|Countdown for Kids|
by Robert Dinsmoor
|Let's face it,
your school rules probably weren't made with kids with
diabetes in mind. Like, if you're not allowed to eat in
class, what are you going to do if you have low blood
sugar? Will they let you test in class, or do you have to
go to the nurse's office? What about injections?
"Those are issues for your parents and the school, but they kind of filter down to what you need to do, too," says Jean Betschart, a diabetes educator who works with diabetic children in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
She says the key to making things run smoothly is to iron it all out with your parents and teacher ahead of time. In other words, you've got to have a plan.
Many schools have policies against letting kids test their blood in class. After all, these days people are very concerned about touching other people's blood. But you might be allowed to test in class, either at your desk or at a special place in the back of the classroom -- if you do it responsibly.
This means cleaning up all the supplies, especially the bloody strips and tissues and the lancet. Some kids find that old test strip bottles are a safe and convenient place to put them.
Will you need to take an insulin injection at school? Your doctor might be able to work out your schedule so you don't. If you do take an injection during school hours, you'll probably have to keep the supplies in the health office. If you're not yet able to draw up your own insulin dose, your parents can draw up different doses and the nurse can call them to find out which one to use.
In some schools, kids must keep their insulin in the nurse's office, but this varies from school to school. If you want to be in control of your own injections, be responsible: Be low key about them, and dispose of your syringes properly.
|Sports? No Sweat!
Being active can help you manage your diabetes if you learn to do it right. If you sign up for a team, you'll need to tell your coach you have diabetes, and your parents will need to tell the coach how to spot and deal with low blood sugar. You'll also want to have candy or juice on hand in case you have low blood sugar, and check your blood sugar before you start.
For really strenuous sports, like football, track, or hockey, you and your parents should talk to the doctor about adjusting your insulin dosage.
One of the most important things you can do is tell your parents when there's going to be a special event, like a field trip or a school assembly, says Ms. Betschart. Events like these can delay lunch or keep you from getting your usual snack which can set you up for low blood sugar.
The more involved you are with your own care, the more you'll feel in control of the situation. You can help make the rules rather than just follow them.
Should You Tell Your Friends?
Some kids will first find out you have diabetes when they see you testing your blood, injecting insulin, or eating a snack to treat low blood sugar, and that's a perfect chance to tell them about diabetes, even if they're scared to ask you about it.
The more they know about diabetes, the less they will bug you when you eat a snack ("You shouldn't be eating a cookie -- you have diabetes!") or give you a hard time when you have to step out of the classroom.
One way to get it out in the open is to do a class presentation at the beginning of the school year. Dr. Mary Simon, a diabetes expert who works with kids in California, says that even though you may feel weird about it, most kids think it's pretty cool.
Whether you like school or not, one thing is for sure: Going back this fall means big changes for your routine. But a little planning and the right attitude can make it a breeze.
Copyright © 1996 Juvenile Diabetes
Foundation International. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.
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