Islets of Hope for persons with diabetes
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Is an insulin pump the right choice for you or your child? More than 450,000 people worldwide are currently using an insulin pump.
Using an insulin pump can help put control back into the lives of diabetics who use daily insulin. Pumps are clinically proven to be effective in improving A1c levels, and make life easier when managing food choices and exercise – even blood sugar changes resulting stress and illness are simpler to manage on an insulin pump.
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Fabulous diabetes caregivers
Janet Dryer and Dottie Dick
There are two very special ladies in my life that deserve praise and thanks more than words on this page can express. Janet Dryer and Dottie Dick of The Children's School in Claremont, CA have had a profoundly positive impact on my life, as well as my daughter, Elizabeth's, and indirectly have been major contributors to the success of Islets of Hope and IPump.org.
My daughter, Elizabeth, did not do well in the California public school system. In fact, the deplorable lack of care she received at the public elementary school resulted in her entering diabetic ketoacidosis and nearly going comatose. I pulled Elizabeth from school and home educated her for the remainder of her kindergarten year. She was learning a little, but lonely. So lonely that I even relented and finally got her a dog, but dogs only go so far (and chew up your favorite toys).
I did not want Elizabeth to ever attend school outside the home again, at least not until she was more self-sufficient in her own diabetes care. Sadly, I had lost all faith in California educators and Elizabeth was also terrified that her old school would kill her if we went back. She even had nightmares about school and would cry out that she needed a sugar check (the school refused to do this for her), pleading, that she was going to die. But Elizabeth's father, Jeff, insisted that I needed a life outside of diabetes and Elizabeth needed friends.
Jeff took over because I was unable to face the idea of school. He contacted Janet Dryer, Director of The Children's School and told her about Elizabeth. The Children's School had never had a diabetic student before and they were not equipped to handle Elizabeth's care. But after careful deliberation, Janet made the decision to accept Elizabeth into their program and showed a willingness to learn how to care for our daughter.
Janet and Dottie both learned how to give glucagon injections before Elizabeth started school. The plan we came up with was for me to stay at the school during the day until winter break. This time allowed for Elizabeth to become comfortable in her new setting and to learn to trust adults again, and for Janet and Dottie to learn about diabetes. By the beginning of the new year (2006) our plan was successful! Janet and Dottie were able to recognize signs of hypoglycemia, knew Elizabeth and diabetes well enough to begin caring for my daughter without me being there, and most important of all, Elizabeth had come to trust her teachers with complete confidence.
I still go back and forth to school for lunches, when Elizabeth is low, or needs extra supervision. But Elizabeth and I both know that Janet and Dottie can handle any emergency now. Elizabeth is allowed to carry her supplies, test anytime she feels the need to, and has been fully integrated into their program and in her own words "I feel like a normal kid now that my mom does not have to be with me all day long."
I now have 2 or 3 hours out of each day, sometimes more, when I can zip home and work uninterrupted knowing Elizabeth is happy and safe. You may think a few hours a day is not much, but to me it is gold. Before I was able to leave Elizabeth in the care of her loving teachers, I had to work on Islets of Hope and IPump.org at night after all four of my children had retired for the evening. My work day began at 9:30 p.m. and a typical night for me meant going to bed at 1 or 2 a.m. and getting up at 4:30 or 5 a.m. to work some more before getting my son up for school at 6:15 a.m. I did this 7 days a week and did not even take time off on Christmas or New Years, or any other day for more than 6 months.
During the time I was still at the Children's School all day Janet let me take naps in the school library. Dottie even brought me blankets, turned out the lights, and closed the door. They understood my demanding life and encouraged me personally, as well as offered a place to catch a short nap here and there. These beautiful souls are the first adult friends I have had in my life since Elizabeth was diagnosed with diabetes and have made me feel connected to the world outside of diabetes for the first time in two years.
My work days are not much easier, I still have to rise at 4:30 a.m. (sometimes earlier) to get in uninterrupted work time; such is the busy life of a single mom to four with or without diabetes in the mix. But I get naps at school on occasion and those few hours each day given back to me when I leave Elizabeth at school, afford me the luxury of going to bed most nights before midnight.
Janet and Dottie have a passion and love for children that is rare. Their teaching approach is complemented by friendship and love that they give freely and unconditionally to each child in their care. But not only do they educate children above and beyond the call of duty, they did something else still too rare in many schools: they were willing to educate themselves about diabetes.
Janet and Dottie have given me a lot, including hope and a renewed enthusiasm for helping other families in need, just as they have helped my own family. But most of all, they have put a sense or normalcy back into Elizabeth's childhood that diabetes had stolen from her.
Janet and Dottie, thank you. I think I will go take a nap now.
Importation Note about The Children's School: In case you are interested in The Children's School for your own child with diabetes I need to state that Elizabeth is on an insulin pump. She is able to perform her own sugar checks, and operate her pump with adult supervision. She has a keen sense of hypoglycemia awareness and is relatively stable now. The Children's School has made reasonable accommodations for Elizabeth and our care plan is working well for both Elizabeth and the school. But I also need to state, for the benefit of The Children's School, that they are not staffed to be able to handle children with diabetes that require the usual level of care. They do not give injections, or calculate insulin boluses, for example. There is no nurse onsite, and there are only two teachers that are responsible for many students and, as a private school, are under no obligation to provide such level of care to diabetic students.
Private schools that receive federal funding may be required to accept certain students with disabilities, however, they are not required to give injections of insulin, glucagon, or calculate insulin boluses. They may be required to make reasonable accommodations such as allowing blood glucose checks and taking simple corrective action like giving a fast-acting sugar for hypoglycemia, calling a parent, or 911. Parents are required to provide any and all diabetes supplies, including special foods or fast sugars.
Do you have a someone you would like to thank for helping you deal with diabetes? Send us your story about your favorite teacher, health care provider, family member, friend, or anyone in your life that makes living with diabetes easier for you or your child. See our Contact Page for submission guidelines.
Page Updated 03/14/2006