Sometimes, all you have to do is ask. I’m learning this over and over again when dealing with type 1 diabetes at Kaitlyn’s school. Luckily, we have a really great administration and nursing staff, and they’re almost always willing to allow Kaitlyn a few extra privileges to make life a little easier at school. It makes diabetes a little more bearable sometimes when teachers and staff care enough to make a few exceptions to the rules.
What rules, you might ask? Well, her middle school is full of them. Most of the rules make sense: no cell phones, no gum… okay, I get it. But one rule has always annoyed me — no backpacks in class. I can understand why they have this rule: The teachers don’t want to be tripping over them in class, because honestly, there’s not a whole lot of extra space in the classrooms. They barely have enough room for students, desks, and chairs as it is.
However, the amount of stuff the kids have to bring to school every day and to each class is outrageous. Kaitlyn has a huge binder holding her papers for all her classes, and then there’s all the school supplies she needs — extra paper, pencils, pens, glue stick, erasers, ruler, tape, sticky notes, index cards, colored pencils, calculator, red pens, whiteboard pens and eraser… I could go on. And then, she has a laptop case (not used for a laptop) that she schleps around holding all of her workbooks, spiral notebooks, and folders required for each class. Oh, and have I mentioned that Kaitlyn plays the cello? Yeah, she has to carry an instrument around that’s almost as big as she is. And then, as if that weren’t enough, she carries a diabetes supply bag with a testing kit, extra test strips, juice boxes, and extra snacks. Even with a backpack, it’s ridiculously heavy and awkward. Imagine trying to carry all of this stuff without a backpack; it wouldn’t even fit in carry-on luggage! With her pump and CGM (continuous glucose monitor) hanging off her belt and her lunch box in hand, she looks like a pack mule!
With this in mind, we went to her last 504 meeting, and I expected that I might have to fight to get her backpack privileges for the new school year. However, when I brought it up, the school immediately agreed that she should be allowed to have her backpack anywhere on campus and at any time. She’s also allowed to put her lunch box in the refrigerator in the health office each morning before school. I know it seems like a small thing to be allowed to carry a backpack, but to us, it felt like sweet victory! If I had known how easy it would be to get them to agree, I might have requested a wagon!
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.