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At middle school orientation yesterday, Charlie definitely felt like a little fish in a big pond. A big pond littered with dirt bags and greasy-haired punks. Though there were others of his small species swimming around, trying to find their way.
Susanne had a brief discussion with the nurse and was leaving the office when another mother and son combo approached.
“Diabetes?” the mom asked Susanne.
The two boys flashed their pumps at one another as if members of a secret society. In my mind I like to imagine them saying nothing and nodding expressionless at each other like spies. They tip their fedoras at one another and disappear into the damp and foggy middle school halls.
But before this, a stinging dose of reality.
For thousands of families like ours, the beginning of the school year is a stressful time; even more so when it is a new school and a new nurse you must put your faith into. Coordinating gym class and lunch and snacks while not wanting your child to spend half the day in the nurse’s office is tricky business and it takes some serious discussion.
The guidance counselor was quick to discourage that Charlie test his blood sugar in the unsupervised locker room prior to gym class.
“I'd like to say that all sixth-graders are going to be kind and respectful, but they won't all be,” she said. "It's unsupervised down there and they may not just leave him alone."
Wait. What? Teasing? He could get teased for having diabetes??? We never had to worry about this in elementary school. Elementary school smelled like bubble gum and unicorns. The hallways were lined with rainbows and shiny happy toothless faces and the kids thought Charlie was cool and brave for having type 1 diabetes.
Maybe Charlie’s right. Maybe he will get stuffed into a locker for having diabetes. Maybe we should think twice about telling people that type 1 diabetes is not contagious.
Michelle Kowalski, a writer, editor and photography hobbiest living in Phoenix, was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in February 2005. In January 2008, as part of her quest to start on an insulin pump, Michelle learned that she actually has type 1 diabetes. (Read More)
Nicole Purcell lists having type 1 diabetes last when she's asked to provide information about herself - because that's where it belongs. (Read More)