Sally Goes to School
By Joan Fleitas

This is a story about a third grade student on her first day of a new school year. Sally has just turned eight years old, and she is starting school after having had a pretty exciting summer. During the summer, she found out that she had a medical problem called diabetes. Diabetes is not about dying, like it sounds. It's about living, and Sally was learning to live with it. Though the story is make-believe, "Sally's" experience is much like that of hundreds and hundreds of kids her age who told me what it was like for them...

This is what happened. Have you ever heard of a part of your body called the pan-cre-as? This pancreas has an important job to makes something called Insulin. Insulin helps our bodies to use the foods that we eat. People who have diabetes like Sally have pancreases that have forgotten how to make this important liquid. Lucky for Sally that we know how to make Insulin so that her body can get what it needs. It gets this Insulin from a tiny needle, sometimes a couple of times a day. Now this is not fun, but if you asked, Sally would tell you that it's not the worst thing in the world, either.

Because Insulin helps to digest food, and food helps her to grow, Sally has to remember to eat foods that are good for her, not foods that are junky. Then she has to figure out just how much Insulin her body needs, so she tests her blood a couple times a day. Too little Insulin is not good. And too much is not good either. So I bet you can imagine that having diabetes is hard work. When you have a lot of hard work to do like keeping healthy when you have diabetes, it really helps to have good friends. Friends who don't tease about it. Friends who want to learn more about it. And friends who understand that Sally is still the same 'ole Sally that she always was, and that that's just how she wants to be treated. 

So on with her story. I'm glad that you came to visit and I hope that you will be, too. All of the pictures were drawn by third grade students after they read "Sally Goes to School".

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Joan Fleitas, Ed.D., R.N.
Associate Professor of Nursing, Lehman College, CUNY
Bronx, New York 10468

Last updated: November 14, 2004