Our kidlet is starting secondary (high) school next year. Her parents are totally in denial about this – we keep looking at photos of her from five or six years ago, pretending she is only in her first years of primary school. This works perfectly until we actually look at her today – tall and lanky and tweenager-y – and realise that denial can only take us so far!
The other night, we attended an orientation evening at her new school. As we were rushing about getting ourselves organised and out the door to get there on time, I was mainlining water and continuing to rage bolus my way through awfully high glucose levels. The throat infection I’ve had for a couple of weeks seemed worse and was absolutely kicking my arse. Apart from a milky coffee in the morning, I’d had no carbs all day, and yet each time I looked at my iPhone for my CGM number I was furious.
At one point, I blinked away tears as I saw another number in the high teens and a stubborn, perfectly-straight CGM trace that was stuck in the yellow zone of the graph.
My mantra of ‘it’s just a number’ wasn’t cutting it. The razor-blades in my throat were agonising and my legs and arms were achy – a combination of a low-grade fever and high-grade molasses pulsing through my veins. I threw back a couple of Nurofen, chugged a large glass of water and we piled out the door and into the car.
We got to the school and the kidlet found one of her friends and we all settled in the beautiful school library, waiting to hear about the school’s transition program and what our kids could expect as Year 7 students next year.
The move to this new environment is made as smooth as possible for the students, however there was a lot of acknowledgement from the Principal and the year level coordinator that it would be different and challenging time, as well as a chance for some terrific opportunities.
The Principal said some really soothing and encouraging words – for the benefit of both the new students and their equally (perhaps more?) anxious parents. It was lovely to hear about the supportive and inclusive environment on which the school prides itself, and the initiatives and activities they undertake to help the students become part of the school community.
But the words that struck me most and made me think that we had made a really good decision about this particular school came when he was speaking about exams, tests and assessments.
He acknowledged that getting results for assessments can be a little nerve-wracking at times and that it is perfectly normal to feel some level of anxiety. And then he said ‘But a result is just a snapshot in time. It does not determine where you are going.’
I looked over at our girl then and saw her listening intently. She has heard us say similar things before in relation to school tests and she has heard me say it a lot of times in relation to diabetes numbers.
As the Principal continued talked about the school, I stole a look at my phone for my CGM and saw the number 19.6 looking at me. I recognised the anxiety I had been feeling earlier was two-fold: anger at being high and the lousy feeling that comes with it. But also the fear of high numbers as a long term problem. Subconsciously, the inextricable link between high numbers and complications lurks, littering my mind with fear.
It doesn’t matter how much I know about complications and improvements in management, that fear is always there. I know about how much better the outcomes related to complications are these days for people with diabetes when compared with ten, twenty, forty, fifty years ago – I still am terrified. And never more so than when I am high.
I took a deep breath and returned my phone to my handbag. In my head I repeated the words the Principal had just said a few moments earlier and felt myself breathing easier. ‘It’s just a snapshot in time. It does not determine where I am going.’ I said it again. And again. And again. Until I almost started to believe it. Almost.