Tuesday, August 14, 2012
She Didn't See Me
He takes care of our school.
You'll often find him changing a light bulb or folding up the cafeteria tables. He helps to unload trucks of school supplies, and makes sure the classrooms are cool when it's 115 degrees outside.
When my car battery died in the drop-off lane, he rescued me with a smile, and a set of jumper cables.
And...when the school nurse was called to an emergency on the PE field right smack dab in the middle of dealing with a rough low blood sugar my daughter was experiencing, he stepped in.
"I'll stay with her. I'll stay here, and make sure she eats the rest of her lunch. We'll check her finger again in a few minutes. I know what to do."
It turns out his daughter also has Type 1 Diabetes.
The nurse emailed me to tell me what had happened, and how helpful it was that he was in right place at the right time. The first chance I had to thank him personally, I took it. Then I asked about his daughter.
"She was diagnosed when she was 9. She's 33 now. We tried to do everything right. We checked her numbers, and watched her diet, and kept up with technology and research as best as we could. We tried to keep as much control as possible, but she went wild there for a number of years, and nothing we tried was enough. She seemed to straighten out a bit after she had her baby...but...by then it was too late. She had already lost her eyesight. She lives with us now. My wife quit her job to help take care of her and our grandson. I was retired, but took this job so we can make sure they have everything they need."
His words stung...and served as a reminder that my daughter isn't guaranteed a life without diabetes complications, regardless of how hard I try to prevent them in the short amount of time I have to make a long-term difference.
As a parent, I've been criticized...for checking blood sugars overnight (we usually check between 12am-1am and then decide how to proceed until morning); for working to implement a 504 Plan in an environment where class sizes are at an all-time high, funding has been slashed, many districts don't employ school nurses, and educators are leaving the profession in search of higher paying careers; and for proceeding with great caution when allowing freedom to do things on her own (like sleepovers, for example).
I've been told I need to "let go", "get a grip", and "calm down". I've read comments on Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and news articles criticizing today's T1 parents, calling us "overbearing", "hovering", and "whining". (Interestingly, many of these opinions come from people who haven't actually managed a young child with an insulin pump themselves.)
Meanwhile, T1D is on the rise globally, at a rate of 3-5% per year...and the fastest growing segment of that population are children under the age of 5 years old. If we do not fight for the best control possible using the best tools available, around the clock, every. single. day...these children will enter into young adulthood facing a high risk of complications at a time in their lives when they will struggle to access health insurance, find jobs, and secure a future for themselves.
As a parent, when you do try to "lighten up" a little...A1c's start rising -- the next thing you know, someone begins reminding you of the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial.
Or you meet someone with a T1 daughter who is blind at the age of 33.
At 22 years of age, my daughter will have been living with diabetes for TWENTY years -- that's plenty of time for a diabetes complication to develop.
Anyway, he told me last year that his grandson would be starting school soon.
This morning, we were in a rush -- I'm recovering from a long evening of travel delays after making an urgent, unplanned trip to visit my grandmother over the weekend. The girls are recovering from 4 days without their mama :) When the two clashed this morning, it led to a mad rush getting out the door on time.
So there I was, stopped along the curb, hollering to my girls that I love them, and watching to make sure they made it inside their respective gates.
Then I saw a young woman with her arm linked inside her mother's. I could tell they were mother and daughter by the resemblance. She walked when her mother walked. She stopped when her mother stopped. Her mother made sure his backpack was zipped, and wiped a smudge from his cheek. Her mother watched him run off to the playground. Then her mother gently brushed the hair out of her face, and held her arm tighter as they turned around to step off the curb.
I saw her today.
But she didn't see me.
Posted by Wendy Rose at 1:26 PM
While I'm happy to share our experiences with what works, and what doesn't work, for the management of Type 1 Diabetes and Celiac Disease in our house, please do not mistake anything you read here for medical advice. Decisions regarding your/your child's health care should be made only with the assistance of your medical care team. Use any information from this blog at your own risk.