In one sense we were lucky, Arden was diagnosed so early in life that we had years to prepare for her first day of school. I’ll never forget sitting in a carb class at the hospital where Arden was diagnosed and thinking that some of the kids in that room were starting school in two weeks... they had two weeks to figure all of this out and then off to school where they would be asking a stranger care for their diabetes before they even knew what that meant. I was very scared by that idea.
So how did we prepare? The minute our son Cole returned to school in 2006 I made sure his teacher knew about Arden. I brought her up in conversation with the principal and the nurse so that somewhere in the back of their minds they knew she was coming. I wanted it to get around that Arden would be there in a few years. At this time there were zero type I kids at Ardens school.
Fast-forward to the beginning of the 2008 school year. I placed a call to the principal of the school Arden would be attending in 2009. We had a 20 minute conversation about Arden, type I and our expectations of her care. Again, just to keep the germ of a thought in everyone’s mind. By this time there were three type I kids at the school... in a few months Arden will make number 4.
So to re-cap. Step one was to open the lines of communication between our family and the school. Partially, to make sure that expectations were understood but also so that when school did start and we were all in the heat of the moment that there wouldn’t be any misunderstandings that may lead to hard feelings on any side. I maintain that good communication and a healthy amount of empathy on both sides for the other will make for a good experience. Everyone has a job to do, we are protecting Arden and the school has guidelines to follow. Either side being upset with the other would be very problematic and as much as anyone would like to believe that these situations won’t become cantankerous, they often do. And those problems can be difficult to come back from and would be destructive to Arden’s health.