Nov 022012
 

Did you know November is diabetes awareness month? My son, Caleb, has type 1 diabetes. In case you were wondering:

  • Depending on how you look at it, 5 to about 15 percent of people with diabetes have type 1.
  • Type 1 used to be called juvenile onset. Because adults are increasingly being diagnosed, that handle has been dropped.
  • We didn’t cause Caleb’s diabetes. Type 1 is an autoimmune disease. You can’t prevent it; you can’t cure it.
  • My son can eat anything you can eat. He just has to take insulin for every carb.
  • When a person with diabetes has a high blood sugar level, he or she feels irrational and may be very grumpy. They can’t help it; please don’t judge them.
  • Overnight low blood sugar can be fatal.
  • We know about natural remedies and supplements, miracle diets, and more. Caleb takes several supplements, including chromium and Vitamin D. We exercise, eat heaps of raw veggies, and hope it all helps.

Our diabetes journey has traversed hidden corners of suffering much worse than ours. In various waiting rooms, I have heard the roar of medical machines rudely interrupt the happy sounds of childhood. Tragic stories about disabilities and disease hit much closer to home now. Having a child with a lifelong, incurable, but manageable disease has given me empathy for those who can’t hope for a normal life for their children. I’m inexpressibly thankful for the discovery of insulin, which saved my son’s life decades before he was born. (You can read my gratitude post here.)

 

Type 1 diabetes doesn’t stop my son from pursuing his interests.

Caleb had a bout with double vision last academic year. This was not a serious, long-term complication of diabetes; he isn’t long-term enough. It was just an effect of his lenses struggling with fluctuating blood sugar levels. The most careful control of diet, exercise, and carb intake can’t prevent blood sugar fluctuations; they’re just life with a confused immune system that beats up your pancreas.

Caleb’s diabetes supplies take up two shelves! We are so grateful to have them.

We visited three doctors and tried several pairs of glasses, over a period of several months. Finally, the issue was resolved – but not before it had impacted Caleb’s schoolwork. He persevered, sometimes substituting DVDs for books, sometimes shoving a cheap pair of reading glasses over his regular, prism-filled glasses. It was a frustrating process, and the lost time had to be recovered during the summer. I’m proud of Caleb’s courage and patience, which culminated in some wonderful news: Eventually, he won’t need glasses at all!

Caleb injects a sensor under his skin, which beams his interstitial fluid glucose to his insulin pump every few minutes. Ouch! But it works!

Despite his double vision, overall Caleb did not fall behind in school. We dodged other bullets, too:

  • He didn’t have to explain to a skeptical teacher why he MUST drink a juice immediately.
  • No school staff took his insulin pump away for the day, dangerously assuming he didn’t need it.
  • He wasn’t kept waiting miserably for an insulin shot until his parent could be reached, because the staff didn’t trust him to give himself the shot.
  • I didn’t have to sit in a school parking lot for half a day, because a teacher wouldn’t risk giving him glucose tabs or shots.

We could have encountered any or all of these true life situations, but we didn’t.

Because we homeschool.

Do you or your child have type 1 diabetes? How’s it going?

By Columba Lisa Smith

  14 Responses to “Homeschooling with Type 1 Diabetes”

  1. My daughter is 13 years old and was diagnosed with t1d plus Celiac this spring. While I am not happy that she has this life-long dual challenge, I am thrilled to consider this as two more great reasons to home school! I don’t know the struggles we dodge. I never have and hopefully never will know those hurdles. We have enough.

    Please help keep Steer Me Right family safe. Report inappropriate comments.

    • I’m sorry your daughter has it, too, but as you say, it’s wonderful you are homeschooling. I don’t know how I would have made the adjustment had my son been in a conventional school setting. He’s still doing really well, almost two years after diagnosis. Homeschooling allows families to adjust to huge changes like this. We all learned about Caleb’s condition together. It is not easy at first, but hang in there. T1 is just a familiar part of the routine for us now. My son totally takes it in stride. Blessings to your family! – Lisa

      Please help keep Steer Me Right family safe. Report inappropriate comments.

  2. Your son sounds very mature and brave. And you sound like a great mom–helping him to manage his disease in a way that will eventually let him handle it on his own as an adult.

    Please help keep Steer Me Right family safe. Report inappropriate comments.

  3. My daughter has a friend with type 1, and his brother also has the disease. I wonder, is it inherited. Both his parents happen to be doctors so they have it under control, in fact it is now just a normal part of their kids lives. Best of luck to you and your son! I have no doubt he will be a great success in life…diabetes will not stop him!

    Please help keep Steer Me Right family safe. Report inappropriate comments.

  4. Awesome post! Thanks for homeschooling, I have homeschooled for 5 yrs now and love it! I will be praying for Caleb he is very strong to go through this journey! thanks so much for sharing with us!

    Please help keep Steer Me Right family safe. Report inappropriate comments.

  5. Wow! That’s a lot to handle. Glad you seem to be handling it very, very well.

    I think homeschooling is a great option for some families, I really do. I’m glad we live in a place where we have the option. But, I have to say, working in a public school, I’ve never heard of students experiencing the difficulties with staff as you mention- thank goodness! In fact, I co-facilitated a therapeutic group for students who have diabetes with our school nurse and I was incredibly impressed with how savvy and well adjusted each of the students were with managing their blood sugars and symptoms and staying on top of their health and well being, with the help of their families and school staff. Because truthfully, people want to help everywhere.

    Thanks for sharing your story. It was good to read.

    Please help keep Steer Me Right family safe. Report inappropriate comments.

    • That is absolutely wonderful to hear – thanks for sharing! It is good to know there is support for type 1 kids in the school system. I am sure many staff want to support these kids, but unfortunately here there seems to be a problem with legalities. No one wants to risk being sued by doing the wrong thing, and they don’t have the time or resources to train people adequately. That’s been my impression from the stories I’ve heard from other parents, anyway. Thanks for this encouraging comment!

      Please help keep Steer Me Right family safe. Report inappropriate comments.

  6. Caleb is such a strong and determined boy! I applaud him! :)

    Please help keep Steer Me Right family safe. Report inappropriate comments.

  7. Great to hear about you homeschooling. He has one of the best teachers which will be there for him. Most of the friends I know staying in USA all homeschool their kids too.

    Please help keep Steer Me Right family safe. Report inappropriate comments.

  8. I have been homeschooling for 12 plus years and I have one son with Type 1 Diabetes who was diagnosed in March 2007. We are very thankful for being able to homeschool and have such flexibility.

    Please help keep Steer Me Right family safe. Report inappropriate comments.

 Leave a Reply

(required)

(required)

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>