I do not say this frivolously . . . the school nurse is an angel. When diagnosed, in our hospital education stay, we were given so much information on what is “required” of the school, the teachers and the nurse. The diabetic educators gave specific instructions that we were to call them if we had any trouble at school and they would intervene. They even went so far as to inform us of laws that are in place to specifically protect and enforce the care of diabetic children at school. And I have to admit, I was already leary about the idea of Ryan ever being out of mine and/or Jason’s presence for the rest of his life! If there was a “fortnately” about the timing of diagnosis, it was that he was diagnosed on Thursday before Christmas break. It was hard because it was so close to Christmas with all the baking and candy, but it gave us a full two weeks to just work through it all before I had to send him off to school.
I went in and met the nurse the day before the boys went back to school. It’s all kind of a blurr, but I do remember being put at ease. It was just her presence, attentiveness, the yielding to do whatever needed to be done to help Ryan. Those first few weeks were amazing. I was scared, cried every day he went to school after he left . . . every day! But he was instantly so comfortable with her.
Pretty early in the process, she started making him guess his blood glucose before she even tested. She decided it would help him learn to pay attention to how he felt. The game evolved into one of the school secretaries and the nurse wagering a guess too to see who came the closest. I walked in two weeks ago, like I usually do a few times a week, and the nurse showed me a sticker chart with the names of both front office secretaries, the nurse and Ryan. And now, whoever guesses the closest to Ryan’s sugar, gets a sticker. Ryan LOVES to go to the nurse to have his sugar checked.
I usually go up to school and have lunch with the boys on Fridays. I had something come up one week and decided I wouldn’t be able to go for Friday lunch. The nurse emailed and said that Ryan had asked her to eat lunch with him on Friday. She said, of course, said yes . . . who could say no to that little boy? So when he got home that day I teased him and said I’d heard that he had a “date” on Friday. He didn’t seem to think that was funny at all. He hates to be teased. Another email came from Genna the next day that said they had lunch and it was great. BUT she said he made it very clear that they were not having a “date” . . . they were having a “meeting.” She loved it.
She is a great communicator with Ryan. And she mothers him and has to show a little tough love at times. I know sometimes he gets tired or bored or anxious at school for a variety of normal reasons. When he does, he goes to the nurse for a sugar check. BOTH his teacher and nurse are very patient about this, mainly because too often it is low or high when he comes down. But he will ask to stay and read a book or keep her company instead of going back to class. She gives him a hug and tells him he’s just fine and sends him off to class.
I asked him once why he went to go see the nurse so much because there for awhile, it had become a needless distraction for him. But I struggled with how to tell him he couldn’t go to the nurse except at lunch; he is so literal, I was afraid he wouldn’t go if he really needed to go if I told him to only go at lunch or that he was going too much. So, his comment to me was, “it’s safe with Nurse Genna.” Since then, I have often heard him refer to her or seeing her as “safe.” He so loves her and does find great comfort in her presence.
But Genna is not only one of Ryan’s biggest supporters . . . she is one of mine too. She is always concerned with how I feel and how I am doing. I find often when I go up to talk about Ryan or see how he is doing, she is loving on me, encouraging me, being my “safe” place. Talking with her I can be open about the struggles and frustration and exhaustion about maintaining Ryan’s disease. I find myself looking forward to going in and sharing and getting a hug or a kind word. I KNOW that if I ever need anything, Genna would be there for me just as much as she would be for Ryan.