Summer holidays are fantastic! Even if Type 1 diabetes does not behave itself, there is the time and the energy to deal with it. We live in Australia and this beach has been our home for many days in the last few weeks. How lucky is that?
Summer holidays go fast here! By the time you have Christmas and New Year celebrations, then put away the tree, it’s almost time to start getting organised for the new school year. I am most definitely not complaining about the holidays I get as a teacher. I’m comparing them to the British summer holidays when I had seven glorious uninterrupted weeks. Mind you, summer weather often passed us by!
Now we come to getting ready for school to go back. We don’t mention it much, but shoes have been purchased, pens and pencils are neatly arranged in a drawer, exercise books are piled up ready to be ignored for another year in favour of Google docs, the diabetes supply drawer is a testimony to organisation. So, what’s the worry?
During the holidays my sons are so independent. They’ll head off to the cricket nets, cycle out to a water hole in a local river and swing off ropes, meet up out the back of our house with mates and plan their day or hang about in the man cave (which will soon become a sanctuary of academia, where boys will sit and quietly study. I can but dream!).
Now, I have to hand the care of my (gorgeous, big, sometimes grumpy, often funny, 15 year old) son to a new group of teachers. This scares the hell out of me. My boy is tall, fit, sporty, as reasonably motivated as you can expect from a fifteen year old boy and looks perfectly, horribly normal. Type 1 diabetes is such an invisible disease and misconceptions around its causes and treatments abound. Last year my boy had some scary moments at school which were not all handled well but thankfully the year ended with an education session from our Diabetes Educator. Again, what’s the worry?
I’m a high school teacher. I get it! There is so much to take in. There is information to remember on every child so I’m just hoping that his teachers will remember the information they were given on my boy. I want his name to ring bells in their head and for them to take the time to read the information on him and to know what to do if he needs them.
Someone in authority at his school told me last year that my son needs to take more responsibility and let teachers know when things aren’t going well. In other words, he needs to be an adult , not a fifteen year old boy. He needs to be able to communicate through low or high blood glucose levels and make things easier for everyone else.
There seems to be an assumption amongst some people that when a child gets a chronic disease, such as Type1 diabetes, they are simultaneously gifted with clarity of thought, maturity and the ability to communicate clearly in all, but especially in potentially dangerous, situations. Come on! What kind of teenagers were these people? I let this person know that they needed to realign their perceptions with the real world which is inhabited by real, live, less than perfect human beings. That is exactly why we have a management plan.
I love teaching teenagers. One thing I know, with absolute certainty, is that they are generally not finely tuned creatures! As the mum of three boys, I know this to be especially true of the male species whose poor brains develop at a slower rate than their female counterparts. The management of diabetes is huge, takes a high level of organisational skills and is constant. My boy does a pretty damn good job most of the time. Perfection is not a prerequisite in this house. I know that one day my son will leave school and won’t have the same safety net around him but while he is at school, I have expectations from those around him.
I wrote this poem last year and it still holds very true. My boy isn’t on a pump. His choice is to use insulin pens. That is his choice and my role is to support him. His little surf branded bag is his pancreas: his insulin pens, his blood glucose meter, his needles, his juice poppers.
We will enjoy the last few days of our freedom.