Hard to believe that on May 10th it will be Joey’s 5th Diaversary! When Joey was diagnosed on Mother’s Day someone said that from this day forward you will associate Mother’s Day with Joey’s diagnosis. I didn’t believe it.
Guess what, it’s true! Every year as Mother’s Day approaches I thin of that day, can visualize it like it was yesterday. Not that I let it ruin my day, but it is in the back of my mind.
Joey was in 2nd grade at the time of his diagnosis. As I think back I remember the last month of 2nd grade as vividly as I do his diagnosis. It shook both his teacher and me to our cores! She was scared so I found myself trying to comfort her. I called my daughter several times a day, she was “my person” in the beginning. Even Joey would say “call Jenny,” when we were struggling to understand Type 1.
After Joey’s couple days off of school, the absolute best thing we did was walk back into school armed with Rufus the Bear, and the book called Rufus Comes Home, a book about a bear with type 1 diabetes. We read the book to his classmates, let them pass Rufus around and we opened it up for questions. Remember the kids were only 8 years old, but they had good questions. You could tell that their parents talked to them about diabetes, and it was obvious that even their parents didn’t have a clue.
The first question was “is diabetes contagious?” Then there was the “did he get diabetes from eating to much sugar?” “Can Joey still play baseball?” Next we showed the kids how Joey would prick his finger for a blood sugar measurement. They asked if it hurt.
I was impressed as I left school that day. None of the kids ever looked at Joey differently after that! We did good, and it was because Joey was ok with sharing T1D with his classmates. He started with these kids in 4K, so he was very comfortable with them.
I have talked to a lot of parents whose kids didn’t tell anyone about their diagnosis, even as they returned to school after being out a week! What I have learned from our situation is that everyone knows about the diagnosis as it is happening! Joey was diagnosed at home by my daughter, on a Sunday. (Mother’s Day) I called my friend who is a Pediatrician, he told us that because of the Swine Flu outbreak, Children’s Hospital’s waiting room was insane! Even though they would take us right back to a room, it was still risky because of all the germs. So we waited until the next day and went to our Pediatrician. She officially diagnosed Joey and set up our educational classroom sessions at CHW for the very next morning. We went for two mornings in a row, then on Wednesday Joey asked us if he could return to school that afternoon to sing in his Spring Concert.
Of course we let him but when we were driving home he said “all the kids are asking me why I was out of school and some said that I have Diabetes!” I asked him how he responded: “I told them – NO, I don’t!” That’s when we made the decision to share his diagnosis with his classmates. Once we came clean there wasn’t anything to talk about! No whispering behind his back! In fact, his friends would fight over who was going to be Joey’s buddy for the week. That special person would walk with Joey to the health room to dose for lunch and check his blood sugar before recess. All of his friends wanted that gig!
I don’t have a lot of memories of 3rd-6th grade! Except that at our classroom meetings where all the parents were there to meet the teacher, I would get up and tell everyone that Joey has T1 and it would really help if they could shoot me an email if they were going to send in a Birthday treat, so I would know how to dose. The parents were wonderful!
At the beginning of 7th grade Joey asked me if he could stop calling me at lunchtime. He would call and give me his number and what was for lunch and I would give him the carb count. It didn’t take long to figure out that most lunches were between 65-80 carbs! It was Joey’s way of declaring independence from me!
I had to cut the strings! 7th grade! Can I do it? He had proved to me that he was ready, and very good at taking care of himself!
So now it’s been 5 years! I am so proud of him, he never looks back, always forward, and always with a smile on his face!