If you are a mother, your stomach probably turns with reading those two small words. Junior High is considered one of the hardest years in a child’s life…and I can imagine why. I get to see the physical, emotional and spiritual repercussions from hormonal fluctuations more so than any parent of a typically ‘healthy’, free of chronic illness child. With Type 1 Diabetes I have been given a pretty darn clear picture of the toll it takes on your body minute to minute and often times catch myself putting it all together in an ‘Ah-Ha!’ moment from simply dissecting Blood glucose trends among other obvious observations. I get to see my child growing up from a whole new perspective and gain much more appreciation for what it is their bodies, minds and beliefs (to some degree) are going through. It opens a whole new world.
This intro brings me to our next chapter in life…Junior High. With only mere weeks away from sending my child to what some may consider the ‘depths of hell’ I am on edge. I am in preparation mode. On top of the typical supplies needed for school I am gathering the supplies needed to keep my child alive while in school. In addition to figuring out her schedule, which friends are in her class, when lunch will be, new policies or rules, making sure her required vaccinations are up to date I am mapping her daily routine for easy access to quick carbs, preparing each classroom for lows and emergencies, packing back up supplies to be left with the nurse, preparing my education materials for all faculty and staff for our meeting on meeting her immediate medical needs in emergencies, setting plans for her service dog to attend to help watch over her, prepping myself for the separation and the fear that goes along with it, preparing for IEP plan to include her medical, testing and service dog needs. I am going minute to minute revising, planning, prepping, revising more, adding, changing, managing, etc everything to make transition into Junior High as smooth as possible and my daughter healthy and prepared. It isn’t easy. It isn’t fun…It is nerve-racking, heart breaking, faith invoking.
I normally would be having fun picking out supplies, clothes shopping, care free, prepping my child for changes and expectations during Junior High and being care free. Add to the typical challenge each child experiences, the need to manage a chronic serious disease such as type 1 diabetes and you can imagine the exciting things we should be feeling/doing really does take the back seat. Doctor orders are for her to manage everything on her own because she is capable of doing so and knows the ins and outs of her pump, orders, T1D, etc. and at any point if needed we can change this if she feels overwhelmed (which I really only hover and educate and help make big decisions at this point). From day 1 we have been educating her on this disease, its effects, spotting trends, correction factors, insulin to carb ratios and reasoning behind them, how to count carbs, etc…from day 1 we have set a standard and have kept that standard…it doesn’t mean she hasn’t tested this or protested this standard…she is a teenager…and teenagers know everything, right?
As scared and hesitant as I am I cannot help but celebrate this separation. This is something pretty big for us, much responsibility for her, but also something that means a lot to her. She is witnessing her conquering diabetes and doing WHAT she WANTS…not what diabetes defines. There is much to celebrate when we can move past road blocks thrown our way and learn to live and work around them. There is much to celebrate when you see your child excelling in her care, her independence growing (but not too quickly) and her walking with confidence. Much to celebrate when I know she has friends surrounding her that love her, care about her and will be watching out for her if ever she needs helps. She has a group of friends who probably know more about emergent care then some parents…friends whose parents support this knowledge and help harvest and embrace it. There is much to be celebrated when you can just live, even when type 1 tries to hold you back…much to celebrate when nothing stands in her way.
This year will be a milestone in her life. Independent at school, Junior High, her service dog attending with her and she is main handler in control. This is a huge shift in her life and in her schedule. A huge shift that her endo thinks she will best care for herself than a school nurse ever could, a huge shift that she will have her life saver with her so this mother doesn’t worry about her walking around in the 30s on the verge of seizing, passing out, etc unknowingly (which is typical for her) because of hypoglycemia unawareness. This. Is. Huge.
Now if only I can survive the teen years.