A New Stage
Sending your child to school without safeguards.
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September 2011 — As my son gets ready to begin high school, I am not doing many of the things that I have always done to prepare the school for his diabetes care for the first time since he was diagnosed. We are no longer providing informational folders about diabetes to the teachers and bus drivers, or asking the bus drivers to carry frosting gel in case he has a low blood sugar. The nurse won't be going into the classrooms to talk to his peers about his diabetes. We are getting to the point where we are transitioning from having these safeguards in place for him as he has matured and gotten older. We are heading toward the time when he will be totally in charge of his own care and not relying on anyone else, or any safeguards we previously used, to keep him safe in school.
In just 3 years, he will be headed off to college and will be living independently and completely responsible for his own care. This is the day we have been preparing him for since he was 7. When our elementary school nurse wanted to keep him in a bubble, we refused, saying he needed to be as independent as possible. We gave him as much responsibility as we could from an early age for good reason. This was his disease and he would be the one who had to learn to live with it. Having others take care of it for him wouldn't work for long, and wouldn't serve him best in terms of him becoming a responsible adult with a serious medical condition.
The only problem with removing these safeguards during this time is that, at times, he is still at the point where he would rather pretend that he doesn't have diabetes at all. He is heading toward being a responsible adult, but right now he is also still very much a teenager. He wants to blend in with his peers and just be able to do what all of his friends are doing. He would like to be able to eat what he wants, play sports as much as he wants, and just hang out with his friends without any interruptions from diabetes. So removing all of these previously-used safeguards at this time is a leap of faith (like so many others that came before it) that he will do all that is necessary to keep himself safe at school and during sports. As much as it is better for him to be managing his own diabetes while he runs cross country, it feels safer to us when the coach was supervising it.
So as much as we would like to celebrate these transitions as a sign of the growth we have seen in our son, there is still that hesitation inside us that wishes we still has those safety nets in place. I guess that this is one of those times when we need to trust in the level of responsibility that we have instilled in Joel since he was 7. If we had ever agreed to let him live in that bubble, he might really run into problems now. But since we never did put him inside that bubble, hopefully he has learned well how to manage life with diabetes on the outside.
dLife's Viewpoints columnists are not all medical experts, but everyday people living with diabetes and sharing their personal experiences, most often at a set point in time. While their method of diabetes management may work for them, everyone is different. Please consult with your diabetes care team before acting on anything you read here to find out what will work best for you.
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