School Trips and Diabetes Can Be A Challenge
Especially overnight school trips with diabetes.
It’s 2019 and my son is halfway through the 5th grade in his American curriculum at school here in Dubai. Next year, middle school. How is it even possible that he has grown so much? I guess parents always ask this question.
This morning I attended a meeting at my son’s school. His entire grade is going on an overnight camping trip on the other side of the UAE for one night. The kids are all pretty excited about it, and it is a kind of rite of passage for them.
But this will be his first overnight trip with no one who has experience in diabetes.
Kids With Diabetes and Overnight Stays
My son has had one sleepover at a friend’s house before. That friend’s mom was once his school nurse and has so much clinical experience and dedication it was a no-brainer to let him stay.
For the camping trip, his school is not sending one of the school nurses with them, but will subcontract a nurse from a company.
Now I am sure that this nurse has some clinical experience, but just how much remains to be seen. And while the average school nurse may not know everything about Type 1, they would at least have some familiarity with the children who attend their school.
I have so many things to tell this new nurse, and so many questions to ask. Has she had any experience in managing Type 1 Diabetes?
There are even medical doctors who are naïve and think it is the same thing as Type 2 Diabetes. It is not. People with Type 1 and Type 2 are very different patients with very different needs.
Being Scared and Being Brave Are Two Sides of the Same Coin
I was chatting with two moms after the school meeting. One I had not met before.
When she learned that my son has Type 1 Diabetes and I planned to send him on this trip, she commended me on how brave I am and what I good parent I am to let him fly.
Oh how I wish I did not have to be brave.
Even more, I wish that my son did not have to be braver.
I don’t have much of a choice because that is what we have to do as parents, right? No matter what kind of “luck” we have been dealt, it is our job to teach our kids how to get through it and live normal lives coexisting with it.
I politely thanked the mom. She too had allowed her son with an allergy head off to a remote area in an African country, and I commended her for that. While she felt my situation was so bad compared to hers – to the point she said she was not sure that she would let her child go on the trip in my case – I do not think any of these situations are easy.
What I did not tell that mom is I am scared as ffffrench fries.
It’s Not Just Parents Who Feel the Fear
I just looked up for a nicer way to write scared as “you know what” and words like fearful and anxious came up. Trust me, it’s way more than a little fear.
And you mamas know. If you have ever sent your child with some kind of allergy or dangerous chronic condition into the unknown, you know what I’m talking about.
When the discussion of the trip first came up, my son told me that he did not want to go.
When I asked why, his response was, “Because there will be no one to help me with my diabetes at night.”
This thing has stolen so much of the carefree innocence of childhood from my son and his fellow Type 1s.
And there it is. It did it again. Another carefree moment gone. Another crack in my heart.
There could be a million other reasons to keep him at home, but I refuse to let Type 1 Diabetes be the reason he does not go on this overnight school trip, despite how frightening and serious this disease really is.
I had a chat with his teacher and she is prepared to take this thing on with me. Which is very heartwarming. And I have no doubt she will do her best to make sure he has a great time. She has lived this thing with him this year and wants him to enjoy it, too.
And for that I am so grateful, but I am still scared as fffrench fries.
5 Essentials for Managing Type 1 Diabetes at School
Relieve some of the anxiety you feel whenever your child with Type 1 Diabetes heads to school for the day.
You'll find tips on educating the teacher and nurse, making emergency snack boxes, traveling on the school bus and more.