Hello, friends of Better Living Technologies!
Rachel here, T1D since I was 6 years old and a current UT student. Something that has been on my heart this week is the importance of a dia-buddy!
This week, I started babysitting a young diabetic, and I realized how much I had forgotten about those beginning few years of having Type 1. We talked about shots, free snacks, and having to go to the nurse during school. Most importantly, I asked him if he had a diabetes buddy at his school, and thankfully, he said yes.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I was diagnosed when I was 6, so everything felt very complicated and scary- especially for my parents. Measures had to be put in place with my teachers, and we met with the school nurse to talk about my schedule for going to visit her before lunch and whenever I was not feeling well. The challenge is, that when you’re first starting out and are not yet in tune with your new diabetic body, you cannot always tell when your blood sugar is going too high or too low until it gets to an extreme. This is compounded by the fact that, post-diagnosis, you go through a “honeymoon phase” where your pancreas is, sort of, still giving insulin but not enough and very unpredictable! Needless to say, I needed a lot of supervision, even on the five-minute walk from class to the nurse.
Shortly after I was released from the hospital, we asked my friend Maria and her family for their help. We called upon these wonderful people to help bear the burden of this disease. Even though they had no contact with T1D prior to this they were more than willing to help with my care. Looking back, I guess that it was a lot to ask another first-grader to learn about my disease and be a little bit responsible for my wellbeing, but my friend took it completely in stride and became my nurse buddy for the next seven years. We would leave class ten minutes early, with other students giving us the evil eye for getting out of whatever first-graders do, and go to the nurse. It became so much more than just a nurse trip; we talked to the nurse about everything that was going on during the day and we grew to be close friends. We even had a little song we would sing while we were walking in the hallways. Then, after the finger prick and dutifully measured insulin, we would head off to lunch.
Occasionally, we would be VERY late for lunch. Sometimes because of low blood sugar where we had to sit down for fifteen minutes before being able to leave, sometimes because of a ketone check. Maria would have to wait for me to finish every little bite of my lunch, but she never complained. Even when other students were going to recess, she would sit with me and we would play games while I hurriedly ate all the premeasured carbohydrates.
We were put in all the same classes until we went to high school. To be honest, I probably did not really “need” a buddy after I got the insulin pump, but it was nice to be guaranteed classes with my best friend and diabetes buddy. To this day, she is still one of my closest friends, and now when I talk to her, I talk to her like I would talk to another diabetic. She knows all about site changes, injections, and embarrassing ketone urinalysis, and she made me feel like my diabetes wasn’t something that made me stick out like a sore thumb, but just another part of my childhood.
Thanks for reading! I’m going to be writing in a loosely chronological order, so you can look forward to hearing about my insulin pump soon!