I patiently wait in the pickup line after school, and when I’m finally up to the front, Jonathan and Kaitlyn hop in the car. It’s my favorite time of the day — picking the kids up from school and seeing how their day went. I ask the usual questions: How was your day? Did you do anything fun? What friends did you play with today? Did your test go well? How was class? Jonathan answers with his usual one- or two-word answers. I feel lucky just to hear these short responses from him. He’s a boy of very few words most of the time.
Kaitlyn, on the other hand, is my little chatterbox and tells me all about her day. “Well, Mom,” she says, “I don’t really know how class was today. I spent a lot of the day at the nurse’s office. I even missed all of math,” she says with a sly little grin on her face. (Guess who doesn’t like math?)
“You missed all of math?” I asked. I knew that she had had a low blood sugar earlier in the day — she probably dosed a little bit too much for breakfast — but I had no idea that she had spent that much time out of the classroom.
I started worrying a little bit when she said this, because that’s what I do best — worry about my kids. We’ve always worked so hard at making sure type 1 diabetes doesn’t hold her back from doing the things she wants to do in life, including excelling at school. Luckily, Kaitlyn is a very bright girl, and she’s willing to apply herself to do well, even in math! However, I can’t help feeling concerned that it might not always be this easy to make up the work, especially when she goes to middle school next year.
Having experienced middle and high school with my two older kids, I know how hard it is to miss class. They have to worry about missed notes, tests, and classwork, and they have to be on top of turning in homework and finding out new assignments. They have to juggle six to seven different classes and be prepared for each one. The teachers give homework nightly for every class and expect that the student take responsibility for finding out what was missed, either through a classmate or on the school website. My older two kids would rather go to school than miss a day even when they’re sick just because of how hard it is to make up the missed work.
I know that the most important thing is Kaitlyn’s health and safety at school, and I have always been grateful that the nurses have been so diligent and careful with her. I’m also grateful for how supportive and understanding the teachers have been. Not only do they do what is required based on our 504 Plan, but they truly show love and concern for Kaitlyn.
However, I think that we’re going to need to make some adjustments over the next few months and years. Perhaps we’ll be able to come up with a solution that will allow Kaitlyn to treat lows in the classroom with the nurse coming back to check on her. Or maybe we can allow her a little bit more flexibility and independence to take care of minor lows and highs on her own and only go to the nurse in more extreme situations. I’m not sure what the right answer is, and I’m anxious to talk to other parents who have dealt with this much more than I have. This is uncharted territory for us, but I’m hoping to figure out some way to keep her in the classroom more of the time!
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.