Thursday, February 26, 2009

Teaching to Excess

Well, the lousy economy has hit the school district. We found out today in a faculty meeting that 2 of our primary grade positions are being "excessed" (cut due to declining funding, meaning much larger classes next year) and that at least 2 other staff members are being RIF'd (Reduction in Force, which is essentially a pink slip). Our school is not taking anywhere near the hit that others are - there are some schools losing up to 20 teachers. That would be almost our entire faculty! The "excessed" teachers will be placed in other spots, but at other grade levels and most likely other schools. RIF'd teachers have to wait to see what positions end up being left open once other shuffles take place; it's based on last-hired, first-fired. In the past, all the RIF'd teachers have been offered positions before the next school year, but many left to take a secured job in other districts. There haven't needed to be RIFs for several years in my district, or in any others around here that I am aware of. The amazing growth of Maricopa County kept schools booming and teaching jobs were plentiful, until the housing market tanked. Now we have too many houses and too many teachers.

I'm thankful to have my position secured after 5 years at my school. However, I am very sad that one of my compatriots will be moving to an intermediate grade and that my lovely little group of 22 second graders will be an oversized class of 30 or more next year. Despite "research" to the contrary, size DOES matter when it comes to teacher/student ratio.

Arizona is the home of the nation's highest kidnapping rate and the nation's 48th-lowest per-pupil funding rate. A correlation between violent crimes and poor education? Fairly well documented. Why can't the "powers that be" see that an investment in kids NOW will pay immeasureable dividends LATER? I'm not saying, "Pay me more money." I'm saying, "Keep teachers in the classrooms so that we have the ability to make a difference!"

Friday, February 20, 2009

Assorted Ramblings

Hello, Gentle Reader. (notice, not plural, because I think there's only one of you out there...which is OK with me.) I am guilty of Blog Neglect, but since I said from the get-go that I knew this would happen, you can't be too upset with me. I hope.

Item 1. Being sick stinks. Being the sick mom stinks more, because the stuff that needs done doesn't magically get done on its own or stop needing to be done. Being a sick schoolteacher mom really, really, stinks, because it requires a lot of planning ahead - and I don't get a lot of personal forewarning that I am going to be sick. Now with the daughter, the blood sugar spikes out of nowhere are a nice warning sign of impending illness....but I don't have it, so no warnings for me. I'm feeling nasty and sorry for myself and cranky and all sorts of unpleasant, so if you want to stop now, that's understandable.

Item 2. I started, with the help of a good friend, trying to rearrange and remove a lot of junk from my house. My dear husband and I come from long, well-established families of pack rats. And when I say pack rats, I mean "keep everything that ever crosses the threshold because we may need it some day or it may be worth money or someone will want it as soon as we purge it" pack rats. We spent a large portion of a lovely, slightly chilly afternoon dragging boxes and piles and bags of stuff out of my living room, and my "guest" room. It hasn't been able to host a guest since the Remodel From Hell began 2 years ago; a good portion of my kitchen is still stored there, or now, in my driveway. Then the sickness descended, and now I have a half-empty room and a half-full carport. Rather than sorting and discarding, I am catching up on blogging. Sensible, no?

Item 3. The long-awaited Navigator arrived, we have been trained, and MissyMiss is now wearing the transmitter on her arm and carrying the receiver in her pocket, ignoring the alarms and setting the language to Czechoslovakian or some other foreign script when I am not around to fix it. We had the trainer come over on Monday, and put in the first sensor. That may not sound like a huge ordeal to anyone who hasn't had to have a fist-sized plastic box pressed up against your abdomen and felt the "cha-thunk" of the wire being injected into the squish of your belly. It did turn out to be less painful that she expected and had worked herself up to fearing, but still wasn't the most pleasant thing ever. By mid-morning Tuesday, it had been dislodged, terrifying MM that she had already broken the system, and causing many levels of consternation and sorrow for her, me, and our wonderful school health tech. When I finally got to see her on Tuesday, I could see that the sensor wire was completely pulled out of her skin, folded under the plastic bracket, and not doing a blooming thing. No wonder the receiver kept trilling at me all afternoon - "Did you insert a new sensor?" - about every 3 minutes.

Wednesday night, I went to bed early in a Nyquil stupor. Dear husband convinced MM to give it another try, using the back of her arm, and HALLELUJAH, it works! We calibrated (using finger pokes to check her actual bg level against the readings), and away it went. For some reason, she had a gap of about 2 hours during school yesterday; I think she ignored a calibration request. Her BG was WELL over 300 for most of yesterday, with the exception of shortly after the soccer game, and the Navigator kept giving the HIGH BG alarms. Well, no kidding! Let's see....should have done a site change a day ago; she skipped it. Should have done some corrections for the highs; skipped them. After getting her to do the site change, do some correcting, and go to bed, I was up every few minutes to look at why it was alarming - HIGH BG. Eventually, I had to turn the alarm off and just kept checking visually. Around 2 AM, when I knew I couldn't stay awake one*more*moment, I did one last finger poke and found she was starting to edge downward, even though the Nav hadn't caught up with it yet. Thank goodness, because I was beyond done for by then. The Nav's graphs show that she started to come down nicely around 3 AM, and was at a lovely 95 at 6:30 when I woke her for school.

Continuous glucose monitors are AMAZING technology, with a steep learning curve. I'm hoping to get the details nailed down in my head soon (thanks to the Yahoo CGMS users' group and the wonderful CWD parents who share their knowledge) and then get her to learn more about it. Unfortunately, when she began pumping, we were the ones with the responsibility of how/what/when to do things. She got accustomed to ignoring the alarms because she didn't know what to do and didn't want to be bothered. I have to get her past that now - she's not 8 any more, and the whole purpose of this is to help HER learn to manage her diabetes while we continue to do our best at playing pancreas for her. I am just sooooooo grateful that we have the insurance coverage to allow us to use this technology; there is not a single, solitary way that we could afford to use it without the insurance. Yes, I pay exorbitant premiums, so I don't feel terribly guilty over using the insurance to access everything I can to make her life easier (and mine, to be perfectly honest) but there is a wee twinge when I see the size of the bills. I also have a great deal of fear over how long this will be covered. Every year, when the school district goes over the insurance contracts, I am scared that our coverage is going to lessen as the premiums go up. I think that is a common fear for parents of CWDs, or other chronic conditions....will we be able to manage our childrens' health as well next year as we can this year?

Item 4. Laundry and assorted other chores await. As I am home sick from work, I should probably be doing things to help myself get well (like napping) if I am not actually doing something "productive".

Item 5.
If you read this far, you deserve a gold star for endurance. Have a great weekend.

Friday, February 6, 2009


Today was supposed to be the arrival of a new continuous glucose monitor for my daughter.....the much-anticipated Abbott Navigator. I held out for the Navigator for a good long time, waiting for it to clear one hurdle after another at the FDA. We finally gave in when puberty really kicked in (and I wasn't getting any sleep with checking and correcting psychotic blood sugars) and bought another system out of pocket, to the tune of about $400 plus $240 a month for sensors. Didn't EVEN use them that often, but we did buy several different months' worth of them. Sadly, we found that it worked fairly well at times, and was really not very much help at others. It was put aside last summer and we haven't even looked at it since, because the last few tries were utter failures. At $60 a sensor, I wasn't willing to chance too many failures. :(

Last fall, I began the interminable process of getting authorization from my insurance company for the Navigator, which has been available on the US market for about a year. I have heard so many wonderful things from people whose kids were in the huge study of the device, and then more from those who have been able to get one after the release. Even though my insurance benefits would provide coverage for the Navigator at 100%, which is nearly unheard of, I had to find a Durable Medical supplier that was contracted with Blue Cross of Arizona - the network our school district uses, even though we are self-insured. We hit one brick wall after another; this company isn't contracted with them, that company is only contracted for pumps, not CGM. I had basically given up between Thanksgiving and Christmas, because all I got were "Nope, we can't do it" messages.

Then, out of the blue last Friday, I get a phone message from an angel named Stacy at our current DME supplier's office - they got the approval!!!! Woo HOO!!! After a few days of phone tag, I spoke to her on Wednesday and verified that we really *can* get it (even though Blue Cross of Arizona is kicking and screaming at covering CGMS, my insurer gave the OK). It was to be shipped out and arrive at my school today!

Except it didn't get here. :( Now I am spending the weekend wondering what happened and becoming ever so much more impatient.....waiting is SOOOOO not something I am good at doing. I know I should be happy and grateful that I even have a chance at having one of the best technologies available to help keep my daughter healthy - but I want it RIGHTNOWTHANKYOUVERYMUCH!!!! Did I say that I'm not good at waiting?