Our dear “Nurse Liz” (as we affectionately call her) just retired last week, and we are so sad to see her go! Unlike teachers who have followed Kaitlyn for a school year and then moved on to another class, Liz has been there from day one of kindergarten until almost the end of Kaitlyn’s fourth grade year.
Even though Liz is not a registered nurse (technically she was a health clerk) and did not directly oversee insulin dosing and carb counts, she was a constant in Kaitlyn’s life. She looked after Kaitlyn and saw her several times a day, every school day for the last five years. I often called her Kaitlyn’s fairy godmother because she was just that—another “mommy” at school to help her with anything and everything. She helped to monitor blood sugar numbers throughout the day, kept in constant contact with the district nurse, and helped to coordinate class parties and field trips.
I know she went above and beyond the normal duties of a health clerk. She gave Kaitlyn sweatshirts when she was cold and snacks from her own lunch when Kaitlyn needed a little something extra or different from what was in her lunch box. She gave Kaitlyn thoughtful gifts at Christmastime and sweet notes in her backpack. When Kaitlyn forgot an assignment and I brought it to the office, Liz would take it upon herself to walk it over to her classroom. Just thinking about all the effort and especially the loving care that Liz gave to Kaitlyn brings tears to my eyes. As I said to her on her last day, “What are we going to do without Nurse Liz?”
As sad as we are, we also want to embrace the opportunity to make a new friend. The new health clerk has started coming to school and is being trained this week. Although I haven’t met her yet, I know they’re training her well and Kaitlyn seems to like her. When I called the office today, the district nurse was training the new health clerk on how to use treatment for severe low blood sugar. Kaitlyn has also been helping to train the health clerk by showing how she tests her blood sugar, explaining how to treat highs and lows, and how to operate her pump.
Kaitlyn has felt pretty special in this process so far, and from what she says, the new nurse is making a big effort to learn about Kaitlyn as a person and not just what to do for her blood sugar. I am confident that Kaitlyn will be safe at school and well looked after, and maybe the new nurse will begin to fill the huge hole that Nurse Liz left in our hearts.
Disclaimer: The experiences and suggestions recounted in these articles are not intended as medical advice, and they are not necessarily the “typical” experiences of families with a child who has type 1 diabetes. These situations are unique to the families depicted. Families should check with their healthcare professionals regarding the treatment of type 1 diabetes and the frequency of blood glucose monitoring. Jen and Kim are real moms of kids with type 1 diabetes and have been compensated for their contributions to this site.