As a teenager, school is a big part of my life but as a Type One Diabetic teenager; school AND diabetes are BOTH a big part of my life. I always have to find time for the both of them. Diabetes gets in the way of school sometimes, but then again school can get in the way of Diabetes. Obviously, your health is a priority, you can always catch up on school work, but it's hard to "catch-up" on Diabetes.
I thought I would write a blog about how I survive school with diabetes. It's hard to find the balance a lot of the time, but making the most of the situation is key.
Obviously, this is in no way intended to be medical advice and of course everyone needs to collaborate with their diabetes team and school to stay safe at school with Diabetes and everyone has a different way of dealing with Diabetes and has a different routine.
This is just my personal experience of school and diabetes and how I dealt with it. Everyone is different.
Survival tip #1
Blood sugar mishap in class?
Don't be afraid to ask to leave the classroom. You are in control of Diabetes and no one can tell you that you don't have the right to leave the room. I was always afraid to put my hand up in class to go down to the office; I didn't want people asking questions. But, so what? Now, I just do it because obviously, my health is my first priority. If you miss work, get your friends to write down what you did in class so you can catch up some other time. That way, you don't miss out on too much learning.
Survival tip #2
People asking questions?
At school I get this a lot. I get asked a lot of questions about my diabetes; honestly? It gets pretty overwhelming a lot of the time. I still answer them, but I just don't go into too much depth! Answer their questions in the simplest way possible. Most of the time I find that doing this they just say "ahh" and sometimes get completely baffled by my answer and have no other questions to ask.
Survival tip #3
Diabetes tiring you out?
Diabetes is a really tiring disease to deal with. That puts a lot of strain on the person with diabetes and can make them feel pretty exhausted. I find that I get tired a lot. One reason being the crazy coaster ride that my blood sugars go on all day; or the constant finger pricking. For this; just go to bed early and eat breakfast in the morning. Eating breakfast and giving your insulin means no mid-day high blood sugars or low blood sugars (if you get the dose right!) and just the general energy that people get from their breakfast!
Survival tip #4
Running out of supplies during the school day?
Make sure that you give a bag or a box of extra supplies into your school office. I have been replenishing my supplies at school ever since I was diagnosed. In my bag I have:
-Extra test strips
-Two cartridges and a vial of insulin (In the Fridge)
-An insulin pen
-Extra pump cannula
-Extra batteries for my pump and my glucose meter
and extra glucose tablets and emergency glucogel
All of these supplies are vital to your every day survival with diabetes and running out of any one of them can prove to be rather catastrophic. Diabetes can be unpredictable a lot of the time; so on the unfortunate chance that something goes wrong with your insulin or pump site, most of the time your parents can't drop in to give you extra supplies because of work. So day-to-day life with diabetes at school very much depends on the cooperation with you, the teachers and your Diabetes.
Survival tip #5
Diabetes has a big effect on blood sugars; most of the time it will send them crashing down and you find yourself having a hypo and needing to sit out of class and miss all the fun. The way I try to avoid a hypo is to test my blood sugars before a PE lesson, if they are lower than 8 then I just eat a glucotab or two and then go ahead to do my PE lesson; if they are too high then I give insulin and wait it out until they are at a safer level; then during my PE lesson I test my blood sugars every half an hour or so to make sure I'm not dropping or going too high. That way, I can enjoy my PE lesson with all of my friends!
Survival tip #6
I'm in Year 11 now and Year 10 and 11 are the years in which students study for their GCSE's so school trips are out of the question now because we are all too focused on our serious work. However, I have had Diabetes since the beginning of Year 8 and I missed activities week because I was in hospital having just been diagnosed with Type One. However, I have been on one or two school trips after that and it is vital that when you go on school trips you have extras of all your supplies and extra snacks for hypos. I always made sure that the adults coming on the trip knew about my diabetes.
For example when I went to the London Dungeons there was a sign saying 'No food or drink inside the dungeons' obviously, this was possibly going to be an issue in the event of a low blood sugar and so I had to ask my year leader what I should do just in case and so she made sure that there would be a fire exit somewhere that I could go out of in case I went low so I could eat my snack.
Or when I went on my Duke of Edinburgh expedition. If you go on the Duke of Edinburgh expedition you have to carry a rather large bag. So to reduce the work-load for me, my teacher let me carry a smaller rucksack than the abnormally large camper bags so that I didn't go low all the time. It is safe to say that my rucksack mostly consisted of snacks and drinks. My big camper bag with my sleeping bag and tent in it stayed in the bag of the teacher's car! And because this was an overnight camping trip; I made sure that I was allowed to have my phone on me to keep in contact with my parents and teacher at all times when we were off doing the 6 mile walk.
So, those were the six survival tips that I have for Diabetes at school. This is my own experience and are the things that I have come across in my school life with Type One Diabetes. Thankfully I have never experienced bullying for my Diabetes or anything of the sort and I am grateful to have supportive family and a group of friends who always have my back at school when it comes to my Diabetes. It is important to know that the staff at school are there to help you out with Diabetes whenever you need help and so don't be afraid to ask them for help at anytime.
Remember, your health is your priority and if you ever have troubles at school with teachers and Diabetes, then tell your diabetes team because every child with Diabetes deserves the highest level of care they can achieve at school to ensure that they can enjoy and live as normal a school life as they can.
It is your Diabetes, your choice. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise.