Earlier this week, I chatted with mom and author of This is Caleb, Lorraine Sisto, about preparing a child with diabetes and the school faculty for the upcoming school year. But I knew our story wouldn’t be complete without the perspective from a student as well. I was fortunate enough to speak with Lorraine’s 9-year-old son, Caleb, who is entering the 4th grade.
As I got to know him, I learned that his favorite subject is science, he enjoys making new friends, and loves to stay active with extracurricular activities like baseball, basketball, tap dancing, and most recently became interested in training to become a triathlete! Needless to say, Caleb is one amazing young man. Learn more as he shares his story about what it’s like to be a student with diabetes.
Q: Do your classmates and friends at school know that you live with type 1 diabetes?
A: Yup, they know. Every year my mom and I usually plan an event at school to celebrate World Diabetes Day where they get to learn about it so they don’t really ask me many questions. We always ask people to wear blue on that day.
See how Caleb and Lorraine celebrate World Diabetes Day at school in the pictures below or learn more on her blog here.
Q: What do you do to manage your blood sugar when you’re at school?
A: Well I’m the one starting to make the decisions at school now, instead of just the school nurse and my mom. Like, I check my blood sugar myself at different times throughout the day. To remind me when I need to check sugars, my watch beeps at set times throughout the day. I also check when my CGM buzzes high or low, or if I’m starting to feel low. If I am low, I carry around a case that is carbed-up, so I can just eat something from it. Then, I’ll check in about 15 minutes to make sure my numbers are coming up.
Q: Has diabetes created any challenges for you while at school?
A: There aren’t really any challenges while I’m at school because I’m getting older now and I know a lot more than I did when I was like, in first grade. Overall I’m more prepared, so no, not really many challenges.
Q: Who do you go to if you need something diabetes-related while you’re at school?
A: At school, there’s a phone in every room. Since I always have access to a phone, if I’m low I can call my mom and I’ll either suggest an idea and she’ll agree with it, or she might suggest something different. Then mom will text the nurse to tell her what we decided to do.
My siblings and I share an emergency phone that I get to take to school with me. So if something happens on my way to or from school, I can just call my mom.
Q: What is the most important thing you’ve learned about managing your blood sugar level at school?
A: Not to be shy to test my sugar around others. Since they know about it now, I can just be myself and test right in front of them, so I don’t need to be shy.
Q: Is there anything else you want to share?
A: I think it’s important for people to know that everyone, even if they have diabetes, can do anything they want. And if someone doesn’t know about diabetes, they should research it. Look at videos of people that are trying to create awareness and then they can create awareness as well!
Q: Just for fun, who is your favorite celebrity and why?
A: I have a lot of celebrities that I like. Like Nick Jonas who is a type 1 diabetic and a musician. Other people with diabetes like Cliff Scherb who is a triathlete, Gary Hall who is a professional swimmer and has won many gold medals in the Olympics, Phil Southerland who is a biker and founder of Team Type 1, and Kris Freeman who skis cross country. I like them all because they persevere at the things they do and they don’t give up just because their blood sugars may get in their way.
Lorraine mentioned in her interview that she wanted Caleb to be able to walk away from school realizing that he wasn’t that different from other students and the challenges aren’t too overwhelming. Based on Caleb’s contagious optimism and aspirations, I’d say that she is accomplishing her goal.
A special thanks to my new friend Caleb for chatting with me. It was a true joy getting to know him, and witnessing dedication and composure like that from someone at such a young age is beyond moving. He’s making such an impact on people (including myself) already, and I can’t begin to imagine what he’ll be capable of in the coming years.
Disclosure: Caleb received no compensation for this post. All opinions contained in this post reflect those of the interviewee, and not of Sanofi US, its employees, agencies or affiliates.