School days by Helen Whitehouse


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“OOH! Why are you putting that in your arm?” is the question most commonly asked as I carefully, yet expertly (I hope) jam the needle into the upper flesh of my arm. It’s lunchtime entertainment for many of the students at my school. Personally, I don’t see what the attraction is really, but hey, that’s just me.

School has well and truly re-started and we are once again, thrown into epic turmoil. Maybe it’s the getting up at ridiculous hours; crawling out of bed just to put on slightly dodgy uniform; trying to stick down the bits of your hair that have defied gravity and are now ruining the perfect fluid lines of your fringe, then throwing yourself out of the door and onto a bus that stops 15 billion times – you know, just general mornings. You arrive at school having forgotten something important, stumble through 5 hours of lessons to go home and continue the torment with homework. Ahh, good times!

It has to be said though; it’s highly entertaining at lunch time. Because it’s sort of cold now – and jumpers are the height of uncool – we all gather in the hall and push the tiny exam desks together to create something comparable to, well, a massive table. Everything is pretty normal until I whip out my infamous diabetes kit.

It goes like this; first, I test my blood. At the sight of a tiny blotch of blood, you get a sort of ominous murmur. This becomes ever more ominous as I lick my finger to get rid of the blood. But then the epitomes of ominous murmurs happen when I dial up my pen and inject.

Some of the more adventurous ones probe with questions. A few of the most common ones are “Why are you putting that in your arm?” and “Does it hurt a lot? Where does it go?”, and not forgetting my particular favourite, “What would happen if you injected me?”

I try to answer these questions with extreme nonchalance, because of course diabetes is a serious matter, but sometimes you’ve can’t help and reply “Well, it doesn’t hurt that much, but sometimes it worries me when I see the needle going through the other side of my arm….”

They reply with stunned syllables, sort of awkwardly looking at their feet. Oh yes, you get some great respect until everything gets added up and they realise that a 6mm needle can’t come through the other side of an arm!

Well, it’s the start of a new school year but it’s ever apparent that things don’t really change.

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Ah what a great post!

I was diagnosed at age eight, and I dealt with those questions at school, kids asking questions all the time. I also had kids trying to pretend to be diabetic, quite hilarious now I think about it, but at the time I was not impressed.

I look forward to reading more of your posts :)

I love your blog!!
I am a mum to a type 1 5yr old diabetic daughter (I am not diabetic) and often wonder how she will cope as she grows. I have to say..you have solely put my mind slightly more at ease. It is a serious condition and should never be taken lightly, but having a sense of humour about it it must make it more manageable (at least in your mind)!! She already takes a lot of responsibility..far too much for a 5year old, but that goes with the job, but I am so grateful to hear someone see the lighter side of Diabetes rather than only talking about all of the doom and gloom. Well done and keep it up.
Thank you for your blog, and I think I may well be an avid reader, if this one is to go by. THANK YOU!! x x

Just loved your story line. As someone who has spent the last 54 years in school (the last 17 as principal) I can tell you that your use of English is first rate!!!!!!!

Seriously thought, while it might not look like it – you are educating your peers. Keep it up.

Cearapeter