Monthly Archives: June 2015

Type 1 teacher – a massive post for a massive six months!

I recently just finished my first semester of teaching. It’s been a wild ride – my first term especially has blurred into one giant mess of late nights, early mornings, and crying to my KLA leader in the Languages office. I’ve learnt so much, not only about my job, but how my diabetes reacts to being on my feet from 7.30-4.30!
There are three main things that I’ve learnt about my diabetes these past six months, and in true teacher fashion I will list them, because lists are my addiction and the best thing ever. 
1. Lower stress levels = lower blood sugar levels 
I don’t care what some research papers say (that our levels only go up due to stress eating or burnout), the fact remains that in the first month and around report time, my levels were absolutely nuts, regardless of what I ate! I’m doing my Masters at the same time as working (I know, I’m insane) and having three assignments due at the same time as 150 reports was NOT conducive to perfect diabetes control. Handy hint – if you want to increase your hba1c in a few weeks, writing reports, lesson plans, and 3000 word assignments at the same time is the way to do it.
2. Students surprise you.
The hardest part I’ve found so far about being a teacher with type 1 is having to be “on” the entire time, even when your blood sugar is plummeting and you can see your hands shaking as you write the date on the board. However, my fears of having a hypo while the kids destroyed the classroom and each other were quickly put to rest. It surprised me how understanding they were when I explained why we were doing a quiet writing activity. A quick “Guys, I’m diabetic and my blood sugar is really low, I need you to finish off this exercise quietly while I drink this juice” is usually all it took. The one or two students who acted up would quickly be peer pressured into behaving by the others because “Miss doesn’t feel well! Don’t be stupid!” I’m lucky to have a good relationship with my kids, and I’ve learnt to never assume their reaction to anything. They also can guess when I’m low – I teach French, and when I forget the word for “door” or “listen”, they know something is up! They’re not perfect angels by any means, but they’re respectful and great kids!
3. Diabetes prepares you for the classroom.
How does it prepare you? Teachers and diabetics both spend their days juggling about a million things at once – having five years experience of the constant diabetes internal monologue (“Am I low? Did I over bolus? Will I walk home? Should I set a temp basal now or later? What if it rains?”) prepares you for the teacher internal monologue that happens throughout your entire day. My brain during the school day now looks something like this: 

  
And sounds like this: 

“Leave room on the board for the brainstorm later”

“Ugh what is that smell”

“Is that blood on my top?!”

“Check in on that back row”

“Cold call Bob for the next question he’s getting too comfy over there ”

“Oh my god WHAT is that smell”

“Oh gosh this writing is sloping downwards, am I low?”

“No time no time we need to get through this today”

“Ok you just dropped the worksheets, you’re low”

“Peer learning time aka hypo treatment time!”
I’m still making so many mistakes but I’m learning! If there’s a Melbourne high school teacher out there with type 1, let’s grab coffee. 

#actuallydiabetic and art that stays with you.

This hashtag is one of millions on the blogging site tumblr, and it’s full of hundreds of type 1 young people, just sending our thoughts off into the internet, reblogging each other’s syringe and pump selfies, and basically supporting each other in a way that is uniquely our generation i.e. 90s babies.

While scrolling through the posts tonight, I happened upon these pictures that I LOVE.

fridge pumpfinalll

Credit: Erin Lux - erin-lux.tumblr.com http://www.inprnt.com/gallery/erinlux/

Credit: Erin Lux – erin-lux.com/insulin
http://www.inprnt.com/gallery/erinlux/

It’s created by Erin Lux  in a series called insulin. It’s simple, makes me feel something, and stays with me. Now, I’m not an art critic, but I think that’s what art is meant to do. The insulin in the butter compartment, my pump lying next to me as I sleep, testing in your own little bubble as the world carries on around you…these images are snapshots of my life with diabetes – simple, understated, and a constant.

Blessings, opportunities, and excitement!

This week I was invited to speak at a Parliamentary dinner in Canberra, representing the Young Leaders of Diabetes Australia. I know right, how lucky am I?

Being the political nerd that I am, I asked them to put me on an early flight so I had time to squeeze in as many different Canberra touristy things as I could before the dinner. I saw an old high school friend who’s a law student at ANU, went to the National Gallery, the National Portrait Gallery, and squeezed in a tour of Old Parliament House, where the average age of the other participants was probably around 65. They may have given me an education on 70s technology as we walked through the old offices (“Wait what’s a word processor? Like Microsoft Word?”)

I have never been as nervous as I was last night. It’s very intimidating, making small talk with people who are the experts in their field. It puts different life stages into perspective, especially when they talk about flying out to the ADA Conference in Boston later this week and I was trying to contain my excitement about the complimentary wifi and chocolates at the hotel. Speaking in front of them? Terrifying.

(Guys, Bill Shorten was there. Leader of the Opposition. I got star struck and just thought about all the things I would like to say, most notably “Can you tell Tanya Plibersek that I’m her biggest fan”)

One of the people I was sitting next to said “Just pretend they’re your students”, which made it a little easier. In classic diabetes timing, I hypoed just before my speech and scoffed an entire bag of lolly frogs, to the amusement and concern of the people at my table, doing my speech at around 4.2. Hey, if I passed out from a low blood sugar, a function hosted by Diabetes Australia was the best place to do it! Diabetes always chooses the best times to rear its head. Big love to Renza who had a flight to catch but stayed until the last possible second to give me a good luck hug and watch most of my speech. Thank you, you fantastic human being!

I believe that my speech got my message across, as I had many conversations afterwards with people who were kind enough to congratulate and compliment me. I think it was filmed, which hopefully I never see because I am inherently critical of myself and no doubt will want to get up and do it again – English teacher at heart! I had incredibly exciting and stimulating conversations with a variety of people who were generous enough to ask me to contact them to get some projects rolling in regards to mental health and diabetes, especially in the online sphere.

I made some fantastic connections, and I’m just so excited to have been given this platform to talk to these people who are in positions that can help make my goals an actual reality. I’ve been plugging away at this since last year, but haven’t made a lot of outward progress as working, studying a Masters degree, and bad health are sort of a no productivity trifecta. We have a general plan, but between me and the other girls, bad health, university degrees, and a baby have all slowed things down (which it absolutely should – congratulations Lisa!).

I now have the opportunity to get the ball rolling again, and I am beyond excited.

Thank you to Renza for taking this photo! Also, a a shout-out to my Irish skin for being as pale as the white backdrop.

Thank you to Renza for taking this photo! Also, a shout-out to my Irish skin for being as pale as the white backdrop.