My son, Caleb, was diagnosed with type 1 at the age of three. He’s currently thirteen. There have been many struggles over the years, and managing diabetes at school is among the biggest. It is inherently complex, and it requires intense attention as it is ever-evolving with new participants each and every year.
Our range of experiences has been extreme. We’ve had remarkably helpful, caring and interested people offering to do whatever it took to keep Caleb safe, and we’ve had to take legal action resulting in staff members being removed because they were not able or willing to keep Caleb out of danger.
Caleb started eighth grade last week. Diabetes has become such a small part of his school day, I’m not sure we did much of anything to prepare for it this year. This is a monumental difference to the documents and instructions and meetings and supplies that I coordinated when he was in preschool and early elementary school. It’s also a significant change from where we were just a couple of years ago when he started middle school.
I remember looking for these types of stories when Caleb was little, and not finding them. I wanted to know what it would be like. I needed to know whether we would be living this way for the rest of our lives. Although I knew Caleb would mature and become more autonomous, I couldn’t picture what that would be.
Now I know. It’s a young man. He’s capable and responsible. He carries a bag with him wherever he goes. He’s focused on his schoolwork and his friends and is excited about his varied after school activities. Diabetes is still there, but it’s so much less of a monster than it once was.
As parents, we teach and prepare our children to care for themselves. Just like Caleb has learned to dress himself, make his own meals, do his schoolwork independently, and countless other things I take for granted, so too has he learned to manage his diabetes independently.
Now I know.