School Days – By Rachel



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School days.. we all have memories, good and bad of those days. The recent make the grade campaign has had me looking back to my own school days and both reminiscing on memories but also wondering how I would have handled being diagnosed back then.

I had my fair share of school day issues as it was.

One of my earliest of all school memories was my first nativity play. It was raining hard outside and I was bored as the angel Gabriel stood on a balance beam at the back of the stage. I guess I must have come over desperate for the loo but mid play couldn’t ask to go, but whatever happened, the end result was a large puddle on the floor! I got away with it for a while as it was right in front of the window
which the teachers assumed had leaked with the heavy rain. I think I got caught eventually though!!

At around the same time in primary school my Mum started to suspect I was diabetic although doctors failed to diagnose me. I was constantly thirsty and she still talks about how she could never leave the house without taking a supply of drink for me! My memories of school back then were of always being thirsty and of arguing with teachers about whether I could have a drink between classes. Its hard not to look back now and question why those teachers didn’t ask themselves why I was so thirsty rather than tell me off for it!

We were only supposed to have food and drink at lunch time but they did have a sink in the craft room which usually had a nice coating of old clay and paper mache on it, with a couple of, looking back on it now, very unhygienic beakers to grab a drink from. I hated it, the water tasted funny and the beakers weren’t very nice. But I was always so thirsty I often had to drink!

By secondary school I had other teacher run ins! My PE teacher couldn’t stand me and tried her best to make life miserable for me. I could never quite work out what her problem was at the time but looking back now I’m guessing the fact that I beat her several years in a row at our local tennis club tournament probably didn’t help!

After a few different run ins she banned me from PE altogether which I’m pretty sure was illegal! But apparently I could hit a ball too hard and I was considered dangerous to the other students. I still haven’t been able to work out how that qualified me to be banned from non ball sports though!

Apparently my ability to hit a ball hard didn’t stop her, however, from installing me in the sixth form tennis team when it came down to them winning the inter school cup! That doesn’t sound such a bad thing until I mention that I was only in the 4th year at the time! She actually schooled me in lying about my age because she was so determined the school should win and apparently I was their secret weapon.

School days, you’ve gotta love em! Actually, I didn’t really and at 15 I became quite seriously ill (not with diabetes), and ended up having to be home schooled for a while. I expected my school to support me and help me out but they didn’t. I was pretty much abandoned and forgotten about so I cant imagine being diabetic would have been much fun back then!

I can only remember maybe 1 or 2 teachers out of a dozen or more over the years who I actually think would have been concerned enough about diabetes to help care for and support a student. Most wouldn’t have cared less and probably wouldn’t have had much clue where to start in the care of a diabetic! There must have been diabetics at the school whilst I was there but I would not have a clue what they did about their care!

I can remember there being a school nurse but her duties seemed more inclined to the odd bumped knee and demonstrating female hygiene products in special girl only lessons! She certainly had no questions about my thirst or anything else! I have quite a funny image in my head of rocking up with an insulin pen or other meds and her just looking at me blankly with a side order of panic!

So yes, I am very glad my diagnosis came later, after I had left! I pity any diabetic who was there throughout those years. I sincerely hope things have drastically improved!

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