We truly feel so blessed with the team of individuals that cared for Natalie every day this year. I know this is not the case in all private schools and am especially grateful after hearing that a small Christian school in my hometown of St. Louis denied a child with t1d to attend their school (SHAME ON THEM!). Natalie loves the school she attends with Jacob and we are so thankful she can reap the same benefits that Jacob does from attending there.
When Natalie started 1st grade, she had only been wearing the Omnipod insulin pump for 3 weeks, so I was terrified of how everything would work out. Since the omnipod is tubeless and wireless, it can alarm and deactivate when it detects that something is not working properly. I feared pods alarming at all times and having to rush to the school to put on a new one. I am happy to say that we only had 2 pods that alarmed and both happened while she was playing on the playground. I think they alarmed due to static. It's just one of those things with the pod. So.. ..for a while I sprayed her with anti static spray when she got out of the car! Now I just keep a sheet of bounce in the box of pods, and so far, we haven't had too many issues. We did have another one alarm right as we were walking out the door for her first soccer game, but I changed that pod in record time and we still arrived early and her blood sugars even cooperated for the entire game.
I volunteered in Natalie's class every Friday morning and once after the kids went out to play, two girls came in and told me that Natalie's pod was hurting her and she could not walk. Yep, I was panicking on the inside. I went out to find her sitting under the playground, crying and holding her leg and refusing to walk. I had to pull her out and carry her inside to check her pod. There was some blood around the cannula, which is not out of the ordinary, but I feared an infection since she was in so much pain. Her blood sugars were great so it was working, but I ended up taking her home to remove it and put a new one on. As I carried her to the van, all the kids were so concerned and asking me if she was okay and saying goodbye to Natalie. She waved to everyone and yelled, "I'll be back! I'll be back!" It was SO cute!! I am sure it is a major pain for a 7 year old to deal with pods alarming at school and checking her blood sugar in front of 20 other students, but she handles it all so well. I am not so sure I would have liked all the extra attention at her age. She has no problem telling kids to mind their own business if she doesn't want them watching. She doesn't seem to mind a couple particular boys watching her check her blood sugar, but if a particular girl tries to watch she just puts her folder up on her desk and blocks her from watching. She has to deal with this the rest of her life, so I say do what you gotta do Natalie! The first time her pod alarmed at school she said she heard something but didn't realize it was her pod right away....she said she just thought a fire truck was following her around the playground! I got a good laugh out of that one!
Despite those couple of issues with the pod, we would never give up her insulin pod! It truly was life changing for Natalie this year. It made her feel as "normal" as possible and she could enjoy snacks, parties and special events without a shot this year. No more peanuts and cheese for her at morning snack time!
It seems like so long ago, but Natalie's teacher was on maternity leave back in October for about a month. Well wouldn't you know it that her substitute teacher had an understanding of t1d as well. She happened to have chronic low blood sugar issues and had to check her own blood sugar through out the day. So she had a basic understanding of the appropriate blood sugar ranges and quickly learned what kind of snack Natalie needed before recess to keep her from dropping too low. She also helped her become more independent and encouraged her to check her own blood sugar in the classroom.
Mrs. Gray still handled bolusing (administering insulin through her pod) for both her morning snack and lunch. Natalie enjoyed picking a buddy every day to walk with her to Mrs. Gray's class at snack time. Natalie enjoyed the attention and that everyone always put their hand up to be her buddy. She once said she was trying to give everyone a chance, but I think she picked a particular boy more often than everyone else! I learned that at one point, Natalie had a pretty good routine going for herself. When she felt low in the afternoons and checked her own blood sugar, one boy told the teacher what her blood sugar was and another boy went and got her snack box! Eddie was less than thrilled to learn of this!
When there were special treats, Mrs. Gray came over to estimate the carbs and bolus, but Mrs. Murphy quickly learned to look up carb counts on her phone and bolus for treats. We experienced a new level of independence this year not just for Natalie but for me as well. Last year, if Mrs. Gray was not at school, I had to sub for her because no one else could check her sugar or give her a shot. This year since we added Mrs. Murphy to the team she was fine to fill in for Mrs. Gray. Mrs. Gray and Mrs. Murphy are such a gift to me and give me just a little break during the day and more importantly peace of mind that she is in great hands while at school. Mrs. Gray wrote Natalie the sweetest note and said "It makes me happy but also sad that you didn't need me as much this year and probably even less next year! But, those are the plans that God has for you and He knows best!" I told her to not think she is being relieved of her duties so quickly...I expect her to care for Natalie all through 5th grade!
One of the blessings of being the mom of a child with t1d is I don't miss out on too much that is going on in her class. I attended every field trip and class party. I truly enjoy being part of all these special moments and not missing a thing. Well, I would be okay with missing the bus ride to and from the field trips! Time is going by so fast and I know these days won't last forever, so I treasure all this extra time I get to spend with her.
Natalie received the character trait award of Responsibility this year which I think is quite fitting for how far she has come this year. She has become so much more confident this year. While she still made me walk her in every day this year, there were days she let me leave before she went in the class and did not panic. She has come along way from where she was when she was diagnosed and even last year in Kindergarten. I am so proud of her!
I also have to mention how well Jacob did his first year of middle school. It was a huge adjustment being in a different building, with multiple classes and teachers, but he did wonderfully. He even played on the JJV baseball team and was one of only two 6th graders called up to play in the final JV games and he played the entire games! He did well academically too and received an award for making the Honor Roll all four quarters. He also received a special award for "Consistent Testimony" for having a genuine interest in the Lord and being consistent in his walk. I am so proud of him too!
Oh, and how can I forget....while at our JDRF Walk to Cure back in October, one of our friends noticed that one of the 2nd grade teacher's was also at the walk. I recognized her, but had never met her. Well, it turns out she attends the walk every year because her daughter's best friend has t1d and she often spends the night at her house and she told me she knows how to work her pump, count carbs and bolus! Now you know when someone uses the word "bolus" that they really do understand t1d! My eyes filled up with tears right then. Only a month or so into the school year and God already made it know to me that he had provisions worked out for Natalie for the NEXT school year! I'd like to know who He has lined up for 3rd, 4th and 5th, but I am trying to be patient!
1st day of 6th and 1st grade on left and last day on the right.
Pitching in one of his JJV games.