When To Tell
One of the most interesting issues for a young diabetic is when to tell people you have been diagnosed with Diabetes. It was never difficult for me. I grew up with up diabetes in my house so to me it was normal. I really didn’t know any different. So I usually tell people within 10 minutes of meeting me. I tell potential employers, I told my dates, I think my wife might have known before we even went out the first time and I tend to tell everyone I meet. I think I got that from my mother, which as far as I know was very open about the disease to her friends and acquaintances.
In fact there was only one person I decided not to tell. My high school had a rule that no medicines were allowed in the school unless they were kept by the school nurse. I had a mid-afternoon dose (even today it is my worst time) and I decided to keep the syringe in my locker and give the dose in the boy’s bathroom or if I was brave in the hallway.
There were a few over 500 children in my high school class so blending in was pretty easy. In fact I had blended in so well that I was lost in the shuffle. Since I was diagnosed when I was 17 during the summer before the start of my senior year, I felt little need to tell the school nurse. I didn’t mind if teachers, other students even the cafeteria workers knew, but I did not want the school nurse to know. Since my mom and dad did not know that I had refused to tell the school nurse they had no idea they were required to fill out the special medical information form.
Of course when it happened, the wall came tumbling down in dramatic fashion. According to the records sometime in early February I was discovered using insulin at school. The teacher sent me to the principal who suspected I was taking or selling drugs. They confiscated the insulin, informed the police liaison and in short order the gig was up.
My father who worked at a local manufacturing plant was finally tracked down and he had to come to school to ‘discuss matters’. My mother was in the hospital in Indianapolis so both dad and I had good reason to try and not complicate her worries. Dad, was worried that the school would carry out their threat to have me arrested or expelled or both. I was worried I might not get to ‘run into my wife’ of 35 years in the hallway who was not very happy with my admiration in high school. She was dating someone else and really would have preferred that I go away. Oh how love wins out in the end and I knew it even in High School.
So I was granted immunity, told to report to detention for a few days, the nurse confiscated my supply of syringes, gave me a stern talking too about when to tell, namely early and the nurse. Then I was sent on my way for the duration. Another senior student rescued from himself and given corrective adjustment.
My dad gave me a stern talking too. The school required that I had to turn in the dictionary I had misappropriated from the library and had already paid be replaced in my Junior year, oh and I was told from now on I had to park in lot E of the High School parking lots. Oh lot E you ask? It was for the medically fragile children. So instead of being with the other seniors out back where the music blared and there was passion to watch some mornings, I was in Lot E closer to the building, but not nearly as interesting. In pretty short order I lost my riders who were either too embarrassed to join me in Lot E or who wanted the more fun filled main lot for early morning entertainment.
So when to tell? Well if one flash forwards now 40 years I was the hearing examiner for a school system in cases of expulsion. Sure enough a student who was down on his luck came before me because he had brought Tylenol to school not checked them with the nurse and was caught taking then at a hallway water fountain. The young man was not well liked by students or staff and he was not cut any breaks by either. At the high school this was clearly an event worthy of expulsion and for good reason. Any drugs in a school can be misused and over the years several students had ‘sold Tylenol’ claiming it’s use for other purposes. But as I faced him and his parents, I just couldn’t do it. For him there was no lot E, he rode the bus and anyway he couldn’t drive so he wasn’t going to feel any punishment in that regard.
I worked out a diversion agreement which angered the principal to no end. Detention, suspension for 10 days, checking in with the nurse every morning even if he didn’t have medications and a written paper about what he had learned where to be his punishments. Two weeks later I received a single written page. In larger than normal script it contained five sentences. It said in essence I should tell the nurse when I bring Tylenol to school. Later that semester the young man stopped coming to school and eventually was expelled for nonattendance, a way to clear the books of students who refused to come.
So even today I ask this question, when do you tell? Well apparently you better tell the school nurse immediately. Thus my policy, tell everyone when you meet them, it hurts much worse than being assigned to Lot E, I know that for certain.