The other day, I was standing near a group of parents at school who were discussing the class's upcoming field trip. Chaperoning field trips and sometimes overseeing class parties often come down to a lottery drawing to see which parents are chosen to come. It's usually a pretty big deal, and the older the kids get, the more exciting the trips are, the more parents want to come.
I overheard a parent mention that "some" parents always get to chaperone the field trips in our children's class. Her words were polite, but I could tell from her voice that she was bothered. (She also mentioned that once again, she was not chosen to chaperone.)
I know that I was one of the parents to whom she was referring. (Me, and the other T1D moms in our school.) We have it written into our 504 plan that we need to chaperone all field trips. The school nurse usually takes care of our kids' diabetic needs during school hours, but we can't take her away from the other diabetics, asthmatics, chronically-ill, and other kids with various illnesses.
I agree. It's not fair for one parent to always be granted one of the few spots allowed to parents on these outings. And that same parent also gets to be at all the class parties. (Trust me - these are actually coveted positions!)
I wanted to tell her this: I would love to give you my spot as a chaperone on the next field trip. It would work for everyone anyway. My other kids are mad at me that I go to all her trips and not theirs. And honestly, it's been difficult to make sure I can work every trip and party into my schedule. I could use a break from it. So, please! Take my spot!
But before you go, there are a few things you need to be ready for a few things. Remember, I said the school nurse will not be there. The teacher needs to oversee all the other children, so you will need to be the one to take care of my daughter's diabetic needs, okay? Okay.
We make it look easy, but there are a lot of details you might miss, so please pay attention. She will give you her bag of supplies to make sure it is in safe keeping. Guard this bag with your life, because in it are some prescriptions that my insurance will NOT let me renew until a certain date. One of them is her insulin. If we lose her insulin, she is in critical danger.
Also in this bag are lots of food items. On this field trip, there will probably be someone at the door checking bags. Since most places do not allow you to bring your own food items in with you, you will probably be pulled aside and told you need to get rid of the food. Fight this - you must have the food. I usually bring my daughter over and show them the pump on her arm and CGM on her other arm to explain that she has diabetes. The security guard will balk at you, because a lot of the food in the bag is sugary food and candy. Most people don't believe you when you tell them that T1 diabetics rely on this quick sugar to save their lives. Hopefully you will find someone at the institution who will believe you.
Yes, about that candy. Obviously, she can't just have that anytime she wants, but she's pretty good about knowing that. She knows that eating this candy for her is life or death only, and never for fun. (She's so sick of Skittles anyway, that she wouldn't even want them for fun.) She doesn't want to go back to the hospital so she won't try to pull one over on you. However, you need to keep an eye on her blood sugar readings at all times during the trip, because if it ever goes below 80, you need to give her some of the candy to bring it up. Do NOT give her insulin with this candy, although anytime she eats anything else, you do need to give some insulin. (We'll get to that.)
How much candy do you give, you ask? Well, give it your best guess. Every day is different, so we never know for sure! You can't give too much, because she could go too high and get very sick from that. But if you don't give enough, she might keep dropping. At that point, you need to make sure she stops all active movement, which I guess might be a problem during the field trip. So, you might need to carry her. You can't let her drop too low or else she will have seizures or lose consciousness. (But remember, like I said, don't let her get too high, or she could get very sick from that, too. You have to keep a balance.)
You need to be prepared for that case of her possibly dropping too low and passing out. There is a special needle with her supplies to use in that instance. It's the big one, not the smaller, every day needles. You must use the right one. Hopefully you will have enough time to read the directions with this needle, because you actually have to mix the solution and fill the syringe before you administer the shot. You're okay with giving shots, right? If not, she could die, so I sure hope you are!
By the way, if any of this is done wrong, you will have to have her sent to the hospital. And we really can't afford another hospital bill, since the supplies we buy to keep her alive, even after insurance, has cost us thousands of dollars. We WOULD like to save some for college, so no, can't afford more medical bills. I'm going to have to ask you to pay those bills for me.
I just realized that I haven't explained to you the exact timing of her snack and lunch, determining the number of carbs in everything she eats, and calculating the proper dose of insulin to go with it. Yes, she does need both the snack and the lunch, and they have to be on her timing, which may or may not match up with the school's timing. They're used to it. They will probably go on without you, and you can catch up.
My daughter carries an iPhone with her, and that may not be permitted in the building, but again, that is a medical device for her. Her continuous glucose monitor is transmitting to the bluetooth in the phone. It will alarm when her blood sugar is too high or too low. If you are in a show, they might frown on that alarm, having asked all phones to be silenced. But again, medical device. The alarms are necessary. When the alarm goes off, you must take her out of the show and judge how you need to correct the blood sugar. Do your best, but don't screw up, okay? And sorry you're missing the show.
I should let you know what to do with other emergencies that could come up with no warning. Her insulin pump could detach from her body, just from bumping her arm! Or, the pump could just stop working. That happens on occasion. You will have all the replacement pump supplies in the supply bag, as long as this only happens once. You will need to measure out the insulin from the vial into the syringe, and make sure all the air bubbles are out before filling the pump. Then you need to give her the injection to connect it. (By the way, she hates this, and has never let anyone other than me do it. Hope it works for you, though!)
Well, there are a few other things to look out for, like how much activity she's getting, how anxious she might be, and how the bus ride goes. You don't want to be too far away from her. Oh, and you will probably have a group of a few other kids to watch too. Hopefully, they aren't too much to keep track of. I feel for you - managing the needs of my other non-T1 kids and the one who does have it makes my head spin.
But, hey, I am happy to get this break during the field trip. Sometimes it gets to be a bit much for me, and I'll be looking forward to a few hours of not thinking about it. Thanks so much for offering to take care of everything for me. Enjoy your trip! (and please don't kill my kid.)
While We Are Waiting...
My youngest child was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes in 2014, when she was 7 years old. This blog tells the stories from our life with T1D, while we are waiting for a cure!