Friday, September 10, 2010

The Angst-iness of Back to School

It is the beginning of the school year and the posts about diabetes at school are everywhere. In Blog Land, on Twitter, on Facebook…

There is a lot of angst out there and I don’t find myself immune to it.

Yes, J is taken care of at the Junior High. He has awesome adults keeping an eye out, and I am completely at peace with him leaving in the morning for 6 hours. But, the reason it’s so awesome is because J takes care of himself. He does his own checking, his OWN correcting. The only people with a handle on his numbers are me and him.

Which leads me to the problem I am having at the elementary school level with B and L…and I’m going to go out on a limb and guess that my problem is close to the very core of everyone else’s back to school angst…


Some have amazing nurses that have dealt with T1 and GET IT. But most of us don’t. Most do not have nurses that really understand Type 1 in children. Heck, many of us, including my boys, don’t even work with a nurse!

Regardless, in most cases there is someone, who does not get it, looking at our children’s numbers and JUDGING.

Case in point…

L is still really little. He is 6 and is tasked with checking his own sugar and then calling me twice a day with the numbers. We have him set up with an old cell phone of which he presses the number 2 and the phone magically dials me. He reports to me his numbers…and apparently, his teacher too.

The other day our snack conversation went something like this.

“Hi mom! I’m 302 and if I get to 400, my teacher says you better come pick me up! Bye!”

(Ummm…yeah…our conversations only go one way.)

But seriously…I felt judged. I always do.

Yesterday his teacher called personally because he was low. He was 56, and she wanted to know exactly what to do.

Did she say anything to me to make me feel bad? No, she was very nice. But did I feel bad anyway? Yes.

Because as great as she is, she just won’t ever get it. (Because really, you can’t get it without living it…or REALLY wanting to get it…and honestly she is too busy to be invested in such a huge endeavor.)

I’m not knocking teachers or nurses or secretaries, or whoever is helping our little ones. It’s just when a number isn’t what we hope it to be…they don’t understand that we put all our time, effort and worry into that number and our heart aches because of it. They don’t understand that the number is NOT your fault…it’s the diabetes fault. They just don’t understand.

And as a result, I feel judged.

And as a result of feeling judged, I feel angst.

And as a result of the angst, I wrote this post.

And as I’m writing this post, I have a feeling that many of you will agree, because sometimes our best human actions are not the best pancreatic actions. WE know we are doing the best we can…but do they?

They probably don’t. And feeling that these people don’t think you are doing the absolutely best you can for your child is a heartbreaking, anger inducing thing. Last year I felt so judged by L’s kindergarten teacher that I sent her a three page email explaining diabetes and that numbers cannot always be between 100 and 120 for a 5 year old. Even though she called me and was so kind about it all…I still felt that pang of judgment for the rest of the year.

Is it their fault?


Is it my fault?


Are they even really judging me?

Hell, I don’t know for sure…but probably, everyone does it...I mean; I’m judging their judgment right now!

Regardless…it is just one more guilt trip that I don’t need. I feed myself enough guilt as it is.

School brings the worst of my insecurities out. I think maybe that is why I’m so obsessed with getting good A1C’s. I can say, “Yeah…you don’t see it, but my endo says he is doing perfectly. His team is very pleased with his numbers and lab results.” (Seriously that was my fallback all last year.)

So where am I going with this. I don’t know people. All I know is I wanted to get the ugly truth out there:

I put blood sweat and tears into keeping my boy’s numbers in check…and the thought that someone at school may think I can do better…work harder? Well, it makes me feel like I’m in elementary school again. My feelings get hurt and I just want to collapse in the sandbox and cry.


  1. Hugs. You are right. No one understands unless they are living with it.

  2. I'd feel the same way! I think you're handling it very well! Because after reading all the back-to-school posts, I've pretty well decided I'm homeschooling The Bean until she's old enough to manage D all on her own. For reals.


  3. I so feel you here....we LOVE our nurse and she's pretty good about letting the numbers come and go...but, our previous nurse....OMGSh....Sugar missed SO MUCH class time because she had to call me to break apart every number out of range until I could provide her with an explanation.

    Sometimes I DON'T KNOW is the best explanation I have.

    And even THAT wasn't good enough for her!

    Much love. Keep up the good work!!!

    word verification:


    Does that sound like a good med for hurty swelly brains?

  4. Family is just a judmental sometimes. I hate that feeling too!
    It is all I can do not to loose it and tell them to try and see if they can do a better job.

    Heck, maybe they can.

  5. Hu. Ok - Meri, you have totally baked my brain here.
    Here is the thing. I am one of those people that STRESS OUT over what other people think of me. When I think someone is angry or irritated with me, it EATS at me. I CANT STAND IT! I am a peacemaker... and when I dont have peace around me and in my relationships I obsess over it! (Drives my poor husband crazy!!)
    And even crazier than that - I dont think I care. That is HUGE for me. And has me a little spooked - haha - cuz that is just SO not me. Weird.
    Anyway - thanks for baking my brain!!!

  6. I get it. I really do. But here's the thing - their judgement comes from lack of education. They just don't know. They don't know what you know, what your boys know, or what it feels like to live with T1D. They may think they have a clue, but we all know they don't. And it pains me to know that these uneducated (in T1D) people upset you. PU-LEASE! You are so smart, and so on top of things, and such an uber-D-mom! I know it's hard to do, but try to let it just roll off your Super-Mom back.

    I'm sorry you're so angst-ridden right now. Don't let the turkey's bring you down!

  7. Oh Meri...I hear ya!!! This is the first year I have sent Miss E off to school and I have been a wreck, each morning I would think "ok, what are these cheerios going to do to her blood sugar and man I hope she's under 200 at snack time!".

    It's hard not to feel judged sometimes and I get it, people don't know unless they have lived it.

    So far school has been amazing for Miss E...someday I will actually get around to posting about it :)

    Big hugs!!!

  8. Meri...I hear you. Our nurse once said to me that she was shocked that Joe's numbers where what they were seeing that I put so much work into them...and they were somewhat wonky. WTF? The next day she did apologize. I did think to be a little offended, but I just kind of blew it off. Like you said, unless they live it...there is NO way they could even begin to get it.

    I'll dry your tears in the sandbox friend. xoxo

  9. Sometimes it seems like people who know a little are harder to deal with than people who know nothing - because the ones that know a little think they know everything and they SO do not!

    Please bless anyone with a BG over 400 doesn't have to go home from school - if so heaven knows there are going to be a lot of kids missing class!

  10. Oh, Meri! I wish I could give you a hug right now! It's amazing how stupid some educated people can be sometimes, isn't it? I do think it is natural for us to judge. We all do it at some point. We're human. But, I sincerely hope the teachers and nurses are smart enough to not judge you for how you're doing as a d-mom. You, my friend, rock in that department!

  11. ((((Big Hugs)))
    I sometimes people would just think before they speak. Like I always say the hardest part about living with T1D is not all the needles, and counting carbs and sleepless's dealing with prejudice and ignorance and feeling alone sometimes bc of that.
    Stay strong! you're an amazing mom!

  12. Oh Meri - I so get it. The judgment and the angst. You were spot on when you said they mostly just don't get the effort and time and energy you put into control, they only see the number right then and there. Then they judge it. I wish there were a different way. I wish it made us all feel less judged.

    Know that here in the arms of your online DOC, it's no-judgment zone. We are all just doing the best we can. Every single day. Then we get up and do it again.

    You are a fantastic mom who is raising 4 great boys. Let that be your judgment in life. The rest can just fall away. We know how super you are, each and every day, my friend.

  13. I agree, no one understands unless they are living it. School does bring out our insecurities, at least it does in me too. (((hugs))) friend!

  14. I know this is easier said than done, but try not to let others, who have neither the right to judge nor the expertise or experience from which to judge, get you down. That being said, I will admit to having similar reactions and emotions.

    Your boys could not have a better, more loving, more caring mother! You take terrific care of them!!!!

  15. This is a hard one for us all, for sure. I know that for myself some of the guilt is directly because others don't get it and do judge me and part of it is my projection of never doing quite well enough myself (although in sane moments I know this is not true).
    The cure? Do exactly what you have done and reach out to all those who live it and know exactly how super fab and wonderful a Mum you are.
    I, for one, feel like wearing a "Team Meri" T-shirt most days.

  16. You are not alone. You are not judged. And nothing is your fault. You ARE doing a wonderful job at raising your boys!!!!! I know--it's so frustrating!

  17. omg...i cant believe you deal with three children with type 1...i am a support aunt and have my neice 3 or 4 hours a day who is type is exhausting...i dont know how my sister does it...all of you mothers are superwoman....

  18. I feel you.

    Lady at church called me to come see about Sweetpea last week. She had beeped double arrows down. The lady checked dex and she was 322. Breakfast peak. She was coming down fast - like she does. I knew she'd be in range soon. But the lady, T2 of course, was VERY concerned because that was "JUST SO HIGH". I felt judged. I wanted to say - But you don't understand what T1 is like and what's it's like in a 4 year old.

    But I saved my breath because she won't get it. It's hard to accept that. Some people just don't. They will think what they think. We just have to know that we ROCK.

    But I know.... it's hard.

  19. Ha! When I get a call from either school nurse (1 middle, 1 elementary) about an out-of-range number, I always feel like they are suprised to see such a number. It's as if (even though we've discussed it many times) they don't get that numbers won't be in the 100-120 range. I've pretty much given up on the 'here's why that might be happening' shpiel. I have 2 great nurses, willing to work with us and stay in touch with me despite all their daily duties, so I try to bite my tongue to keep from snapping back. That's my tradeoff ;)


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