This is how late this post is. Ben started first grade today. And that was late due a teachers’ strike. As much as I was tortured by the unexpected days-long 24 hour child-rearing responsibilities I was totally unprepared for (had forgotten how to do?), I am happy I live in a place where teachers can unionize unlike my poor home state of Wisconsin- governed by a complete idiot who hates teachers and nature and just may be your president someday….
And the first day was a breeze, in part thanks to the infrastructure set up last year. Last year, I got to meet a newly hired nurse two days before school started. She seemed really knowledgeable, had a good grasp of diabetes (insulin lowers while carbs raise blood sugar- why so hard for so many??) , and in fact had diabetes (type 2) herself. Turns out she also had dementia. (My diagnosis)
I realized the 504 is just paper that gets filed away and that I needed visual cues to action (brightly colored, GREEN, YELLOW, RED tables) on her BG log, BIG BLACK writing on his glucose tabs container reminding her how many to give, and probably should have put something on my kid’s forehead too, but I’m sure he wouldn’t let me. And I documented each whack thing she did through emails to her which I sent to the the school district’s health manager. I asked the principal to go in and tell the nurse something and to check back in 30 minutes to see if she remembered it. I tried to not sound crazy. It took a month or two of calm emails pointing out extremely dangerous situations created by the nurse, but she was eventually replaced by TWO competent nurses. (We have a lot of T1s at this school.)
Besides learning that sometimes people need to be re-purposed, and that I can help that along, I learned that we need a mechanism for making sure the little guys eat the lunch they are bolused for. They get less than 15 minutes to eat, sometimes less than 10- with recess on the other end of lunch. They can barely unpack their food with their teeny hands and buzzy-buzzy heads let alone eat it in that time. So I had to ask that his lunchbox get checked at some point after lunch. And! How to pack a speed lunch? A gluten free speed lunch at that. This is where I am still learning. Ben can wrap his little mind around 3 items. More than that is a burden. How to protein it up without causing colon cancer down the line (relied so heavily on cured meats)? Not tons of protein in these bars but at least some fat to slow things….
And how to deal with gluten every other day? Beware, in kindergarten there will somehow be more birthdays with cupcakes than there are kids in the class. And every holiday will be celebrated with glutinous creations- gingerbread house for Christmas! Decorate cookies for Valentine’s Day! Thankfully his new first grade teacher sent out a letter at the outset saying there are kids in the class with various food allergies as well as a few kids with diabetes, so let’s just celebrate birthdays with songs and cards. Yes, let’s.
I learned to trust Ben. I did not put a lock on his pump which surprised some other parents of T1s. What if he plays with it, boluses for …nothing? Well, he did that once at home, and he learned his lesson. Ultimately, he has to know what is going on. I was grateful for that when one of the new competent nurses called me at work and asked how to deal with a situation, and I could hear Ben in the background answering her- correctly.
I learned to really dial back on the basal rates at the witching hours of 2 hours post bolus (always somehow coinciding with recess or P.E.).
Most importantly, I learned he was not going to die at school. Seriously. It took a while for me to relax, but I soon learned to enjoy working for hours at a time without constant worry.
I’m going to enjoy this for a while because I know the next stage is even more hands-off, and some day there will be no oversight.