Embracing Life & the Child with the Disease


1st, 6th & 2nd Graders

Yes, school started yesterday.  I am officially the mother of a 6th grader, a 2nd grader and a 1st grader.  Not any one of these children hold a greater value or importance to me.  Not any of the three are loved any more or any less by their over-protective, helicopter momma.  I get a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach every year on their first day whether they have a chronic autoimmune disease or not.  I want Ethan and Aaron to have stellar days, awesome teachers and a smooth transition into each and every year.

But I have to admit the rules change a bit for me regarding anxiety when sending Ryan to school.  Diabetes can be a beast and all the variables and high maintenance can be a little overwhelming at times.

Ryan is in a magnificent school.  Words just do not describe its environment.  From the principal to the vice to the nurse to the secretaries to the counsellor to the nutrition services coordinator to the teaching staff all three of my boys have encountered, they are the BOMB.  I could give example after example of how they have been there for Ethan, even when he was not in their school anymore and had moved on to intermediate school.  They have been there for Aaron in building his confidence and nurturing him when that lip cannot keep from pooching out and those beautiful chocolate eyes well up with tears.  And God could not have better instructed angels to act, react and be there for Ryan and for me, the weeping momma, when Ryan was dx’d in his kindergarten year.  And they all know how to deal with this knee-jerk-reacting, overly emotional momma bear.  Just last week, I was meeting with the principal touching base with her about something regarding Ryan’s teacher for the year.  I apologized for being such a high maintenance mom and she quickly told me to never apologize for that.  And this is what she said after that, “There are times when the secretaries say, ‘Amy is on the phone for you,’ and I just tell them to bring her in, she needs to vent.  And I’m okay with that.”  And she continued to tell me how she knows me, gets me and how she is always willing to listen to me vent.  It is not a job to her, it is a ministry.  She’s not a principal, she’s my friend.

But I must get on with my blogging . . .

As I bought school supplies and back packs and first day of school clothes for Ryan and Aaron and uniform polos and plain/no cargo khaki shorts for Ethan, I was not anxious about school at all.  Ethan had his most trying year of school yet last year.  So much so, at times, I dreaded taking him.  But I had no dread for him this year.  New teachers.  A relationship with the vice principal.  Teachers we now go to church with.  I have actually been excited for him.  Aaron is my flexible, go with the punches, GT child.  I know he will adjust.  And I also know the principal will “let me vent” when I need to.  And as ironic as it sounds, I was not anxious for Ryan to go either (until Sunday night) and here is why:

  1. The nurse is an angel.  She was there when he was dx’d.  She has been there along the way.  She understands diabetes . . . and if she doesn’t, she calls.  She calls him “MY Ryan.”  She understands that Ryan needs a “safe place.”  She just gets it.
  2. The front office dotes over Ryan, understands his diabetes care and can/does fill in when Ryan needs it.
  3. The nutrition coordinator notifies Genna of lunch menu changes, so very little catches us by “carb surprise.”
  4. I know if something doesn’t work for Ryan, all I have to do is go in and we have a staff that WILL make necessary changes.
  5. The attendance secretary and principal (who place children in to classes) know the kind of teacher Ryan needs and I trust them to place him in the best place for him.  His teacher for 1st grade could NOT have been better.

And as wonderful as all this is . . . this year, there is an added bonus:

Ryan’s teacher, Mrs. M, has a two-year-old daughter who was dx’d with Type 1 Diabetes in June.

Now, do not get me wrong.  I do NOT wish diabetes on anyone.  I am sad that sweet girl has to have four shots a day and will forever.  My heart aches for that d-mom understanding the complete life-changer it is.  I wish things had been different for that family of three.

But as far as Ryan goes, having someone who just simply gets it.  It could not be more wonderful.  Talk about a “safe place.”  She knows he has to have insulin for every bite that goes into his mouth.  She knows he can have cupcakes for birthday parties.  She knows that activity can make his bg drop too low.  She knows what to do if he passes out or has a seizure.  She knows how to count carbs for that math lesson that involves gumdrops and fruit loops.  She knows the sunken eyes of a low or the blank look of an extreme high.  She.just.knows.

So why was I struck with 5 bazillion volt lightening bolt of nerves on Sunday night?

Eager to Learn

One word:  CONTROL

It’s not that I want control of him all the time.  It’s not that I think someone else can’t keep him safe emotionally and physically.  It’s not that I don’t want time for me to just be Amy.  It’s that diabetes has so many variables.  There is no strict manual to follow (wouldn’t that be nice!).  There are scenarios that arise that you simply cannot prepare for, that are unpredictable.  There is no way to cover all the “what ifs.”

And Sunday night, my mind ran away with me.  The fear took nearly complete control.  And I let that voice inside my head that tells me lies . . . I let him win.

And how did Ryan do on Monday?

Woke up at 112.

At snack he was 88.

At lunch he was 98.

At end of day he was 69. So I got a call from the nurse who treated him and said she would get Aaron and keep them in the office until I picked them up (no walking home if we are low).

And all went well.  Numbers are a bit on the low side for school, but we’ll wait until after Wednesday before we do any changing.

Ryan said his day was good.  Aaron said his day was good.  Ethan said his day was good too.  So all my worry and nail-biting was all for nothing.

So am I nervous today?  Not a bit.

And that little voice in my head . . . He has duct tape over his mouth today.

Happy 2011-2012 School Year Everyone!!

Just Ryan and Me


Comments on: "Backpacks and Blood Sugar Checks" (5)

  1. Beautifully written. I feel for the teacher whose 2 year old was diagnosed in June – that is how old S was when she was dx. School is scary and when S went to Kindergarten last year I was a nervous wreck with wanting the control and my biggest fear was that she would miss class b/c of going to see the nurse for regular checks or when she was low. It all worked out of course like it always does. We were lucky last year in that our kindergarten teachers husband has type 1. She didn’t know how to treat and care for it like us MoD’s but she still “got it”. I too am thankful beyond words for our nurse as she treats S like her own and that makes a world of difference to mom’s like us. Thank you for you story and hugs for a good school year!

  2. CONTROL…funny how that word is so powerful. And…how little of it we have…whether it be diabetes-related or life-related. I guess the only thing we can control is ourselves and how we react and cope. Easier said than done.

    Wonderful first day Amy…and I am so happy for you and the boys. It looks like you are off to a wonderful start to a new school year. Joe and Bridge start next Wednesday. Wo-freakin-Hoooo! This Mama is READY. xo

  3. Oh, I feel for the teacher too 😦 I had a 2 year old CWD. I couldn’t imagine the stress of returning to FT work. What a blessing YOU will be in her life.

    Congrats on a great start. It’s going really well over here too!

    God is good!!!!

  4. I want to come to your school. Our nurse is awesome… she calls them “my kids”, but the Principal, notsomuch!

    Glad they had a great first day. This is going to be a great year.

  5. It would seem that you were blessed in an unexpected way with an incredible blessing at your time of need 😉 While I am very saddened to hear that yet another youngster has been cursed by this horrible disease, I am pleased by your unexpected blessing! It has to be a great feeling as his parent to know that he will be “gotten” regardless of rather his blood sugar is high, low, or whatever it is. A great blessing in disguise that you don’t have to worry about carb counting, reacting incorrectly to his high/low, knowing it’s ok he can have that cupcake like you said, all that stuff that goes along with being D. This shall be a great year for Ryan!! I can feel it! While I recognize that this will be yet another year of all the unexpected events that always come along with a new school year, my prayer and hope is that Ryan, you, his teacher, and her lil one all have a GREAT year!

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