I have hemmed and hawed about presenting and writing about this situation and asking for advice from the DOC (Diabetic Online Community) because I have a suspicious feeling the answers and suggestions will be biased.
Because you love me ;). And because I read all your blogs and know you are caring, compassionate moms and dads and individuals who are adamant and passionate about the proper feeding and care of T1 diabetes.
I am going to present a hypothetical situation and I ask you respond with advice, suggestions and opinions based on not knowing the family involved.
Answer from your heart and experience, please.
Biddy, an 8yo 3rd grader, is diagnosed with T1 diabetes in late September. She demonstrates immediate responsibility by pricking her own finger and administering her own insulin by injection from the first Dr. appointment and on. Her parents adjust to the new way of life with bumps and bruises, but with the help of family, friends and an online community, they are getting along quite well.
Biddy's school is fabulous. They have a full-time nurse, experience with another T1 student and her teacher is comfortable with Biddy's care plan. Everyone is on board and an open door policy both allows and encourages the parents and school to develop an individual action plan for Biddy.
One day Biddy brings home a note from school with information regarding a field trip with her class to attend a play, off campus and out of the city's limit. The school will provide bused transportation and admittance into the Civic Center for the performance. No chaperone's are requested.
The mother happily signs the permission slip and proceeds to contact the school, requesting she go along with the class so she can provide medical assistance for her daughter. The school nurse will not be attending, nor will any other T1 diabetic trained persons be on the bus or at the show. The school agrees to let the mother attend the performance, but she is requested to drive herself and meet the group there.
The mother is happy to be able to go, but wants to ride the bus with her daughter. The school would like Biddy to carry her supplies and self-treat if feeling 'low'. The mother questions whether it is safe to self-check a blood sugar on a moving school bus filled with loud children. The school nurse states Biddy will not need to check her glucose, just treat for a low.
"Isn't the first rule of a 'low' to get help from another person because the symptoms of the low itself render the individual impaired to make a good decision?" asks the mother.
Back and forth goes the conversation between the school and the parents. The parents want their daughter to feel secure that Mom is there to help if needed. The school insists Biddy is old enough to follow a care plan. They want the experience to be educational, and for Biddy to be able to "grow" and be independent. They insist this is an opportunity for Biddy to be responsible.
While the parents agree on all these points, they remind the school Biddy IS independent in much of her health care needs, and while she has shown great intuition at reading her body's signals for blood sugar imbalance, it doesn't mean she will be able to do it 100 percent of the time. They also point out it has been less than 3 months since diagnosis and Biddy is still in the throws of the 'honeymoon' phase of the disease.
Besides, the parents are seeking a balance between responsible self-care and still being a child. The nature of a T1 diagnosis already strips the child of a care-free life, and responsibility pours on them quickly and swiftly. The parents want to provide Biddy with support AND freedom.
The mother also is quick to point out to the school that she is not intending to set a president, or be 'that' kind of mom who hovers and can't 'let go.' Besides, she feels she is offering for the school to release all liability for this trip, allowing the teachers to be available for everyone, not just focusing on Biddy's medical care. Mom will be there to do it tend to her daughter's needs.
Arguments persist. The school states they are fine with Mom attending the plat, but feel it is not necessary for her to ride the bus. (They state it will only be a 20 minute ride there 20 minutes back ....... Mom and Dad think that is plenty of time for a medical emergency). Mom and Dad decide it is all or nothing. Either Mom is allowed to attend the event AND ride the bus in both directions or Mom signs Biddy out of school for the duration of the field trip.
In the end, the school agrees to allow Mom to ride the bus. Reluctantly. By the sound of the voice of the nurse, they are not happy with the decision and feel pushed to go against the district rules.
The family is satisfied with the outcome, but Mom feels like a target is now on her back and she is not exited about showing up at school for the field trip knowing people are unhappy with the decision.
Finally, Mom and Dad discuss the situation later that night, and decide it is time to write a 504 plan.
Still with me?
Grab some coffee, think it over and please offer your comments.