Three little girls at Magnolia ISD's J.L. Lyon elementary have had the burden of coping with Type 1 diabetes all their lives, but all three have managed their illness along with their studies. All are honor roll students and excited about their upcoming summer vacation. And they all receive help handling their medical needs by the caring staff at J.L. Lyon.
Fourth graders Lauren Williford and Lauren Weatherford, along with fifth grader Kylie Wilson, happily displayed their honor roll certificates and talked about managing their diabetes.
"Lauren and I have been in the same class each year and have helped each other," said Williford. "It helps to know you're not alone and Nurse Vickie (Cochran) works with us every day to make sure we are doing okay."
The two fourth graders met Wilson at Diabetes Camp Rainbow in Tomball over the summer.
"We love camp," said Weatherford. "We learn fun things like canoeing and get to share with others what we're feeling."
"Camp has lots of fun activities but we also learn new technologies and how to better control our diabetes," she said.
J.L. Lyon registered nurse Vickie Cochran helps two to three students manage Type 1 diabetes every school year. Their blood sugar levels must be monitored several times a day. For those who take insulin shots, Cochran helps supervise and for those with an insulin pump, she ensures everything is working correctly. If their blood sugar levels get too low, she may need to administer an emergency shot or get emergency treatment.
"We work in tandem with the teachers and the parents, and do whatever we need to do to accommodate the student," Cochran said. "We often work with their doctors as well, since each student has individualized needs. Our goal is to help them through elementary school and get them self-sufficient by junior high."
She also emphasized that every school has a nurse to help with all the types of medical management issues the students face, from cardiac issues to seizures, to asthma to food allergies. All can be life-threatening if no one is watching.
Parent Paula Weatherford is glad that MISD maintains such a caring attitude.
"I have nothing but positive things to say about Nurse Vickie and the staff at this school," she said.
April Williford agreed.
"When they started kindergarten, we were terrified," she said. "We didn't know how it would work out, but they put the two Laurens together in the same class, so they could support each other. And they did – and the staff did, too."
Parent Meredith Fountain is also a fourth grade reading and science teacher at Lyon. Her daughter Kylie has only been in the school a year, but she appreciates how well-educated Cochran is and that she works with the girls to be independent about managing their diabetes.
"Everyone is knowledgeable about this issue at the school, which gives me great peace of mind," she said.
The help-yourself-to-health program is good for the staff, too. Lyon counselor Jennifer Burnett also has Type 1 diabetes and she has met with the girls throughout the year to talk about handling the disease, how to tell if their blood sugar is getting low and how to log that information.
"The kids are so good about keeping track that it makes me keep myself on track, too," she said. "We really help each other."
Lyon staffers are prepared to deal with most medical conditions that students might have. Principal Tammy Haley explains that they are prepared to meet students' medical needs.
"Whether they come in with a scrape or a serious medical issue, they are treated for it. We don't take anything lightly," she said. "If the students have a medical issue, we want to know that. We meet with the parents even before they start kindergarten to talk about how we can help."