Friday, August 10, 2012

Back to School

I think this has been the fastest summer on record since my kids were born. And oddly enough, it was a rare summer that wasn't filled with long road trips. Yes, we had trips. We went to California (twice). The kids both went to summer camp. But in summers past, the kids and I would pack the car up and drive 13 hours to visit grandma at the ocean and stay with her for 3 weeks (oh how I miss that beach house she sold). We'd then drive another 10 hours to Pennsylvania or Maryland and attend a family reunion and visit other family. Sometimes I'd go crazy and add a side trip to those two trips. So maybe now it makes sense to you that 2 short trips to California are nothing compared to what we've done.

I thought I would have all this time to attend local library events, parks, city pools, etc. with the kids this summer. I thought we would have many lazy days. Needless to say the time between Alex getting her insulin pump the last week of June and school starting 2 days ago is a whirlwind. And before I knew it, the first day of school was upon us.

First Day of School - August 2012

This is new territory for me. Alex nearly died last winter. I have no doubt her teacher took diabetes seriously. She came to the hospital. She knew how sick my little girl was. But how will this year go? What is the protocol for diabetes with a teacher who didn't experience what we experienced?

As soon as class lists were posted about a week before school began, I was sending an email to her new 4th grade teacher. Actually first I called the front office and asked to get a message to her for a meeting. I don't know who answered the phone but they weren't overly concerned. They told me I could meet with her at Back to School night because teachers weren't even in the building yet. They seemed annoyed at my call. I know a lot of the office staff so I wondered if this was someone new. Not to be dissuaded, I emailed the teacher.

She emailed back within 24 hours and graciously agreed to meet with me ASAP. When we met, I made sure to tell her I didn't care that her room was a mess (she kept apologizing). All I cared about was that she was willing to meet me at 7 in the morning before a long faculty meeting on her first day back to the campus.

And then I swallowed hard and tried to make the words form as nicely as I could. Because as a mom of a recently diagnosed 9 year old diabetic, I don't know where the "line" is - the line between being informative and ensuring she can be trusted with the care of my child and scaring the woman to death thinking my daughter was going keel over in her classroom every 10 minutes. You want the teacher to realize this is a life or death matter...but not to treat Alex like she is made of fragile egg shells either.

Anyway, I first made sure she was aware of the significance of being a type 1 diabetic and what you hear about on the news. I emphasized that Alex was able to enjoy anything the rest of the class enjoys as far as treats, etc. She expressed relief and immediately explained she had spent a day creating special welcome packages with starbursts for each child and then got my email about Alex and wondered if she needed to throw them all out. So we went over the protocols for foods. We went over the significance of giving Alex freedom to use the restroom, getting water, or visiting the health room. We discussed how to handle lows. I referenced her IHP that was in place. I urged the teacher to meeting with the school nurse and consider having the nurse talk to the class about diabetes. Finally, I asked her to always contact me first if she ever had concerns that Alex might be taking too many restroom breaks or snacks, etc. I don't want Alex to ever feel that she can't say she might be low because the teacher questioned her breaks. Talk to me. Let me talk to Alex.

I left the meeting feeling pretty good about the teacher, the protocols, and her compassion and willingness to learn about type 1 diabetes. She even asked to visit the health room with Alex sometime the first week to see what Alex does as far as testing since she doesn't have a frame of reference.

We attended Back to School night. I laughed a little over the ridiculousness of the bag of supplies for the health room which was far heavier than her school supplies bag. While I watched other parents hand over a small pill bottle with a little form to the nurse, I came up to sling my 6 pound bag and packets of forms and medical papers on her table. Then seeing it wouldn't fit in her box with the little pill bottles, I suggested Alex and I head up to the health room and put it all away in her drawer. Yeah, my kid has her own drawer in the health room for her stuff. That still seems so crazy to me. But it is what it is.

Yesterday afternoon, I received an email from Alex's new teacher (day 2 of school):

"Good afternoon! I just wanted to let you know that Alex has been doing fantastic.  She felt low this morning after Music and went to the nurse and has been fine.  She is so on top of everything.  I am so impressed!"


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