I saw an advertisement on TV for the Novolog insulin pen. It included a warning at the end that the insulin "May cause low blood sugar." Duh. Hopefully anyone using an insulin pen is aware that that is in fact the purpose of it. 



As a general rule, I am not fond of substitutes. Teachers know their students, they know when someone is faking it, and when they're not. So it didn't take me long to figure out that there was a substitute with a classroom of children walking all over her as I received note after note all day long with students. . "[Name] doesn't feel well," in handwriting I could barely decipher. I continually sent the students back to class - it honestly felt like I'd seen all 32 of the students in that class, but was particularly surprised (read: annoyed) when a student was sent down to the office with a note just 10 minutes before school let out: "Savannah's eyes hurt. She wants to wait for her mother in the office." What? Ten minutes before she'll see her mom anyway you will send a student down to the office just to sit, just as she'd be doing in class? No thanks...I sent the student back, and requested the secretary not use that substitute again.


Ask Questions

I walked into my office in Diabetic Land at lunch time to find a couple of students already in there resting. I let them be while I prepared for the tornado storm that arrives when both my diabetics, multiple kids demanding their Ritalin, and a variety of playground injuries all enter my office simultaneously. Once the tornado of students cleared, I noticed a little girl still on the cot, just as she'd been when I arrived 30 minutes earlier. I asked her what was wrong, and she said she had a headache. "Have you had lunch today, or anything to drink?," I asked. She said she had. "Well, what might be causing your headache, then?," I asked. She explained, matter-of-factly, "My head hurts because one of the other girls in the lunch room was calling me names." 

Ahhh, it all becomes clear. 

On a different note, the mess that is Spitfire diabetic's home life seems to be continuing, as she walked into my office proclaiming, "My family is just a mess." (She explained: her aunt's fiancee left her a month before the wedding.)


Red flags

Yesterday I was dealing with a frequent flyer in with his usual stomachache. At the end of recess, I sent him back to class, only to have him return a few minutes later. Before I could even ask why, he said, "I threw up in the bathroom and then I flushed it right away."  With his too-quick explanation, he earned himself a trip right back to class. 

Tip for kids: if you want out of class, don't raise any obvious red flags. Explaining why I can't see the vomit for myself before I even ask for it is a major one. (Having a stomachache every day during math is another one.)


Fitness testing

It's the 5th grade girls' least favorite time of the year...physical testing. There's several components to this including running a timed mile, counting sit-ups, and height and weight. The scale is in my office, so I have the privilege of recording the student's weights. I do my best to keep it totally confidential and calm as possible, but there's just no way to have a bunch of 11-12 year-olds getting weighed without being stressful for some. 

This year was just as unsuccessful as last year in attaining my "no tears" goal, as two of the three teachers came to me afterward to inform me that (through no fault of my own, they assured me), several students were in tears. In looking at the numbers, it's easy to see why: weights ranged from 62 lbs to 249.8. Do the math: there's a student four times the lightest one, and the distraught students were both on the high end and the low end of the spectrum. There's no easier bait for teasing than differences among physical appearances.

<sigh.> Sorry kiddos, the higher-ups require me to weigh you. My opinion: I'd rather spend the time actually doing something with the kids, e.g. on a nutrition lesson. The emphasis on testing, physical and otherwise, in schools is unreal.     


Sponsored Post: Uniformed Scrubs

I was asked to review a Cherokee scrub top provided by Uniformed Scrubs.  I don't always wear scrubs to work but since taking on my new middle school where the kids are in uniforms, it feels appropriate. The Cherokee scrub top I was given was a round neck, cute looking top...except it didn't fit me right. Oh well; I can be picky when it comes to scrub tops. In looking at their website, I see they have plenty of options to choose from. In being the cheapskate that I am, I went straight to the sale page and found a decent selection on sale. They carry a variety of brands but they also have a large selection of Cherokee brand scrubs, which for whatever reason, have always been my favorite. 

Uniformed Scrubs is also giving my readers a coupon code for any purchases you make. Just use "15pbrm" during checkout to receive 15% off your purchase. 

Disclosure: I received a Cherokee scrub top in exchange for this review, but the review is solely my own thoughts and opinion. 



Spitfire Diabetic, for weeks and months, had "Recess Academy." Students earn Recess Academy (RA) for not turning in homework, or assignments needing remediation. Instead of going to the classroom designated for RA after lunch, in place of recess, Spitfire began serving RA in my office after her insulin. My office isn't the somber mood of RA, and I know she was doing this to get out of a few minutes of RA. She still did work in my office, but certainly less than she would have had to do in RA. Finally, her teacher let her off RA last week. 

Come Friday, I helped with her insulin and told her to go have a nice recess. Instead, she chit-chatted and hung around my office until the secretary noticed her and told her to go "be a kid" for the last few minutes of recess.   

Come today, I had a headache. Spitfire can read me as well as I can read her, so I admitted I wasn't feeling well. She was as well behaved as ever, checked her blood sugar, went to lunch, and then came back. A friend had given her a bag of popcorn, and as I was peeling an orange, she pulled up a chair next to me. We spent her recess discussing our snacks, and when I heard her get a kernel stuck in her teeth, I asked if she needed floss. "Floss? Why would you have floss?" I told her my bag has a lot of magical things, including floss, and her eyes bugged out as I pulled some out like a magician pulling a rabbit out of a hat. 

I don't like that she's not playing around with the other kids at recess and instead choosing to hang out with the nurse, but at the same time, I can't help but want to give her the kind of attention that I am sure she doesn't get at home. As I mentioned earlier, it's a fine line I'm walking with her: being supportive and attentive without being her best friend. 



I call Spitfire diabetic "Spitfire" for good reason. The girl's in fourth grade but has the mouth of a sassy teenager, and a quietly sarcastic sense of humor to go with it. We usually have a good time, though I've certainly had to admonish her for various things (e.g., lying to me), and I know our time is important to her. Her home life is in a continuous state of disarray: a mother who's on marriage number three, except I'm not really sure if she's married because Spitfire's told me at various times that Stepdad's moved out and that Mom's dating her boyfriend from AA, a dad who won't go to classes at the endocrinology clinic so Spitfire can be on a pump, etc. I take that background into account when I deal with her, trying to walk the fine line of being on her side of things when I know she feels the rest of the world isn't, yet also being firm with her and not getting away with too much. 

She's a tough kid that can roll with the punches (and endless needlesticks) better than most, but I could tell immediately something was amiss when she walked into my office at lunch. Spitfire said she didn't feel well and wanted to go home; after she checked her blood sugar I told her to go to the cafeteria. She returned after lunch saying, "You can ask [the lunch lady], it's true, I threw up." 

Like most kids, she knows vomiting is her ticket out of school. I let her call home, betting that no one would pick up; I was right. I had to go back to another school site, but I told her she could stay in the office until her recess was over. I walked out to relay to the secretary that she'd be in there and explained why: "Supposedly she threw up." Even though I didn't believe she'd vomited, as soon as I said it, I knew it was a mistake. Spitfire heard me saying I didn't believe her. I walked back into the nurse's office, and she had a meltdown. The girl doesn't cry, but she did today. Ugh. I told her to feel better and that I hoped I'd see her tomorrow; then I left, feeling terrible. 


Poor baby :(

A little one came in first thing this morning complaining of a stomachache, which at that hour usually indicates one of two things: either the parent knowingly sent them to school sick or there is a quiz in class, or something of the sort, that they don't want to do. I asked his name and recognized it, because I had just met his father last week as I accepted medication for this little guy. He's new to the school, just started after spring break, and I asked him how he liked it here so far. "Not really," was his sad answer. He continued, "The other kids aren't friends with me." :(

I'm pretty good at keeping kids at school even when they don't want to be, but after what he said about not having friends here, and because I had met his father, I just let him call home. He's in third grade and his medical history includes diagnosis of a psychiatric disorder, and reportedly has hallucinations that cause him to hurt himself and others.



I had to talk to a teacher about the child whose name is a letter. When I looked him up in the computer system, I found it's worse than I'd thought: he's [Letter] [Letter] [Last Name] IV. That means there have been three earlier generations of these lettered men! I can only hope he changes it for his kids. 


Soapy mouth

I had a definite "oops" moment in my office today. I've been dealing with a mess related to a training I need to take, a mess that could have been avoided if a couple co-workers were...ahem...more team-oriented, and the frustration had been mounting until I voiced it to our lead nurse. "This is bullshit," I proclaimed while on the phone to her, right in front of a student waiting for his medicine. I can only hope I mumbled it badly enough that he didn't go home and tell his parent what he'd heard. 

I am nearly positive this child is old enough to know what I said, and I say so because of a story his teacher related to me earlier this year. He's a third grader, and the teacher was discussing blue moons with the class. When she asked the students what they thought a blue moon was, this little one raised his hand and said with confidence, "A beer!" 


Back in the saddle

Whew! It's already April. After spring break, it's easy to see summer on the horizon now, the light at the end of the tunnel. During my break I was catching up on old mail, and I was surprised to see a headline on the cover of California Educator, the magazine for members of the California Teacher's Association, entitled, "A Day in the Life of a School Nurse." I've been receiving this magazine since I started this job, and the vast majority of articles are pretty irrelevant for a school nurse. In fact, the only other article I remember reading in this magazine after almost 2 1/2 years was an article debating cursive lessons in classrooms. (Call me a dinosaur, I still prefer cursive.) I opened up the article and was even more surprised to find that the nurse highlighted works at my old high school in my hometown! Weird.

Click here to read the article for yourself. She has more students than I, but the rundown of her day sounds very familiar.

On a different note, I want to take a minute to say thank you to my readers for the kind words I get - both comments and emails. Even though I often don't respond, I so appreciate the support. :)