Forty-two years ago I went to second grade with something new. Not a new outfit or a new backpack, but something I would wear and carry with me for life…diabetes. I was seven years old and had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at the beginning of the summer after first grade. I was very fortunate that my parents, teachers, and friends helped me integrate diabetes into my second-grade life (and beyond). While caring about and for me, no one made it a big deal, and I was able to get on with all the things 7-year-olds would rather focus on.
The one downside I do recall is having to eat my snacks in the principal’s office. He’d joke with me while I sat eating my Nilla Wafers, or whatever my snack happened to be. And I really hated having to go to his office every day. After that first year I ate my snacks in class and it was never an issue again.
Of course, these days, diabetes management involves much more intervention – blood glucose monitoring, technology devices, parents “sharing” data, school nurses “sharing” data, and so on. As my own kids prepare to head back to school tomorrow, I’m thinking about all the kids out there who will be taking diabetes with them.
Whether it’s the first day of school with diabetes or it’s old hat, I hope everyone has their best year yet. I hope diabetes is just one small part of who these kids are and who they become. I hope they get to live life first and fit diabetes into it. And I hope they don’t end up in the principal’s office!