Fall is a time to rejuvenate. It’s a new season, a time to reflect on this midway point in the year, as well as look forward to what else we’d like to conquer before year’s end.
It’s also a time of growth. It coincides with the back-to-school season, but there’s another element to autumn that signals a different kind of transformation. Whether it's the cooler nights, the shorter days, or the falling leaves, fall is a time of change, growth, and learning.
Educating Herself, And Others
For real-life teacher, Kat, this is typically the very literal back-to-school moment for her. But Kat has an immunocompromised child and no support system, so her start to school this year is looking very different.
But her continued education remains the same. Kat has diabetes and is adamant about continuing to learn more about her health so that she can live her most optimized life.
While her in-class education experience is different this year, Kat’s ongoing health learning for herself remains constant. As an educator, Kat not only understands but embraces the art, science, and magic involved in the learning process.
“Education is the key to everything. Just like with professional development, we need personal development, too; to always build on and grow in the education of our personal health. Is keto good, low carb, no-carb? Which is better, monk fruit or Stevia? It comes down to us doing the research, discussion, collaboration, and experimentation so that we can do better by ourselves, much like learning your own best practices for life.”
Kat experienced what it was like to be misinformed about her health when she was first diagnosed with diabetes. It was a time when she didn’t have those best practices and couldn’t make informed decisions because she simply didn’t have the education she needed to make changes that best fit her definition of health. That didn’t last long.
“I have read so much, talked to my doctors, worked with Diabetic Reddit, found peers and a support system, and branched out. I’ve learned that one bad day does not equate to being a bad diabetic; that this is a life-long thing, so it’s best to make peace and learn to balance it; to never be afraid or ashamed, but look around me for help, community, and support. Grace, ultimately, is what I needed. My PC told me ‘Kat, stress is the glycemic equivalent of eating a whole cake. Relax.’”
That support system includes her students, Kat makes sure of it. At the beginning of each school year, she gives her new class a mini-lesson on what diabetes is and what high and low blood sugars look like.
Kat has an open-door policy when it comes to her diabetes and her students. From the beginning, she’s quick to let them know the ins and outs of diabetes, what she’s learned, what she’s experienced, and how they can help her if needed.
“My kids click in, hard and fast. They’ll ask questions like, ‘My grandad has the ‘betus and he takes shots; do you?’ They want to help and they want to know more. There was this one time I was going low. One of my students said, ‘You’re acting silly, that’s not you. Please test.’ And proceeded to grab my testing kit from my desk.”
Continuing Her Personal Education
Just as she continues to educate her students, Kat makes sure to continue her own education journey for her personal wellbeing.
As a student of her personal health, Kat uses resources like Reddit and Discord to read about others’ experiences, and finds online communities where other people with diabetes are happy to volunteer their health journeys and stories. Reading, researching, and learning are cornerstones to Kat’s continued growth to better her health.
“Learning is not static, and we cannot afford to be complacent in our diabetes management. It is a never-ending life process, and it’s not always a straight line! Some days you have got it. Other days, you forget your own name! What matters is that you try to grow in all things.”
Kat also notes that it’s not necessarily important to know absolutely everything; sometimes, it can be more important to simply know where to look for the right information.
How does Kat absorb all this never-ending information? Just like all of us with diabetes should, she balances her health education with simple acts of self-care. Kat takes time to digest her new learnings and grow from them, whether good or bad.
Kat truly takes the back-to-learning concept to heart. She is committed to being a lifelong student and educator, both for herself and for others.