A little over a week ago...On Joe's last day of Third Grade and his last day at Hiawatha Elementary School...
Written and folded into a paper airplane by Joe's School Nurse:
A 4 YEAR JOURNEY...
NEVER TO BE FORGOTTEN.
A SPECIAL STUDENT WHO TOUCHED MY LIFE!
A SPECIAL FAMILY WHO MOVED ME!
SOME OF THE LESSONS LEARNED: HOW TO BE BRAVE, SMARTER, PATIENT, KIND, HARD WORKING, FLEXIBLE, SAFE, A BETTER PERSON, A BETTER FRIEND, GOOD WITH NUMBERS, A BETTER READER, A BETTER NURSE AND A BETTER HUMAN BEING IN HAVING MY LIFE TOUCHED BY YOU JOE MAHER AND FAMILY!
THE LIST COULD GO ON...BUT I WANT THE PLANE TO FLY AND I WANT YOU TO FLY JOE, FLY ON IN LIFE AND COME BACK AND LET ME KNOW WHAT YOU BECOME SOMEDAY!
I would search the building for her. I would. My eyes would have to meet hers before I would leave him there; before I would leave Joe for his full days of Kindergarten. It was an unspoken thing. It was a security thing. It was a "I need to know my kid is gonna make it through the day alive" thing. The School Nurse was Joe's life-line, which in turn made her mine.
As many of you know, Joe was diagnosed with Type 1 when he was three years old. I had attended preschool with him for weeks, while the staff learned how to check blood sugars and to treat lows. I was present for daily snack times to dose Joe with Insulin, as the school ... and I ... were not ready for that responsibility shift. I had been Joe's pancreatic~shadow for two years prior to his Kindergarten year. I was not comfortable leaving him with many people, not even Dave. In hindsight, yes, I realize that this was not a "healthy choice" for myself, for Joe, or for my family. But, it was how it went down.
After reading the above, you can only begin to imagine the anxiety I experienced when sending Joe "away" for full day Kindergarten. To experience 7 hours away from Joe, from the numbers, from the "micromanaging", from the tweaking was a bit of a shock. Frankly, I cried for the first few days of school. Not sure if the tears were out of happiness, sadness, or fear ... or what. Perhaps they, the tears, were out of relief. It was a relief to have a break. It was a relief to not clock watch. It was a relief to not carb count. It was a relief to not bolus, to not worry about activity, to not throw test strips away, to not tote sugar sources. More importantly ... most importantly ... obviously ... It was a relief to know that he was in safe, capable, and in the most caring of hands.
As Joe matured and traversed the First, Second, and Third Grades he was supported in his growing independence in regards to his diabetes care in the school. I did not hover. I did not need to see the School Nurse before I was able to leave Joe at school. Eventually, I would just drop Joe and "Woodchuck" off at the curb. The School Nurse and the staff knew Joe; they knew diabetes. They cared for and nurtured Joe as a growing boy, student, and pancreas.
The School Nurse was integral in facilitating Joe's independence in a safe manner. She got it. She shifted and followed Joe's lead. For Joe to "fly" he needs to learn to manage diabetes safely and independently. He is well on his way thanks to you Mrs. C.
A day-in-the-life of "Thank You" just not seeming like quite enough.