As I was preparing my lesson plans for next week, I had one of my random THAT’S MY NEXT BlOG moments. I know, I know, how on earth can doing a class lesson plan relate, in any way, to our diabetes blog? WWWeeelll, I was thinking about my young students who have been battling this crazy virus lately; 3 of which have come down with a rather high fever during the day, while in my care. I have a special place in my classroom (close to me) where I’ve been having them lay as they wait for their parents – isolated from the other children but still within my TLC.
>>>I must add here, none of the 3 were in the room during the time their ill classmates had a fever so they didn’t catch it from each other; and all items used were immediately removed by me and washed (in case some of you were gasping at my keeping my ‘babies’ in my room, under my overprotective care). <<<<
Okay, back to my original observations. Each of my sick ones immediately requested to hold onto Ruby the Diabetes Bear while they waited for their parent. Nikki came to speak at our school back in November; to help teach young kids about T1D. Ruby is one of the things she uses when she talks to young children. For anyone who may not know, years ago JDRF produced 2 bears – Ruby and Rufus the diabetes bears. Each of them has colorful patches on all the areas where a T1D child can receive injections/site insertions, etc. Each bear wears a Medic-Alert bracelet stating he/she has diabetes. Nikki used to give Ruby a shot whenever she got one of her many insulin injections - back when she was on what we called her N & R regimen (a manually mixed “cocktail” of long acting and fast acting insulin that had to be given through an injection 3 or more times per day.) Doing this was mentally helpful for Nikki – especially at such a young age. Ruby also helped prepare her for when she would eventually give herself her own injections; which she could do by the age of 7. Ruby was a very special friend to Nikki during a very fragile time.
Now, Ruby lives in my classroom for the majority of the year (she comes home in the summer) and is constantly encircled by tiny, loving hand. All of my students, past and present, LOVE playing with her. However, lately I’ve noticed my kiddos wanting to hold Ruby when they feel bad or when they are having a rough day. I asked one of my more precocious students – whom I cannot name, but I simply adore – what made her want to hold Ruby when she was sick. She replied “she made Nikki feel better so I knew she would help me too”. Whew, now that was a great moment. It means our efforts are paying off! It’s worth all the crazy questions and the stares in public (well, most of the time) to teach the next generation about diabetes. My young students aren’t afraid of Ruby the Bear because she has diabetes. Quite the opposite, they wanted the same comfort from Ruby that Nikki received at their age BECAUSE Ruby has diabetes.
My HOPE is that by the time they are old enough to really understand what diabetes is, it will be a ‘disease of the past’. AND maybe, just maybe, they will take some important life lessons and comforting childhood memories with them into adulthood. Lessons & memories instilled by a brave young girl and her stuffed bear named Ruby.