School Tools

Back to school next week here! My daughter will begin her last year of middle school and my son heads into 4th grade. Wow.

We have a diabetes goal each year. Since Benny was diagnosed so young (before he was 2), he knew how to check blood sugar and give himself insulin before he started Kindergarten. Our goals tend to be: change your own inset at school, buy lunch once or twice a week (we’re less sure about the carbs when he doesn’t bring from home) and be responsible for remembering to check blood sugar at certain times.

This year, the goal is likely going to be some combination of counting his own carbs and giving most of his insulin before he eats. That’s the best way to do it. We just started so young – who knows what a toddler will really eat – that we’ve always given insulin after. For the past few years, we’ve been trying to transition, but it hasn’t really stuck. This is a good time to make it standard operating procedure.

Starting school with diabetes usually means lots of education for teachers, staff, even parents, especially if it’s a relatively new diagnosis. Here are some great tools we’ve used over the years to make it easier.

-ADA’s Safe at School  The American Diabetes Association offers everything from training materials for school staff to information on legal protection and advice on how to make everyone feel their part of a team.

-T1D in School JDRF has a similar set of materials

-Diabetes 101 (video) JDRF video featuring teens and kids talking about type 1 diabetes in a way their peers can understand.

-North Carolina Law/Guidelines  - Info specific to our state which allows individual care plans (and link to the actual law)

I usually go in and talk to Benny’s class and I send home this email (click here) explaining what we discussed. I usually ask the teacher to send the letter through email, but I’ve handed out copies, too. It really helps; I’ve heard from many parents who appreciate the info, and it’s saved us from well-meaning people bringing sugar-free (gross) alternatives to school birthday parties. Yes, he can eat that.

Our biggest challenge this year may actually come in the spring. Benny has asked us to invite his entire school to join our JDRF walk team. Looks like we’ll be making up a lot more t-shirts this year!

Jerry the Bear: The Big Idea

Benny was diagnosed with type 1 before he was old enough to pronounce diabetes. My parents bought him a Curious George doctor doll and his beloved Elmo often got a juice box and a shot. We explained everything the best we could to our 2 year old, but found that diabetes-play better helped him process what was going on.

That’s why I’m a big fan of Jerry the Bear, an adorable plush toy (below)that teaches kid about diabetes.


I met the company founders at a conference last summerthey made a big impression on me. Jerry is a great tool for children with diabetes and for their friends and classmates. It makes learning about diabetes less scary and more fun.

I’m so pleased that they asked me to help get the word out about their latest project. It’s a pretty audacious one. They want to give every newly diagnosed child a Jerry the Bear toy. For free.


From their website:

“Last Christmas, we shipped our first production run of Jerry the Bear and reached 2% of all newly diagnosed children with T1D in the U.S. Now, after 5 months, kids are still playing with Jerry for over an hour each week – monitoring his blood sugar levels, feeding him a healthy diet, and replaying his educational lessons.

This makes us ask the questions, what if we can get Jerry into the hands of100% of children newly diagnosed with type 1 diabetes? Can we make a profound difference in the life of every child diagnosed?”

I bet they can do it. Find out more about how you can help with this big idea (link takes you to their fundraising campaign).

Just want to know more about Jerry the Bear? Watch this:

Our Independence Day

This week marks seven years since we started Benny on an insulin pump. I remember joking about our independence from shots. Slade and I were excited to start on the Animas insulin pump. At two and a half years old, Benny wasn’t exactly so sure.

From my post in 2007 (click here to read it all):

“To say the pump transition has not gone as planned would be an understatement. I can honestly say I never thought Benny would grab his brand new pump and throw it across the room.We got the inset onto Benny (we’re calling it his “button”) and unlike last time, he was not happy about it. After the initial outburst (okay, it was a total tantrum – and that’s when he chucked the pump across the room) he calmed down until bedtime. When I changed him, he noticed the “button” on his tush and told me to ‘off it.’

So, it wasn’t perfect. And inset changes, while much easier, sometimes still hurt (that’s how the pump attaches to Benny’s body and it’s like getting a big shot). Overall, pumping has been a terrific experience. The Animas pump has given Benny more flexibility, discretion and independence in managing his diabetes.  The dosing is more accurate and consistent and caregivers who were reluctant to give shots were much more comfortable with pressing buttons.

Pumping isn’t for everyone with diabetes, of course. We know lots of people who get great control and numbers on shots or with insulin pens. But it was the 100% right decision for us.



Happy Independence Day!


Father’s Day

We’re spending Father’s Day this year taking Benny to diabetes camp. Or, as he calls it, “Best week of the year!” It got me thinking about dads and diabetes and how lucky I feel that Slade and I really are a team.

Well, that’s a bit of a lie. Right now, Benny will only let his father do the Dexcom sensor changes. Slade’s very fast and there’s some concern that I won’t do it right. It’s the first time we haven’t shared everything about Benny’s diabetes care. I was surprised to find, that’s a bit unusual.

Slade and Benny one week before diagnosis

One week before Benny’s diagnosis

There are whole studies about how fathers aren’t involved in diabetes care and what that does to their kids’ health outcomes. There is an assumption among many that mom is always the primary caregiver and dad just pays for the health insurance. I know much of this has to do with societal norms and the traditional mom/dad role, but that stinks.

I can’t imagine feeling uncomfortable leaving my husband to care for my child. I take for granted the fact that I can go out to dinner with friends or even away for the weekend and know Slade can handle whatever I could. I know a few moms with clueless-about-diabetes dads and while those moms definitely have more stress, frankly, I think the dads are getting the worse end of that deal.

Let me be clear, Slade and I do NOT have the exact same styles when it comes to diabetes. I know I baby Benny by doing things for him (“let me check your blood sugar, let’s calibrate your Dexcom now”). Slade pushes him to do more for himself (“go get your own meter, show me how you fill the cartridge.”) I love to talk about diabetes, go to meetings and JDRF/ADA events and Slade would just as soon never go to another workshop or D-meetup again. But we both agree on the big picture and long term goals  – giving Benny the tools to be independent, responsible, happy and healthy.

So, Happy Father’s Day, Slade.  While it’s sometimes hard for me to watch your style, I know you’re teaching both our children life lessons they’ll need. Now go change the Dexcom sensor while I lounge around.


I have to say nice things about him or they'll make me go on the teacups!

I have to say nice things about him or they’ll make me go on the teacups!