Trainer Steps up for Student Athlete with Type 1
A profile of the work of Rachel Jersky, a high school trainer and April’s Everyday Hero.
Insulin Nation recognizes the everyday heroism of people affected by Type 1 diabetes. We’ve created the Everyday Hero series to profile individuals, or families who have gone above and beyond to help the Type 1 diabetes community.
As a parent of a child with Type 1, Gina Garaci keeps one eye on the field as her son plays football and the other eye fixed intently on her Pebble to watch his blood sugar levels. Her son Francesco, who is currently in eighth grade, is a student athlete who does not want his diabetes to interfere with his athletic goals. His mother struggles between her desire to be a fan on the sidelines and her constant concern about Francesco’s health.
Fortunately, this is where this month’s Everyday Hero, Rachel Jersky, enters the picture. Rachel is an athletic trainer at Bayport Blue Point High School in Bayport, New York. Too often, school trainers and coaches only provide minimal help in monitoring a child’s diabetes, but Gina says Rachel has gone above and beyond to help Francesco stay on top of his diabetes self-care.
As Francesco began to weight-train at the high school, Gina approached Rachel about her concerns and her desire to take a step back from Francesco’s diabetes care. Gina wanted her son to have more space in his diabetes self-care, but she was hoping Rachel could provide backup. She knew there’s a huge difference for a teenager between a mom checking in on him and a trainer checking in on him. Rachel understood and believed she could ease some of the mother’s worries.
“I knew how much Mrs. Geraci had on her plate [and] I wanted to help. I also didn’t want Francesco to get frustrated with frequent texts or visits from his mother, the school nurse, or even the coaches,” Jersky said in an email interview.
As Francesco began weight training, Rachel pulled him aside and asked him to explain the apps he uses to monitor his blood sugar levels and how she could use them. Now, she can monitor his blood sugar readings remotely. Rachel is aware that there are times Francesco can be too focused on practice and doesn’t want to leave the field, or he may not even be aware that he needs to take a break. When this happens, Rachel steps in and provides a gentle reminder to take a moment for his health.
“I discussed with Francesco how I was going to monitor – we could be prepared with snacks, drinks, whatever he needed in my office,” she said. “I wanted him to be at ease and not worry about his mom intervening.”
Rachel gives Francesco enough space to take care of himself; she explains that the job isn’t too difficult since he is always prepared with a drawstring bag full of anything he needs. She trusts Francesco, but is always there watching app alerts, in case he needs any assistance.
Gina is thrilled there is someone looking out for her son when she can’t be present –– someone who can help Francesco feel independent.
“[Rachel] has taken it upon herself to do everything in her power to not only stay informed on Francesco’s health and blood sugars, but to provide him with an environment where he can feel safe and secure knowing that she has his back without ever making him feel different or self-conscious,” Gina said.
Congratulations to Rachel Jersky, this month’s Everyday Hero!
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