correct amount of insulin. I said that his insulin dose is based upon the number of grams of carbohydrates he consumes and that he can encounter serious problems, if he's not dosed correctly. I apologized for troubling her, asking for this data, but made it clear that it's a medical necessity for Jack.

This lady with whom I spoke made me feel as though I were bothering her. "You know, you can get that information online," she quipped. She then reluctantly walked me through the steps to reach the nutrition services department's new "Health-e Living" site.

I saw the nutrition information for a slice of plain pizza, but not for pepperoni. That led me to ask her about it.

"Well, that number you see is an average. We don't have specifics for either plain pizza or pepperoni. You'll have to go off of the average," she said in a snotty tone.

"Ummm, averages don't work for Jack! He needs exact numbers, lady!" I wanted to snap back in frustration. Instead, I politely thanked her and hung up to figure it out on my own.

We were only talking about the addition of some pepperoni slices, and pepperoni isn't exactly carb-laden. I decided it wasn't really a big deal.

I looked at the nutritional information for both plain and pepperoni that I'd saved from last year, and a slice of plain pizza contained 38 grams of carbohydrates, while a slice of pepperoni came in with one gram less at 37.

The district's website gave me an average of 37.25. It was fine.

Nonetheless, I was dubious about the accuracy of the site. So after ending my phone coversation, I went on to look up the data for both chocolate and strawberry milk. The site told me that 8 ounces of chocolate milk equals 31.94 grams of carbohydrates, whereas 8 ounces of strawberry milk equals only 12.91 grams.

"That can't be right!" I thought. "Maybe I've made a mistake." So I tried it again, double-checking the information I was requesting, and sure enough, it gave me the same numbers.

I retrieved the milk information I'd saved from last year, and I checked the dairy farm's website. My information matched that on the farm's site. Chocolate milk contains 29 grams of carbohydrates, and strawberry milk contains 28. I then called the school to make sure they still serve milk from this particular farm. They do. So I know I have the right carb count for milk.

But, the district's website gave me the wrong numbers. It presented inaccurate data. Now, how can I trust it? It's not reliable.

In the past, Jack has only bought lunch on Tuesdays, pizza day. But what if he asks to buy the corn dog, the terriyaki chicken or something else? How am I going to calculate the carbs?

I need to think this through. Maybe I need to talk to the cafeteria manager. Maybe I need to ask the school nurse to intervene and talk to the nutritional services department on behalf of all of the kids in the district with type 1 diabetes. Maybe I need to speak with someone else higher up within the district.

Whatever I need to do, I'll do it.


Reyna said...

OK...I have been here...2 years ago when Joe started K-garten. At the time he was the youngest child in the hx of the school to attend hooked up to and insulin pump. There was another child who had gone through the school whose mom came in to do his care/boluses/carb counting etc for years. There was NO CARB information on ANYTHING that the cafeteria was serving. Pre-packaged stuff, sure that was easy to figure out (like the milk), but pizza, chicken patty on a bun, corn dogs, etc...nAdA!!! So I went in and over the course of his K-garten year figured out the carbs in any hot lunches he chose to eat (he was only allowed hot lunch once weekly). Now, the district has all of their information on-line (sounds like your school) and it appears accurate. It is unfortunate the cafeteria employee handled the situation in the manner that she did. I am sorry for that Heidi. The last thing we need as pancreas' is bad carb data AND a bad attitude to match. This is SUCH A BIG issue and HASSLE!

Misty said...

I packed Ally's lunch almost every day last year for that very reason. She begs to buy lunch, and I agree to once or twice a month. Our school nurse is VERY sweet and gives me the school lunch menu each month with ALL of the carb counts on it. But I often look at them and question..can that be right? Then I try to talk her out of buying lunch again. You are an awesome mom for advocating so well for your little guy...and in the process for others with T1 as well!