Hypoglycemia in the Classroom
The thing about teaching is that you’re so active for the entire day you forget to stop and take care of yourself. For me, this was never truer than during a jam-packed day last April.
I careened into the 10th-grade English classroom after lunch with all the grace of a baby hippo. As soon as I started to speak, I knew something wasn’t quite right. “OK guys, I just need you to…”
I froze. What was the word? That thing you do when you need to read your book? You grab the cover…
“Open our books?” a student volunteered.
“Yep, thanks man. Now just bring up Google Classroom and you’ll see a…”
My mind stopped, and my tongue went numb. What was that file called? Not a presentation, but a…
“PowerPoint?” piped up another student.
The boys in the back snickered. “Big night last night, Miss?”
I looked down at my shaking hands. My breathing quickened. I could already feel the telltale hypoglycemia sweat trickling down my back.
And then came this sickening realization: There were no hypoglycemia treatments in my pencil case. I had subtly treated a low the week before and forgotten to replenish my supplies. The only thing standing between me and the floor was the mercy of my students.
“OK, someone needs to go on an adventure to the staff room, grab the pink bag on my desk, and come back here as quickly as possible. My blood glucose is really low.”
The class went quiet—a feat unto itself. If lows are good for one thing, it’s silencing 16-year-old boys. One of the few girls in my class jumped out of her seat and ran out of the classroom.
“Correct your homework with the person next to you while I get myself together.” Saying that sentence was like wading through mud.
Student of the Day rushed back with my bag. I threw jelly beans down my throat and sat at my desk, willing my body to work.
Ten minutes later, I was ready to go, with an intact classroom and mostly unfazed students. They were blasé in the best possible way: no fighting, arguing, or throwing objects across the room. They accepted the situation, which is what many of us with type 1 diabetes want when we’re low.
No drama, no judgment. Just everyone getting on with their day while making an allowance or two.
Georgie Peters is an Australian high school teacher in her mid-20s who has type 1 diabetes and an undying love of coffee. She blogs at lazypancreas.wordpress.com, and puts her addiction to the internet to good use as the Social Media Manager of Diabetes and Eating Disorders Awareness (DEDA). She loves writing, Netflix binges, her job, and diabetes camps.
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