Monday, January 9, 2012

Let's throw school in the mix...

I have both dreaded and anxiously awaited today. In a twisted kind of way, Alex getting diabetes just as Christmas break began was good timing in the sense that we had 3 weeks to get ourselves past the shock and into a routine before we had to return her to school. I've heard so many stories about schools and diabetics, mostly leaning toward the negative side of things - that there are teachers out there that don't understand diabetes and will refuse to allow a diabetic child to leave the classroom for a bathroom break, water, or because they don't feel well. Diabetic kids often don't feel well. Most of the time from my very feeble limited experience they are right about not feeling well. How would you feel if your blood sugar went from 70 to 300 and back and then some all the time? You'd probably be moody too.

So I spent yesterday obsessing over the items Alex had to bring to school today:
  • Second Blood Glucose Meter
  • Meter Strips
  • Meter Lancets
  • Syringes
  • Ketostix
  • Insulin
  • Glucose Tablets
  • Glucose Gel
  • Glucagon Injection
  • Several 15g carb snacks
  • Substitute low carb/free food snacks
  • Cotton Balls
  • Alcohol Wipes
  • School Health Plan from Physician
  • A form in her lunchbox each day with the total carbs in her lunch
We packed it all up and I went over it and over it. I read about 504 plans and Health Emergency Plans. I talked to someone from the American Diabetes Association last Wednesday about School Safety seminars. And I obsessed some more. You think about a lot of things...
  • What if Alex gets a low on the bus ride? Will the bus driver know? Will anyone notice if she passes out? I had a long talk with her brother. I bought this cool key chain thing that attaches to her backpack and contains glucose tablets for an emergency. I packed juice box and skittles in both kids bags with strict orders to leave them alone and use them if Alex is acting dizzy or  faint or shaky. But will they remember? Will my ADHD son who can't remember what he had for breakfast notice if Alex is passing out? And why should he have to?
  • What if Alex is in PE and her PE teacher is yelling at her to run faster and she is sick. Will he catch that something is off? Or will he refuse to let her sit down and go to the nurse? Will he send a buddy with her so she doesn't pass out by herself down the hallway? Alex already has had negative things to say about this teacher in particular so how am I supposed to feel good about it?
  • What if someone brings cake one day? Will someone give her a shot if she wants a piece? Will kids blame her if someone says they can't bring those snacks anymore (even though that's not true). I've already had some experience with people who don't realize diabetic kids CAN in fact have things with sugar these days...just they have to have a shot and it isn't a great idea to have a lot of sugar every day or by itself...but a donut or a cookie at school once in a while is just fine.
  • What if Alex has a really low or really high blood sugar and has an important test and they make her take it anyway? Kids with really off sugars often do poorly on tests.
I could go on but you get my think of all these things and then you read all these crazy stories out there of things that went badly. My baby could have died in the ICU and now I'm supposed to send her to school with a bag of medication and hope she gets it when she can't give it to herself...

Fortunately for me I think anyway I lucked out in the school department. I went in briefly to talk with the nurse while Alex was still hospitalized and she already had my name down to call when she heard about Alex. She gave me a list of supplies she expected and assured me there were a few other diabetic kids in school she handles daily.

So off we went this morning with our bags of supplies and into the nurse's office where I gripped Alex's hand not ready to let go if I thought for a minute someone wasn't going to look out for her. The nurse was ready for us. She had a form with all my concerns and more. She'd already had talks with Alex's teachers and planned to walk Alex to her bus today and talk to the driver. She'll test Alex's blood 15 minutes before school ends to make sure she isn't low getting on the bus. She'll test Alex before lunch and before recess and before PE. She had a drawer labelled and ready for Alex's items and just her items. Her insulin is locked in the fridge.

She offered to walk Alex to class and do a show and tell about diabetes. Alex agreed...and asked me NOT to go. She is too shy when I'm there. So I impatiently waited in the health room for them to finish. I so wish I could have watched her because I am so proud of her but I get it...I'm mom...she is 9...she's lost so much so I get every little bit of independence means a lot.

The nurse came back and was impressed at how much Alex knew and how well she spoke about it all. Of course...someone brought donuts today for a birthday. So I went to Alex's class to ask her if she in fact wanted one. She did...they are eating them in the afternoon. So, she'll go to the nurse at that time and get a shot. I went home and printed out the carbs for a glazed donut from Dunkin Donuts. Alex asked me to come back at lunch to give her first shot at school.

I was home for about an hour and returned to school ready for the lunch shot. I was glad I did because the nurse room was buzzing with kids. One had a head injury. So Alex didn't have to wait for the nurse to finish with that child who needed immediate attention because I was there. I gave her a shot and her buddy from class watched and they both skipped off to lunch. Alex mentioned she went to the health room a while ago because she felt dizzy. The nurse did a blood check and it read 220. No low there! Alex mentions the nurse does the blood test way better than kidding! So let the nurse give the next shot for the donut, okay? Alex agreed.

So I'm home again waiting for a phone call or waiting for the bus when it pulls up at 3. But I tell you what...sitting in that CRAZY health room full of kids left me nothing but impressed with that nurse. She was attentive and obviously skilled and able to multitask. I could never do her job. I think Alex is going to be okay. I think I am too.


  1. Today was a milestone. The first time you send your CWD (child with diabetes) off to school.

    1 month from now, you'll look back and see how far you've come...then 3 months, 6 months, a year...

    Every day, you're going to discover a strength inside that you didn't know existed. You're going to find courage when you thought there was none, and hope when you feel like everything is lost.

    Congrats to all of Team Alex on a successful start back to school.

    It's one of many victories that are yet to come.

  2. Thank you very much Wendy. I appreciate the support a great deal!!!

  3. I am crying, because I remember the day that I had to send Ally to school with diabetes for the first time. It was HARD! I am thrilled to hear that you have such a good school nurse. Way to go to Alex and to you Mama for taking one little step forward!

    My daughter is 8, and each year since her diagnosis in kindergarten, I have gone in and read a story to the class about diabetes. This year she didn't want me to. Instead, she made a Power Point presentation about her diabetes and shared it with her class, without me!

    Wendy sent me your way. It's been so helpful to me to have the support of other Dmamas going through the same things that we do. I look forward to reading more from you.

    I blog about our journey with T1 at

  4. Thank you Misty! I appreciate you taking the time to respond. You're really does help to read other blogs from moms. I've been doing alot of that the past few days!