A Happy Surprise
My daughter came home from school with a gleam in her eye. Something special had happened and she couldn't wait to tell me what it was.
"This is for you mom," she said before giving me a huge hug.
"It's from Mrs. Elementary School Nurse."
"She was at the middle school today?"
"Yeah...she was subbing! Mrs. Middle School Nurse is still sick."
The grin was from ear to ear and I shared the excitement. Mrs. Elementary School nurse holds a very special place in both of our hearts. She semi-retired as my daughter finished third grade and they'd only seen each other once since then.
To every child at the school she was a competent, kind and gentle presence when they needed help. She'd often say, "For six hours a day, I'm like a mother to 200 children," and that's how she did her job.
To us, she was all of that and so much more. To be like a mother to my child was a lot to ask, and it was a lot to trust someone else to do.
My daughter was the first child with diabetes Mrs. Elementary School Nurse had cared for. She jumped right in, spending hours with me learning the details of what my child would need done in the nurse's office, and of what needed to be shared with the rest of the school's staff. She listened well, asked lots of questions, and considered us a team coming up with the best plan together. Probably most importantly to me, she had my phone number plastered all over the office (and quickly memorized) so that we could consult over any question or concern. She advocated for my daughter several times when I brought her stories of staff confusion over things like having enough time to eat lunch, or needing a buddy for a nurse's office trip. Over the years, we spoke regularly and got to know each other very well.
To my daughter, she truly became like family. They made up songs about blood sugar checking. They had oft-retold stories like the one about the time my daughter squeezed her finger and got blood on Mrs. Elementary School Nurse's white shirt. They shared stories about their lives, families, and weekends.
When she left the elementary school, there were tears from all three of us.
There are so many stories of things going awry when school and diabetes get put together. We've had a few of those ourselves. So we'll be forever thankful that in those first terrifying years of elementary school we were blessed with an amazing nurse. Her competent care eased my mind every day. The love with which she provided it added a special and lasting bond.