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Back to School with Diabetes

By Meri Schuhmacher

Guest Blogger

Posted:  8/7/2012 4:22 PM


Editor’s Note: Last fall, the amazing d-mom Meri Schumacher from was kind enough to write an article for our e-newsletter News to Infuse, sharing some of her back-to-school wisdom to parents and other family members of children with diabetes. With another school year right around the corner for many, we thought this would be a good time to share this information with our readers of The LOOP as well. Hope you enjoy and a big thank you Meri for sharing.

I have three boys with Type 1 Diabetes, and I have to admit that the excitement of the new school year has lost some of its luster. It is like a giant kaleidoscope of worry obstructs the bigger picture...and in its dizzying wake, leaves one very fragile parent.  Every year I try hard to find my center, and repeat over and over my mantras from the year before. Today I would like to share my back to school mantras with you, in hopes that you will find some information helpful to your family. 

Mantra #1:  Don't feed the teachers...fear, that is. I'm guilty of going through conferences in tears, shaking from head to toe.  For years I thought it was important that the teachers know how scary diabetes is.  Unfortunately, I just gave the teachers hundreds of reasons to be scared to death of my child.  In recent years I have tried hard to keep an upbeat attitude. Of course, I still want them to take it all seriously, but now I only tell them the things they need to know.  Even though the information I pass on can be scary, they respond to my cues. Calm, clear and is the way to go.

Mantra #2:  Keep it simple Sally.  I'm raising my hand, I have done it. I have sent the boys to schools with novels/encyclopedias on everything diabetes. Turns out teachers don't have time to find information hidden in piles of text, so I've learned to simplify. Graphs...bullet points...lists....cheat sheets...tabs....they all make for easier referencing. Teachers appreciate simplicity.

Mantra #3:  Over pack.  Plan for everything. Why do batteries always die in the first hour of the school day?  I do not know.  But keeping every possible supply at school for every possible issue has saved us more than once.  Keep it all accessible.  Locking it in the nurses cabinet doesn't help if something is needed in a pinch.

Mantra #4:  Fake it 'til you make it.  It is normal for us to be anxious about our children being put in the hands of the school. Sometimes I need to put on my brave face and trust that everything will be okay. My children are more confident when they feel I am confident. The first weeks of school should be an exciting time. Diabetes shouldn't take away from that.

Mantra #5:  Fight for your rights. Too many families don't know what a 504 is. If your school receives even a penny of federal funding, they are required by law to accommodate a 504 plan for your child. The 504 simply states the rights your child has and goes over emergency procedures. It can pinpoint things as simple as a water bottle on a desk or things as complicated as glucagon use and missed PE time due to lows.

Mantra #6:  Keep your friends close, keep the nurse closer.  Even if you have a nurse that isn't there but only one morning a week like our family, it is good to have a good relationship with him or her. They are the ones that will be by your side advocating for your child.  The better the lines of communication, the better experience your child will have at school.

Whatever obstacles you face this year at school, remember that you are not alone.  There is an army of parents blazing trails right along with you. Get involved in the online community...and remember that there is no mountain too high for a parent prepared with a backpack full of survival skills and a heart heavy with determination.

You can do this!



Posted on Tue Aug 07 18:33:02 GMT 2012

First I am Diabetic. Children waited until adulthood to be. Have dear friends that are teachers. That said I don't think I would ever send a child of mine to a school, without a pump. Nor do I trust that teachers can fathom the enormity of it all. Very scary.

Rebecca Mcgallagher

Posted on Wed Aug 08 10:29:44 GMT 2012

Thank you so much for posting this.. i am the same way, when most moms and kids are getting excited for another approaching year i begin to dread the obstacles that come on preparing yet more teachers for what they need to know so that my child is safe everyday when not in my care. it gets very stressing at times and its nice to hear from another mom other then me that know what it is like. Thank you.

Sheila O'Sullivan

Posted on Wed Aug 08 10:46:02 GMT 2012

Good on you and great for sharing. Not a lot of sharing here in Australia yet so great to see your open and frank blog.

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