I’m the one in the “cool” mighty ducks shirt.
When I was a 13 year old 8th grader I got to go to Washington D.C. on a field trip with my school. It was my first over night field trip and I was beyond thrilled to be on my own for a few days. One of my best friend’s sat next to me on the bus. I can recall crying together when we saw the thousands of names of the soldiers at a war memorial. We giggled about the Presidents (can’t remember that inside joke). We stood in long lines in the scorching sun, waiting up to an hour at a time just to get a passing glimpse of the Declaration of Independence, Honest Abe, and the Washington Memorial.
I do have fond memories of that trip. But I also remember the way diabetes almost ruined it, and totally would have had I not been a 13 year old kid. I was high most of the time on the trip and therefore felt sick. All the time waiting in the sun probably didn’t help matters. The worst was my need to pee ALL the time and only being able to when the schedule allowed it.
I wanted to cry my urine out of my freaking eye balls. I seriously did. I needed to pee so bad but couldn’t. Teachers told us to hold it. No one understood that my high blood sugar made me need to attack the water fountains and go more often but I wasn’t about to say so in front of all my peers. I got a nick name on that trip that lasted a while. “Pee-Pee Sysy” It’s ok. I am not one to get bitter about things like that. I would have called me that, too, the way I jumped up and down in line all day with my friends, saying that I really needed “to go”. Humor actually helped me survive the trip. It was essential.
I was so excited about eating at my first Hard Rock Café when I asked my teacher for my insulin and with a panicked look on her face, she realized they had left it on the bus which had left us at the restaurant. I wasn’t allowed to carry my own insulin because the school policy deemed me too young to carry around a prescription drug and needles around and now my teachers forgot it? Oh it got better- after all the teachers huddled together about the issue they gave me a stern talking to. They asked me how I could manage to forget reminding them about my insulin. I was disappointed at these “adults”, who by the way, were and ironically still are some of my favorite teachers. Deep down I knew I could now sue the school. But being young and shy and completely furious, I didn’t even say a word back.
I wanted to let them know that they had no right to take their fear out on me when they very well knew that I was to have my insulin available to me at all times, that they should just admit their mistake instead of make me feel worse than I already would feel. But I said I’d be ok and I ordered a diet coke that I sipped somberly while all my classmates ate their burgers. After an hour I checked my blood sugar and saw I had gone up to 350. I gave insulin a few hours later when we got back to the bus and since it was those old R and NPH insulin, the dosage pushed me off schedule and messed up my numbers more than they already were.
I cried myself to sleep that night, exhausted by the way diabetes made my life and how it couldn’t even butt out of a once-in-a-lifetime 8th grade field trip. I had made the A/B Honor Roll, I did well in track that year. I was always nice to my teachers. I didn’t deserve any of this.
The next day I felt unexpectedly relieved to be heading home. No more holding my bladder. I’d get help from my parents with my diabetes and I’d have my insulin back in my possession, where it belonged.
And then as if nothing unfortunate ever happened, as if I never had diabetes at all, I thought about nothing but all the good memories from the trip.
That’s the way kids do it. And for those with diabetes, it’s a miraculous saving grace.