On any given day, the students, staff and faculty of Wilber-Clatonia Public Schools normally wear green, abiding by school colors, that is.
But this November, the school is sporting blue in honor of Diabetes Awareness Month.
According to beyondtype1.org, there are multiple variations of the autoimmune disease of the pancreas, the most common being Type 1 and Type 2.
Along with many other health diagnoses, school nurse Myretta Whittington has seen a rise in diabetes at Wilber-Clatonia over the past few years.
“The best thing anyone can do is be supportive and educate themselves (about diabetes),” Whittington said.
Whittington observes diabetic students with a glucose monitor that connects to their insulin pumps via Bluetooth. From the device, she is able to watch blood sugar numbers throughout the eight-hour school day. That way, she doesn’t have to pull kids from class to read numbers.
“I try to keep the students in an educational setting as much as possible,” Whittington said. “Technology has improved the capability to monitor blood sugar.”
Whittington said when a student is diagnosed with diabetes, a diabetic management plan is created by their physician and distributed to the parents, school nurse, teachers and coaches to be educated and aware of needs and treatment.
Teachers are allowed to have a snack cupboard in their classrooms in case a student’s levels should drop or in case of an emergency situation.
According to medicalnewstoday.com, the normal blood sugar level for a person is between 70-120 milligrams/deciliter. If one’s body is unable to maintain these levels, they are diagnosed as diabetic and can lead to other complications.
“There are so many factors that can affect glucose levels, if a student is stressed, tired or even gets too excited,” Whittington said.
Shayli McCright is one Wilber-Clatonia student who was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes June 26 of this year.
Mom Jennifer Lytle said before her diagnosis, Shayli had been sick, was frequently thirsty and was rapidly losing weight.
“(Since the diagnosis) it makes me more prepared for later in life,” McCright said. “Now I wake up, do an insulin dose and check my blood sugar.”
According to Lytle, diabetes did not run in the family and before McCright was allowed to leave the hospital upon her diagnoses, all family members had to be educated about the disease.
“Her doctor said it probably started out as an infection,” Lytle said. “You learn a lot quickly and take your healthy children for granted.”
For McCright, who is in sixth grade, school days look a little different. She now carries snacks with her, monitors carb intake and blood levels throughout the day and gives herself insulin shots and fingerpricks.
She also has a diabetic service dog, named Bruno, in training.
Lytle said since the diagnosis, W-C has been helpful with the adjustments. Their family has also gotten involved in sponsoring JDRF, a nonprofit that funds research for Type 1 diabetes.
McCright said she’s learned a lot since the life-changing event and encourages anyone and everyone to educate themselves on diabetes.
“It’s very random. Look into it if you have time because you never know,” McCright said.