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Back to School, The Diabetes Version

It’s time for all the little kids, big kids and college kids to go back to school.  For some however, there is the diabetes version of going back to school.  Thinking back in my own life, this was the time of the year that football had just started so I was so excited to see all of my friends again and start playing sports also.  It was also time to go to the Reading Outlets in Reading, PA where it was school shopping central.  Going to the Jansport outlet store was the hottest place because I obviously needed a new backpack for the coming school year.  And not just any backpack, but one that nobody else had.  Then it was off to K-Mart to get notebooks, pencils, folders then eventually Wal-Mart, but Wal-Mart didn’t open in my area until I was in 5th or 6th grade.  Finally, it was the morning of the first day of school.  Time to get dressed in all your nice new clothes and new shoes and stand next to my brother because my mom had to take a picture.

Growing up as a child I didn’t have to worry about much other than making sure my homework was done and making sure that I was at football practice and learning all of my new plays.  As I grew up and went through high school the basics stayed the same, however some things became a little different.  Didn’t care about the backpack, stopped going to Reading Outlets because they decided to shut them down, sad sad story by itself.  Then it was off to freshman year of college.  Wow, was that totally different.  Now it just wasn’t about going to Wal-Mart for notebooks, but to Wal-Mart for a fridge, futon, and other neat college dorm supplies.  But everything changed that April night in 2004.  Diabetes had entered my life and now preparing for the next school year became a lot different.

As I entered my second year of college, it wasn’t just all about remembering my textbook and notebook for class.  It now required me to remember my meter, strips, insulin pen, a few pen needles, alcohol pads, some candy in case of a low and an emergency card.  Paying attention in class at times had become a lot more difficult as well, especially when my sugar would start to get lower.  So as most people are taking notes while the teacher is talking, I am pulling out this weird machine that beeps and makes people look at you because you’re making noise and then digging through my bag trying to find that bag of Skittles that I put in there this morning, or did I forget them today?

I finished my last 4 years of college, yes I was on the 5 year plan, with diabetes and I wouldn’t have it any other way.  It forced me to accept my diabetes and share it.  I had about 8 different roommates in that span of 2 years of living on campus and it all started out the same way.  “Hi, I’m Chris, and I’m diabetic.  This is where my sugar supply is. This is what to do if I get low.”  It also gave me the opportunity to introduce diabetes into the lives of 8 people who otherwise had no clue what it was.  I was even lucky enough to sit next to 2 other diabetics in some classes that I had.  One on an insulin pump and one on MDI.  It was great to be able to talk to them and see them test their sugar, so that way there was 2 weird people in the class now.

As I watch my girlfriend, Amanda, get ready for school this morning (she is a teacher) I think about how different my life would have been growing up with diabetes.  Would I have been the same person that I am today?  I would like to think that it would have just made me a stronger person and mature at a lot faster age.  Since I wasn’t diagnosed until my freshman year of college, I never experienced diabetes in elementary school or middle school.  As I read some other blogs about parents taking their kids to school and making sure every teacher knows and nurse knows etc, I truly respect you for what you go through on a daily basis.  Obviously my future children run the risk of becoming diabetic, so I may one day have to deal with it, but until then, I will continue to learn from others how to deal with the school year coming around.

On the bright side of things, I would really like to hear some funny stories about diabetes and going back to school.  We always here the bad about diabetes, but let’s share some funny ones.  If you have any, please comment, I would love to hear them.

I wish you all a day better than yesterday, hope your blood sugars are under 150 all day.