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Juvenile Diabetes and School Supply Preparations

I am mom to an amazing T1 teenage daughter. She was diagnosed a few weeks after turning 13.


Be Prepared for an Emergency

I am not a medical professional. These are just some suggestions based on what my family does. Other families do a lot more or a lot less. You have to figure out what works for you!

A couple of weeks ago we were at a restaurant and my daughter's pump went bad. I had forgotten the travel bag with the extra infusion set, insulin, etc. It all worked out fine but it was a scare. I have since become way more organized and have checklists to help because we always seem to forget something! So that said, I am definitely NOT an expert.

A Little Background Information

Yes, it’s that time again, the beginning of a new school year. This will be my daughter’s third year attending school since her Type 1 Juvenile diabetes diagnosis.

My daughter was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 12. In January of 2014, our family life changed. She has been hospitalized five times. In 2015 time we took her to the ER, she was in ketoacidosis (a T1 parent’s nightmare) and had swelling on her brain. In April of this year, she had a finger infection that went almost to the bone and she lost mobility. This after two different doctors prescribed the WRONG antibiotics! That's another story.

This year we face some new challenges because it will be her first year in the high school and second year in marching band. I am so proud of her!! Even though she has serious health issues, as soon as she feels better, she is ready to tackle the next step!

Hypoglycemia and Hyperglycemia Symptom Charts


Preparing for a New School Year

As I am preparing for the beginning of the school year in a few days, I am getting her packets of information and supplies ready. It took me months to really figure out exactly what I needed to send to school, food supplies, information, charts and medical items. It was (is) a job in itself.

I added some forms I found on Pinterest. You can do your own search. There are lots of different forms you can use. Some are geared towards younger children who may not be able to verbalize their needs.

Communication Is Key!

Medical Supplies

I make sure to keep the lines of communication open with our school nurse and diabetes nurse so the school nurse has the right orders. About a week before school starts I contacted our endocrinologist to fax my daughter's up-to-date medical orders and/or prescriptions directly to the school nurse's fax machine.

If not, it goes to the school guidance counselor. With the pump, it’s a lot simpler because there are no numbers to calculate, but the nurse will still need to orders to monitor boluses and high blood glucose coverage.

These items are vital. Your child can not attend school if they do not have adequate medical supplies. We have only used the syringe, Flexpen and T-Slim pump so I will go over the supplies we sent in for each of these. Remember, you need to find out from the school district what you can send with your child and what you have to bring in. Our school district does not allow any sharps, so the Flexpen and syringes were not allowed on the school bus.

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Remember, you will need to keep checking to make sure there are enough supplies. The last thing you want is to be at work and get a call that your child doesn't have any test strips, or forgot their meter at home or has no insulin!! I have had all of those calls and more.

Insulin Injection Checklist

When Using Syringes and Bottled Insulin

  • Syringes – enough for a month minimum
  • Unopened bottle of insulin
  • Alcohol pads
  • Kit with tag stating medical diagnosis, name and emergency numbers (included in the kit is a Glucagon, meter, pricker, extra lancets, test strips and a juice and/or snack for lows)
  • Extra test strips
  • Ketostix
  • Glucagon
  • Enough juice or snacks for lows to last a a month
  • Extra Meter to be left at the school with charging cord
  • Extra pricker

Flexpen Checklist

  • Unopened, never used Flexpen Prefilled Syringe
  • Alcohol pads
  • Kit with tag stating medical diagnosis, name and emergency numbers (included in the kit is a Glucagon, meter, pricker, extra lancets, test strips and a juice and/or snack for lows)
  • Extra test strips
  • Ketostix
  • Glucagon
  • Enough juice or snacks for lows to last at least 2-3 weeks
  • Meter to be left at the school with charging cord
  • Extra pricker (optional but highly recommended)

Pump Checklist

Using Pump

  • Extra cartridges
  • Extra syringe sets for refilling
  • Infusion sets (5 or more)
  • Unopened bottle of insulin
  • Kit with tag stating medical diagnosis, name and emergency numbers (included in the kit is a Glucagon, meter, pricker, extra lancets, test strips and a juice and/or snack for lows)
  • Extra test strips
  • Ketostix
  • Enough juice or snacks for lows to last at least 2-3 weeks
  • Meter to be left at the school with charging cord
  • Optional: Flexpen or syringe in case of pump malfunction

There are times when my daughter's pump has either run out of insulin, the site has come out or the site was too painful to leave the infusion set in. Because she has no Lantus in her system, her bg levels will go high. So far this has never happened at school.

Also check with your school nurse to find out what her system is. When starting junior high, I purchased a plastic container for her supplies, but the nurse has her own system where each student has a drawer in her office to store their supplies.

The nurse also advised me that the students are responsible for keeping tabs on their supplies and parents are welcome to come in and check to see what's needed.

Check with Your Medical Professional

I am not a medical professional so you should definitely check with your school nurse and diabetes nurse to make sure your supply list is sufficient.

Keep Lines of Communication Open

I write a letter to her teachers, introducing myself and telling them a little about Type 1 diabetes. I share my email address and get all of her teacher's email addresses. All of this along with the fliers and charts are included in a packet given to each teacher. (her teachers have expressed gratitude because some hadn't any previous experience with juvenile diabetes.)

Educate, educate, educate about Type 1 diabetes! I have had teachers who thought my daughter could not eat candy or sweets at all. I like to let them know she can have sweets but she must go to the nurse to cover it. I include a chart for both hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia symptoms. And I tell them some things about my daughter, like the fact that she is shy and sometimes will be quiet even when she needs to speak up. Or that she is somewhat self-conscious about things like her hair or her dry skin. I ask that if she is not feeling well, they never send her to the nurse alone. And I tell them about her qualities, like the fact that she has a strong personality, is loyal and highly intelligent. I add facts about how she learns best.

I make sure the school guidance counselor has provided every teacher with her Plan 504. If you don’t have a Plan 504, contact the school guidance counselor and get one as soon as possible. The Plan 504 ensures that your child has access to water, the nurse, medication, extra time for tests and any other requirements your child may need to be safe and do well while at school. You can find more information on the Plan 504 process here:

I like to add a handwritten note stating she is to have access to the water and the nurse whenever she feels it is necessary.

Along with the written items, I send a Ziploc bag with a couple of Capri Sun juices and a small bag of candy in case she has a low and is too lightheaded to go to the nurse or there is a code Red and she is not able to get to the nurse in a timely manner.

Make sure to have an emergency plan handy for your child's teachers. Here is a link to a quick and easy form:

Because my daughter has had many other complications, infections and a low level positive blood result for lupus, I am in regular contact with the school nurse. As a substitute teacher, I can often drop in on a day I’m not working or I will sub at her school. Going to the school regularly gives me the ability to check on her supplies. She is 13 and will 14 in a few months, so the nurse at the junior high level is not as hands on as the nurse in her previous school.

Marching Band

For marching band, I met with the band directors and boosters during the summer band camp. We put extra supplies into the “Mommy” bag which is the bag that one of the boosters carries to every game. We also put juice into the refrigerator in the band director’s office. I instructed them all on how to use the Glucagon and how to recognize when she may be experiencing high or low blood sugars and what to do. Fortunately, one of the band directors has been my daughter's music teacher for two years and keeps a watchful eye on her. (God bless her!!) An added plus is we have four moms who are nurses and I let them know about my daughter's diagnosis and of course I go to the practices and games. As a substitute teacher in the district I have all my clearances so I can even ride on the school bus with the band for away games!

Cry, Take a Deep Breath and Breathe

At the time of my daughter's diagnosis, I felt an onrush of emotions that are difficult to identify even now almost two years later. I felt guilty, thinking there must have been something I could had done to prevent this happening to my child. And I felt sad, I don’t think depression is really the right word—it was just a very deep sadness. I cried every day for months. At first I was a heart wrenching, sobbing mess, but little by little, just a few tears would slide out of the corners of my eyes.

I would say in the last three months I may have only cried 5 or 6 times. But the heartache comes often, when I look at her hair that has broken off since she got sick or her dry skin. She already had eczema. Diabetes can wreak havoc on the skin and hers has become extremely dry no matter what skin product we use.

As a family, my husband, son, daughter and I are all learning how to live with diabetes. At first it was absolutely overwhelming. I felt like a failure whenever she was sick. We would take three steps forward and then two backward. But we are getting better and better at managing. Her last A1C result was fabulous!!!

It's day by day and when we get through a week or like this summer an entire month where it's all good, we rejoice and BREATHE!

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.


Jenn on April 20, 2017:

Hi, I was wondering if you had these forms so I can print them out?

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