As Games of Thrones fans regularly state: winter is coming. In fact I would like to take sole responsibility for the unusually warm weather we have experience on the Yorkshire coast this last week after following the worst winter ever stories in the news and putting my winter tyres on early. It has not quite reached winter coat weather yet. (A winter coat is a thick water proof coat, usually with a fleece zipped inside, which will keep you warm when standing outside on a playground for 30minutes considering whether Siberia is warmer than the school playground.)
As a primary school teacher Autumn brings one of the harder terms of the school year, not only do I need to train a new class, but I also need to remember how to get up for work after six weeks of holidays. I need to ensure that my basal rate matches my now active lifestyle and my carbohydrate to insulin ratio is correct for carbohydrate heavy school dinners. Small things such as ensuring my work clothes still fit (after six weeks of eating when I want instead of shoving biscuits in my mouth in my cupboard when I have time) to the bigger demands of ensuring that I don’t loose any children during the day. From 8:30am until 3:30pm I don’t have time to think about myself. My focus is ensuring the welfare of 30 plus children. I don’t have time to go to the toilet, get myself a drink or even test my blood sugar. Suddenly life becomes crazy. Once life becomes hectic I find diabetes enjoys saying hello and reminding me of it’s presence.
If you have never experienced a day in a primary classroom, then I beg you to volunteer for a day. It is relentless. At any time I can be trying to complete at least three different activities and that is before we have started to have one table making coil thumb pots, another table adding six digit numbers and another investigating the best biscuit for dunking. All while making sure none of the stick insects escape. Yes, a primary classroom is full on. Yes, it is stressful and… Yes, you need to bring your A game every single day. There is no rest for the wicked, or for teachers. While doing this I also have my diabetes to contend with. I know when I can test – play time, lunch time and after school. So, how do I manage in between? The freestyle libre has been a game changer. I can quickly flash myself in the cupboard (scan my sensor, nothing rude), view my trend arrow and take action. My classroom is a shrine to lucozade. I have half empty lucozade bottles on most surfaces to allow me to quickly treat a hypo. I can’t stop my job because I’m low. I can’t get rid of 30 children. I have to make sure that I can continue. I’ve found that for outdoor PE and trips then Torq gels are the best things to carry and use. They act fast and provide 28.8g of carbohydrate. When we are on our “hills near where I live” walking tour then I am responsible for those children and I’m not sure a parent would enjoy the excuse of “I was hypo and then I lost your child”.
Winter PE is one of my least favourite things. I’m blaming diabetes for this, but it could just be me. My circulation is terrible. My hands and feet are constant blocks of ice during the winter (and during the summer). In bed I’ll wear socks and gloves to keep warm. Standing outside for an hour and fifteen minutes battling mild hypothermia is not how I enjoy spending one day each week. It has become a running joke between myself and the other teacher about how many layers I will have on each week. He will be dressed like a normal person; I will have ski trousers, base layers, fleeces, hoodies, snow boots, gloves and hat on. I will still be cold. Perhaps this is not diabetes related, but I’ve begun to realise that keeping warm is important. As soon as I become cold I cannot warm up, it makes me feel ill and wipes me out. If someone can explain why to me I would love to know. Therefore preparation is key. Other people may be happy to forget their layers. I will return home at lunch instead of facing the cold unprepared.
Finally, once I have returned inside the warm classroom, I am faced with a hot bed of germs.
Snot, coughing, sneezing, nose picking, licking pencils and rulers (this happens). There is no escape. I keep hand gel on my desk and my class find it hilarious that even after marking a book I will hand gel, but it is like making your way through a lazer quest maze. The germs are every where and I seem to pick them all up. Most other teachers have a sore throat, I will get tonsillitis. The cough that a child has, I will get a chest infection. As much as I try my body loves to take an illness and make it worse. Once again diabetes is reminding me that it is here.
Diabetes doesn’t stop me from being effective at my job. It does however ensure I am prepared and organised. Thanks to diabetes I love to be organised, know what I’m doing and when I’m doing it. As a result my Teaching Assistant is in awe of my organised boxes of resources, Monday’s lesson laid out ready to go and the back up resources hidden in the cupboard. I suppose always packing double sets of everything for a holiday, keeping snacks on me at all times and organising pre-bolus or multi-wave bolus’ has made me very organised. For that even though diabetes makes the winter hard, at least I’m organised.