Diabetes Forecast

Guardian Angel

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School secretary Jackie Hancock and Meredith Jeffery.

When our 10-year-old daughter, Meredith, was diagnosed two years ago with type 1 diabetes, I was really concerned that I would have to undertake the challenging process of diabetes education not only within my own household but also at her elementary school. How could I explain giving shots and dealing with carbohydrate ratios when I barely understood those things myself?

It was such a daunting worry—until I called the school secretary, Jackie Hancock, on the way home from Meredith's hospital stay. Jackie's a great lady and wonderful secretary, but when it comes to diabetes, all I can say is: She's an angel and powerhouse.

ackie quickly suggested that I come in to talk about Meredith's care. For whatever reason, our school, Spring Mills Elementary, has had its share of kids with diabetes over the past 10 years. Jackie, whose late father had type 2 diabetes, has taken it upon herself to make sure those children are safe at school.

Still skeptical after the phone call, I wondered: Does she really know what to do? When I got to school, Jackie already had a special binder prepared. Decorated with Meredith's favorite colors and theme (princesses), it had sheets for recording blood glucose, carbs, juice given, treats, etc. Jackie knew shots, testing for ketones—all of it. When Meredith went on the pump recently, no problem: Jackie learned it with us. She seems to take it all in stride.

Safe at School
The American Diabetes Association's Safe at School Campaign offers information about caring for children with diabetes, including training resources for school staff, at diabetes.org/safeatschool.

Jackie Hancock's care goes beyond the routine maintenance of diabetes. When Meredith kept going low recently, Jackie and I were on the phone constantly, as she never wanted to do the wrong thing. She insisted that Meredith sit on her lap as she finished her lunch, "just so I could feel that her shaking was ebbing." Because the kids with diabetes get multiple snacks throughout the day, she checks on them to make sure they are bolusing properly. Not an easy task when the rest of the school is calling on her as well. Jackie always has juice boxes, bottles of water, and sources of quick glucose on hand in case the ones I provide run out.

That in-school birthday party that I knew nothing about? No worries. I think Jackie knows the carb count for every treat, but she'll search in the trash for the packaging if she's unsure. Always there, always caring.

I know that I have a very special person taking care of my daughter at school. In fact, I'm nervous about Meredith leaving next year for middle school, because I'm not sure there's another Jackie out there in our school district. I'm hoping that Jackie's attention to detail has been instilled in my daughter and that Meredith can take that training with her as she moves on.

There's no doubt that my daughter's success on the pump and her great A1C numbers have had a lot to do with her success in school. There's also no doubt that our angel and powerhouse, Jackie Hancock—the kind of person who often goes unnoticed—is a huge part of that success.

Jeanne Jeffery
lives in Highland, Mich., with her husband, Ray, and their children, Hannah, Franklin, and Meredith.

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