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World Diabetes Day hits home for Madison students

Students on several campuses of Madison City Schools will observe World Diabetes Day on Nov. 14 by wearing blue. Numerous students deal with the disease every day.

Currently, Madison City Schools has 27 students who are Type 1 diabetics, registered nurse Bonnie Davis said. She serves as the district’s nursing supervisor. Seven students are in elementary schools, two each at the middle schools, 13 at Bob Jones High School and two at James Clemens High School.

Several Madison students have Type 2 diabetes, Davis said. “Students with Type 2 diabetics must monitor his/her diet and blood sugar, but their disease does not have to be monitored as closely.”

One in nine Alabamians has diabetes. With diabetes, the body does not produce or effectively use insulin to process consumed sugar. If untreated, diabetes possibly can lead to kidney disease, blindness, high blood pressure, depression and other problems (worlddiabetesday.org).

Davis describes students with diabetes as “normal kids. They just happen to have a disease that they must manage 24/7, 365 days/year.” Many students participate in sports, band, drama and numerous other extracurricular activities.

“If a student has been recently diagnosed, it is a life-altering event,” Davis said. “Literally overnight, an otherwise healthy student and his/her family has to learn to test blood sugar, calculate how much insulin is needed, give insulin shots and manage blood sugars if they become too low or too high.”

Even students who have had diabetes many years often still “struggle with feeling different from peers and having to manage diabetes throughout the day,” Davis said.

Fortunately, each campus in Madison City Schools has a school nurse to help diabetic students manage their care. “We work with the parents and the physician to ensure that our students with diabetes are monitored at school, during field trips, extracurricular activities, including athletics,” Davis said.

Symptoms of diabetes widely vary but include frequent urination, excessive thirst, increased weight loss and hunger, excessive fatigue and blurred vision. Individuals with diabetes have slower healing wounds and are prone to infections.

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