I believe children with diabetes encounter more personal battles, than adults do. I had my fair share.
When I was ten, my parents and I learned the difficulties of the flu virus. The flu and diabetes do not get along. In 1980, there weren’t too many diabetic ‘tools’ to help keep it under control with the flu (portable blood testing or small insulin pumps). And, therefore, I would dehydrate and wind up in the hospital.
On this particular occasion, we were living in Denton, Texas and I had two (not just one) excellent pediatricians. It was late February and my parents were taking me to the emergency room for fluids. I was cramping really bad, due to the high blood sugars, so the ER physicians gave me codeine through my IV.
Unbeknownst to us, I was highly allergic to codeine. I broke out in hives and began vomiting all over again. Needless to say, I had to spend the night in the hospital to stabilize.
During the night, I was told my regular pediatricians were out of town and they had just hired a new doctor to join their group. He came into my room, introduced himself, and wanted to give me a large dose of Regular insulin to cover my last high blood sugar readings. His nurse already had the syringe drawn up.
Now by this time, I was a little sensitive to Regular insulin. Large doses were NOT recommended to me. So upon hearing that this new doctor wanted to give me a large dose, I disagreed with him and I requested to call my parents (who had already gone home for the evening).
In short, my dad did not take this news kindly at all. He informed the new doctor of my insulin sensitivity and told the doctor that I should be given a smaller dose. The doctor, apparently wanting to show his authority, argued with my dad. Not a good move on his part.
My dad told the doctor that he was coming back to the hospital and they would discuss the matter further. According to my mother, this was my dad’s way of saying, “I’m coming to kick you’re a@@, so you better watch out.”
As you can tell, I didn’t receive the large dosage and had a great blood sugar reading the next morning. I went home afterwards.
Subsequently, the new doctor was severely disciplined for his behavior and told never to treat me again.
Diabetics face battles similar to this one everyday.
But new doctors aren’t the only trouble-makers. Insurance companies and school nurses can cause just as much, if not more, trouble for insulin-dependant diabetics.
Before the Americans With Disabilities Act, diabetics were told they wouldn’t be covered by insurance companies due to their, “pre-existing condition”. This verbiage says that, since you were born with this disease, we can’t nor won’t help you treat it. Depending on what state you live in today, insurance companies can still turn you down using the pre-existing condition clause.
It’s 2006 and you would think insurance companies would give just a little, right? The Americans With Disabilities Act allowed states to override insurance companies who turn you down. The state of Georgia is one of those. However, the state cannot set the costs to the patient. So, insurance companies can rake you for your disease. As a diabetic, I can be charged as much as $5,000 a month for insurance coverage. Sad, isn’t it?
Let’s move on to school nurses, shall we? School nurses are wonderful for treating a child’s minor cuts, scrapes, and bruises. They can even contact parents if a child is experiencing a fever or stomach virus. But add “diabetes” to their daily grind, and they run into trouble.
Back before the days of diabetes education, thanks in large part to The American Diabetes Association and Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, school nurses wanted NO responsibility in taking care of a student with diabetes. It was like having the plague. (Mark, can your disease spread?) And if school nurses made a big enough stink about it, they tended to get their way.
There were a few school nurses who were very gracious and helped me whenever I needed it. But, few indeed.
Many states now have legislation giving protection to students with diabetes in schools. Now, school nurses MUST offer help to diabetic students. This isn’t always the case as every now and then I read an article, where a school nurse refuses to care for a diabetic student. Sad...very sad.
I’m sure students, who suffered from food allergies, dyslexia, asthma, or epilepsy, received the same treatment as I did.
Battles can leave gaping wounds that take time to heal. As I became older, I relied less on school nurses and more on my ability to take care of my disease. I knew my body and disease better than anyone. My friends have all by been very supportive and sometimes enjoy the humor 'behind' having diabetes.
In Part 3, I will discuss my anger and bitterness with diabetes, and using humor to resolve it.