We sat in a ‘support group’ shortly after her diagnosis. The parents at the meeting looked mostly sleep deprived and concerned. A few smiled only when you smiled first. The topic was Supporting Your Child With T1D At School: What you need to know. I thought ‘Okay, this is an important topic’. I normally talk, a lot, but in these meetings I think its helpful to just listen. Most of the families have been dealing with this condition far longer than we have and we have a steep learning curve. So, “shut up and listen”, I say to myself. One parent sat with her arms crossed and said, “Our school nurse is terrible, absolutely terrible.” She went on to describe how the nurse wouldn’t touch her daughter’s insulin pump and didn’t provide the basic care her daughter’s condition required. This challenge drove her to write letters to the principal and superintendent, even the school board. At one point, and rightfully so, she said incredulously “I mean, her care can mean life or death for my daughter”. She was definitely not kidding about that, although not a likelihood, totally within the realm of possibility. As I sat there, I just kept thinking “Our school nurse is nothing like that”. Our partnership with her is personal. In fact, she learned how to use A’s pump before we did. She texted me and said she had downloaded the manual and was ready and excited that we were moving in this direction as she knew it would improve the quality of A’s life. This is the same nurse, that had us put the Dexcom share app on her personal phone so she had her numbers while she is at school. She goes so far as to allow substitute nurses to call her when she is out, even when sick, to make sure A is okay. This very same nurse who has worked tirelessly to educate the educators in the building and fight for a wellness policy in the school that took all students’ needs into consideration.
I’m passionate about what this woman means to my child. She understands my sweet one’s personality, her sense of humor and how to uplift her. Most importantly, she won’t accept anything but what is right for A. I would categorize our relationship as something in between aligned partnership and unhealthy attachment (on A’s part, not hers). For example, recently I came home in the evening and asked A how her day was. She sat at the kitchen table looking sad. I looked her in her eye and said “I can tell something is bothering you. Spill it.” She replied. “The nurse was out today” and looked down at her hands. Not having her nurse around impacted A.
I sincerely hope that our school nurse is not an anomaly. She is exemplary and believe me, I don’t over exaggerate when I say that. Every child with a medical condition needing attention in school, not just T1D, deserves a school nurse who will support them as completely as ours does. We don’t thank her nearly as much as we should, but are so grateful to have her. Here’s to our school nurse, who is in fact, a nurse of distinction! You’ve set the bar high for the next school nurse.