Nikki Wagner, bottom, and friend Sara
By Nikki Wagner, 14, Florida
One day last spring I sat down at the lunch table as usual. I had brought my lunch that day, but my friend Sara asked me to go to the lunch line with her. On the way, we saw some other friends. One of them tickled me and I sort of screamed. I then heard, "Nicole, come over here," and looked up to see the assistant principal.
Sara and I went to her. She asked me to stop goofing off and to give her my pump, which she thought was a beeper.
"It's not a beeper," I said, but she insisted. She was new to our school and didn't know about my diabetes and certainly not about insulin pumps. So I added, "I need it to stay alive." By this time, I was feeling nervous about where the situation was headed.
The assistant principal continued to ask for my "beeper," so I took my insulin pump off my pants, showing her the tubing line to the pump.
She took the pump and began to pull it toward her, still not understanding that this was a medical device. I took it out of her hands, disconnected it from my body, and set it on the table. I ran out of the cafeteria, crying, and Sara came with me.
Soon, we saw another teacher, and I told her what had happened. I had this teacher in eighth grade, so she knew about my diabetes and took us back to the cafeteria to get my pump. Sara stayed with the other students, and the teacher and I went to the nurse's clinic to reconnect it and call my mom.
When I got off the phone with my mom, Sara and another friend, Stephanie, came to see if I was all right. Stephanie even checked my connection site for my pump, which is on my back. After my mom talked to the nurse, we left.
Now, I would tell other kids to make sure that everyone knows you have diabetes. Your friends can support you if they know. And even if you have a meeting with teachers at the beginning of the school year, make sure you inform new people. The more people who know about it, the more who can help explain it if you end up in a situation like this.
Nikki told her story in the Fall 2002 issue of C.F.K. magazine.