November 14 is the official day for Diabetes Awareness and diabetic students Kara Murphy (11), Alexis Shrader (10), and Autumn Jesse (12) plan to make the word known around school. They’ve hung up posters around the school and wore the color blue, the official color.
The girls’ daily routine begins with them checking their blood sugar in the morning. Depending on the girl, some can last a few hours without checking while others have to check almost every hour. Each of the girls are required to check their blood sugar with the nurse every day before and after lunch. If their sugar is too high, they are sent home.
With this disease, they are prone to get sick quicker. “I have been in the hospital for ten days with pneumonia, and the school counted those days as absences,” Murphy says. “The school and I fought a long time when Kara was in the hospital. It was so unfair.” Brooke Plott (nurse) says.
Throughout the years, each of the girls has been dealing with people’s misconceptions throughout their life. “I have been bullied for having diabetes,” Murphy states. “My pod will sometimes go off in class to let me know that I need to check my blood sugar, and students will be like Is that a bomb?’ and all of the kids would laugh. I’ve explained what it actually is but some still continue to make jokes about it. My doctors have even told me that I probably shouldn’t play sports because it (diabetes) will get in the way. It really hurts.” Plotts says that the biggest misconception is that people think only bigger people can only have diabetes. The truth is, anyone can get type one diabetes.
Shrader has also faced judgment against diabetes. “People will come up to me and just say stupid things like ‘imagine having diabetes’ or if I’m having a bad day and others can tell they’re like ‘you should probably go check your sugar’ and stuff like that. Whenever we have a treat or something in class, everyone will be like ‘you can’t have that can you?’ or they just assume you can’t and skip me.”
Jessee says, “I have never really been criticized, but there are people with stigma and try to tell me how to manage my diabetes. A lot of people like to give input into how I should eat and live my life, and that is more annoying than anything. The only way to stop things like that is to educate them though. It’s important for people to know that diabetics can eat what they want as long as they do it responsibly. We can’t eat a batch of cookies every day, but one every now and then doesn’t hurt.”
Even though the girls have been told many harsh judgements, they break those stereotypes every day. Nurse Brooke Plott states, “They face so much judgement, but I always tell them that they could anything any other person can. Like Kara was told she couldn’t do cross country but look at her. She also does basketball and gymnastics. You’ve got Alexis doing cheer. You’ve got Autumn doing theater. They are capable of doing anything they dream of doing.”
Each of the girls believe that diabetes isn’t taken as seriously as other health problem in the media. “People don’t take this seriously because we’re so strong, and we don’t let others see how it affects us because we still manage to be just like everyone else. No one takes the time to learn about it,” Shrader says.
Shrader has the shortest amount of time with diabetes. She’s only been diagnosed for three years is still learning to deal with it. “It was very hard for me to wrap my head around that I will have this for the rest of my life, and that it won’t get easier.”
Plott has been taking care of the girls ever since she switched from being a hospital nurse to a school nurse. “I help the girls check their blood sugar, help them count carbs,” she states. “I also like to ask how their day is going and like to help them with any issues besides maintaining their diabetes.”
The girls claim she’s done an exceptional job of helping them maintain their diabetes. “Brooke helps me because she understands and gets to know the ins and outs of diabetes and ins and out of our diabetes. Every diabetic is different and has different needs. Brooke learns our patterns and what diabetes is to each of us.” Jessee says.
Plott has made a huge impact on how the girls not only deal with their disease physically but mentally as well. “The nurse has helped me so much. I can literally talk to her about anything and she will give advice or help me in any way I need. She helps me with my homework, she helps me with my drama, she also helps me understand that I have to stay at the top of my game with my diabetes because it is life or death. She’s the best. I wouldn’t be able to get through this without her,” Shrader says.
Although the girls have gone through a lot, they still keep pushing on. “Am I going to dwell on this for the rest of my life, or am I going to make something good of it? I could be a doctor and possibly find a cure for it. You just have to find the good in everything. This is what God gave me and I have to learn to deal with it.” Murphy says.