Friday, August 26, 2011

Preparing for Back to School

The nights are getting cooler and the air is crisp. Merchants are displaying Halloween items; apples are bountiful at the fruit stand. Autumn is approaching. This season change reminds us back-to-school time is quickly approaching.


Going back-to-school is an exciting time: crisp new notebooks to fill, long pencils to wear down to tiny nubs, and sharp crayons with which to create the next great masterpiece. School supply lists coming home from students' teachers are growing longer these days with things like highlighters, dry erase markers, tissues, washable markers, folders, glue sticks, scissors, a back pack, and sometimes a lunch box. 
A trip to Wal-Mart and everything on the list is checked off.
The school has mailed the bus list and we make a note of our child's bus number. 
We have everything right?

There is a lot of preparation that goes into getting ready for school, for students and teachers alike.
As well as the traditional school supplies, a parent of a child with juvenile diabetes must ready the supplies their child will need away from home.
It's important to be prepared for any situation that may arise while the child is at school. 
While some parents may live in close proximity to their child's school, many do not. Some parents work out of town and could not attend to their child's needs quickly. At times when every minute counts, have the necessities on hand for your child. Supplies are generally locked in the nurse's office and she will soon become your greatest ally and advocate for your child. Keep in close contact with her and let her know what a great job she is doing.
I would also suggest the items be delivered directly to the school nurse, rather than sent in a back-pack. For a child to carry lancets and needles is an invitation for a problem. Especially with curious young children riding the school bus.
I've compiled a checklist of items that should be included in the child's kit.

- Glucose meter (Generally, the pediatric endocrinologist will provide an extra meter for the school at no charge)
-Test strips (enough to last at least a month, to save on frequent trips to the school and the risk of running out.)
-Insulin (If using a pen, they need to be replaced every 30 days. If possible, send enough for a couple of months. The nurse's office is usually equipped with a mini fridge for storage of medications.)
-Needles (if using a pen.) Syringes (if vials are used.)
-Lancets (A box should last quite a while.)
- Ketone testing strips
-Glucose Tablets (for low blood sugar episodes)

-A Glucagon pen (This is used for extreme episodes of hypoglycemia, which can result in unconsciousness or seizures.)
-Snacks (Especially important for gym days and active days outside on the playground. The nurse will keep your child's supply in her office cabinet with your child's name on each item.)
Good snacks include cheese sticks, yogurt, juice boxes, crackers, and granola bars. 

If possible, stock up on your child's supplies regularly, or as often as your insurance will allow, so you are able to send an ample supply to your child's school. This saves on extra trips later. Many pediatric endocrinologists understand the need for more supplies, and will prescribe a sufficient amount. I try to fill Sawyer's prescriptions every 30 days so I will not be shorted on our home supply.

Our school nurse keeps a log of Sawyer's blood sugar numbers and carb intake. She sends a copy home so I can keep track in our log book at home. This is helpful for when calling in numbers to the diabetic nurse at the endocrinologist's office. She also keeps track of his ketones when his numbers are high. If your nurse doesn't do this, perhaps she will if you ask. It's very important to keep track of the numbers for better blood sugar control; which prevents complications.

A little planning will make the back-to-school transition easier on you, your child, and your school nurse. 
Remember: it is important that your child feels secure and safe at school, as well as at home. Furthermore, it makes it easier on the school nurse if she has all your child's supplies at hand. Your child is probably not the only diabetic she attends to each day. 

If your child's treatment plan has changed over the summer, be sure to get a letter from your doctor to send to the school nurse. Our nurse cannot make any changes without a doctor's note. She cannot go based on what I tell her.

One last important thing to remember to send along with your child.

Lots of hugs.

They're doing a great job, and so are you. 


  1. WOW...amazing the supplies I had never of thought of for your son...a lot of us are completely unaware. Thanks,

  2. You're welcome, Bill. Most schools don't have these items on hand - especially with all the cut backs. For example, our school used to keep a glucagon pen on hand, but at $175 each, and a shortage of funds, it was removed from their budget.

  3. awww very well-written :)


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