Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Diabetes Memory #4,568: My First Day of High School & My Fear Of Being A Diabetes Freak

True Story: I attended school back in the day when 504 was just the area code for New Orleans~

The first day of my freshman year of High School was a stressful one for all sorts of reasons.
Like most Freshman, I was nervous and scared of starting a new school chapter. 
I was starting  a new school that was much larger and bigger than my middle school & I was going to be low girl on the totem pole. 
It was the first time I ever had to wear a school uniform and I hated it. 
It was the first time I had to take a school bus and rumor had it that the upper class men made freshman newbies sing the school song on the bus and that alone made me scared. 
And let's face it, being 14 can suck. You're growing up and at least for me - the awkward adolescent stages lasted much longer then they should have. I was skinny with almost no curves and I wore glasses and my face hadn't quite caught up to the size of my nose. 
And then of course there was whole diabetes thing.
I was going to a new school where most of the students and teachers didn’t know about my diabetes. And yes, my parents had talked with the school nurse and and she’d met with all my teachers to make them aware of “my condition,” (and btw, I hate that term,) but high school was a new diabetes ball game entirely. 
For 6 years I’d been in a very small & progressive school system where everyone; teachers, students - even the janitors knew I had diabetes. It was an accepted fact and nobody treated me any differently. When I had to eat my snack in class, no one batted an eye. And when I had to treat a low, I could treat in class or excuse myself and go to the nurses office - no questions asked.
And for the most part, I was in comfortable in my grade and middle school’s diabetes bubble. 
The second class on my first day of High School was Freshman English, taught by Sister Katherine, a strict nun who loved the sound of her own voice.
I watched the clock as it ticked towards 10:15 a.m. ( the time I was supposed to eat my snack,) and I was starting to get really nervous. 
How was I going to pull this off? I had no desire to miss class and eat in the nurses office - And my parents would have been mortified at that thought.  I didn't want the sick kid label because I wasn't sick. 
My mom and dad always made it clear that if I had to eat, I had to eat.  And it didn't matter where I was or what I was doing. They strongly believed that snacks shouldn’t require a trip to the nurses office or the storage room, which is where my 5th grade teacher made me eat my snack, until I told my parents - But that’s for another post.
Anyway, back to Sister Katherine. I tried raising my hand to give her a heads up about having to eat, but she was in the middle of a speech on how all assignments handed in must be grammatically correct and didn’t want to be interrupted.
She looked at me and said: No questions until I’m finished!
And then she continued talking... and talking.. and talking.
And then it was 10:25 and I was super hungry, so I reached into my knapsack and pulled out a pear and started to eat it.
And Sister Katherine didn’t miss a beat. She ended her speech with something like: Regardless of the content or how good your writing sounds, your grade will go down a letter grade if you have more than 3 grammatical errors on a paper. And then without skipping a beat, she crouched down at my desk, (I'd been assigned a seat was in the front row,) looked me square in the eye and said: And why are you eating a pear in my class? 
Me: I’m allowed to.
Sister Katherine: No, I don’t think you are - We eat in the cafeteria, not in my classroom.
Me: I have diabetes -  I have to eat. The school nurse had a meeting with my teachers - Didn’t you attend? 
Sister Katherine: Ahh, yes... You’re the one.
Me: Yep, I’m the one.
Sister Katherine: Well, I would have appreciated a heads-up. You should have reminded me at the beginning of class.
Me: Sister Katherine, I did try and tell you.
Sister Katherine: Continue with your snack, but I won’t tolerate any class disruptions because of your food requirements. By all means, eat whenever you have to but don’t make a big production of it. 
And then she continued to wax poetic about dangling participles and the likes there of 
and I was completely mortified. Even though I did what I had to and didn’t back down, I was afraid of what everyone else would think. 
I didn’t know most of these kids and now I was going to be the Diabetes Freak of the freshman class.
Then I looked over to my left and saw a student give me the thumbs up sign - And I didn’t know him - And I think I smiled and winked back at him. And then I looked over to my right and the girl next to me was smiling at me - And I didn’t know her either!  
And at that moment I knew that my diabetes wouldn’t define me as the Diabetes Freak  as far as my classmates were concerned. 
It doesn't mean I wasn't a freak and or geek, because I think I was - But not because of my diabetes.
And looking back, I wish I'd been able to stick up for myself in other areas of my High School life the way I stuck up for my broken pancreas. Kids in High School can be mean, especially girls - And especially when they feel threatened. #truth
But that's for another post entirely.

Did you have any fears about being the Diabetes Freak in your school? If so, how'd you handle it? 


Unknown said...

I hated when 11am at school, i was always worried that someone would forget I needed to eat or the other people would stare and talk.
In the end I just got on with it but I hated it when I went hypo in class , I only had one big one that I can remember and I all I can remember is being taken around into the cafeteria to get something sugary .

Scully said...

This is really eye opening. Mostly because I got diagnosed after college and never had to attend any sort of schooling with D. Also because despite the teachers attitude and ignorance, the reaction from the other students was heartfelt. Not that they felt "sorry" for you but it seems like they thought the teacher was maybe a bit of a b*tch too! :D

Kate Cornell said...

I'm a T2 so I don't have any high school D stories but I had to tell you that I absolutely love this post!

Scott K. Johnson said...

Thanks for sharing this K2.

Scott E said...

Sounds like the other students didn't like Sister Katherine either, so you fell into a "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" circumstance. Whatever the reason, the others were proud of you for standing up to her. Great story!

Nicté said...

I was diagnosed in the middle of high school and for the most part, I hid it big time.
I really didn't have quite a plan because I was very uninformed and well, having the honeymoon helped me go without many lows but I did bring a lunch every day as after high school I'd go to work, and people just wondered why I eat so healthy but never realized so.
I really freaked out whenever I had to say it out loud or if someone figured I had diabetes and I'm still trying to figure out how to tell new people in my life what I live with..
It's just really confusing...

Kristin said...

Nice! And I love the other students' reactions! Especially since you hear a mix of stories about life in schools today (we'll be there in a couple years).