Back to school is one of the most stressful times for a parent whose child has type 1 diabetes for many reasons. So when our JDRF outreach committee came together to discuss what topic out next event will be we decided that a back to school night was very much needed. This event was planed to help educate the T1 parents on things that they can do to make their child's school year less stressful and safe.
But before I discuss our back to school event I wanted to go through some issues that effects ever T1 parent in our school board.
1. Misconception: With all the misconceptions and misinformed that surrounds us in the general public, type 1 diabetes is not seen as a serous life treating disease...which if you read my blog you know that it is. Therefore people and school staff do not see type 1 diabetes for the real monster it truly is. Again most teachers get type 1 confused with type 2, they may share a name and some end complications but they are nothing a like when it comes to living and treatment of this disease...they are completely different. These misconceptions are very dangerous for a T1 child, one wrong move and a T1 child can be visiting a hospital room or worse.
2. Lack of type 1 diabetes education: The lack of type 1 education within our schools is atrocious, there is no reason why staff should not be educated about this life treating disease that our children are facing every day of their lives. They educate school staff on food allergies and what to do in an emergency and in fact they have life saving medicine for these children at school....so why the hell can they not do it for our T1's?? Not one staff member of a school that has a child with type 1 diabetes needs to learn how to care for a child with type 1. We are not allowed to bring life saving medicine called glucagon into the schools because no one knows how to use them....well teach them!! All they can do in the case of an emergency is call 911 and wait...ridiculous. They have no idea what ketoacidosis (DKA) or hypoglycemia is, all very serious conditions. They don't understand what low or high blood sugar is, what it looks like and what to do about it or how it effects our children. There is NO education!!
3. No 504 plan or any school standardized policy for that matter. There is no standardized plan or any legislation for children with type 1 in our school system. It is all up to the principal and the teacher to determine to what extent they will work with the parents of a T1 child to make the classroom as safe as possible.
4. There are NO nurses that permanently work within our schools. A referral from a type 1's endocrinologist goes out to a community care office who then contacts a nursing agency who then assigns a nurse to that child. The nurses stays no longer then 15 mins in the school in most cases and in our experience just because you start off with one nurse does not mean you will have that nurse until the end of the school year. I believe Cara had about 10 different nurses through out the school year. I called it the revolving door of nurses and that was not the end of our problems with the nursing staff. We had a nurse not show up who did not call the school, me or a replacement to cover her shift leaving Cara and the untrained staff at the school to fend for themselves. We also had some of these nurse come to school with a very very limited knowledge of type 1 diabetes care. We had a few nurses that needed a little help from our 13 year old daughter on how to use a meter, a basic diabetic tool. We had another nurse call our clinic because Cara had some high blood sugar readings and she did not think that we were doing our job right.
The fact is that telling a parent that a nurse is coming into the school to take care of their T1 child then having the many issues that we and many others face leaves parents with a false sense of security which could be deadly.
With all this being said there are still some places in Canada who do not even have nurses coming into the schools to help with the needs of their T1 kids. I am thankful for the nurses that we do have BUT things just need to change. Just because some people have it worse off then we do does not make our situation OK. Lets just say a woman's husband punches her in the face BUT right next door to them another woman's husband stabbed his wife in the leg is the husband who punched his wife in the face better then the other? NO they both NEED to go to jail!! Do you get my point...
So every time someone tells me that we are lucky to have these nurses I understand BUT it does not make our situation any better.
Sorry I got a little off topic however my point is... as you see the problems in our school system are tremendous and these are just the top 4 issues there are many many more. So we thought that as an outreach group we could address and help parents navigate through these issues in their schools with our Back To School Event....so stay tuned for my Back To School Night Part 2....The event post.