Friday, December 07, 2007

Locked In

"Hi-- is this Joseph's mom?" asks an unfamiliar voice.

"Yes," I say into the phone.

"Ms. Miller, this is Ms. G___ , Joseph's gym teacher."

His gym teacher?

Wait, Joseph called an hour ago -- right before gym.
His blood sugar was only 140, and he had a ton of insulin on board, so I had him cancel the rest of his lunch bolus, and eat a bag of cheese crackers...

Suddenly I'm feeling very afraid.

"Is something wrong?"

"No, no- he's fine now.


"What do you mean? What happened?"

"Well, you see he came to class a little late-- because he had to check in at the nurse's office -- and then he went to the boys' locker room to change, and then came back out because he couldn't remember the combination to his lock. I gave it to him, and then he went back in."

A pause.

"And then?"

"Well, the boys' locker room is on the other side of the gym, and we've had some problems with theft recently-- so we've been locking the door after classes start... "

Another pause.

And now I want to reach across the phone and pull the words right out of her throat.

"Well, I'm afraid that Joseph got locked in...

Still another pause.

For... uh... 20 minutes."

"20 minutes?"

"You see," she continues, awkwardly, "the teacher from the other side of the gym must not have called in before locking the door-- but, it's all my fault. Joseph let me know he was here when he got to the gym, and then I forgot about him."

For about a second, I don't know what to say.

I just feel sick.

"His blood sugar was falling right before your class," I tell her. "This could have been really, really bad."

"Yes, I know," she says. "I'm so sorry."

"Yesterday, his blood sugar fell nearly a hundred points in less than 15 minutes... " I say, half to myself. "Wait- are you sure he's all right?"

"Oh yes-- he was laughing when we found him in there. I asked him why he didn't call out-- he said he did, and that he banged on the door, but no one heard. That locker room is on the other side of the gym. And well, shortly after he went in, I started videotaping my student teacher... and I just forgot about him."

For a few minutes, we talk about why this could have been very serious.

And about how the school will make sure it doesn't happen again.

Then I hang up the phone, turn and lean over the kitchen counter.

And very quietly, begin to cry.


Paige said...


I'm so glad that all is ending well with this and that the teacher understood how bad it could have been.

Joseph is probably still having a good laugh about it, right?

Molly said...

Scary. (even if he didn't have diabetes and wasn't dealing with a potential low!)
So sorry.
More for you than for Joseph probably...
Dam diabetes.

Jillian said...

That makes no sense. Even if Joseph didn't have diabetes, to lock any child in a room for that period of time "I forgot" is not good enough. I'm sorry Sandra, I know it must have been horrible to think of all the possible outcomes.

Rachel... said...

I agree with Jillian - for ANY kid, even at Joseph's age, it makes me very angry to read about a teacher being so flippant about forgetting about a student.

Does Joseph carry his supplies & treatment for hypoglycemia with him to the locker room? If so, I'm sure everything would have been OK. Gym class can't be hours long, right? ;)

Sandra Miller said...


Joseph did indeed think it was very funny.


Definitely more scary for me than him. When I picked him up after school, he said:

"Mom, I knew they'd open the door at the end of gym class-- so I wasn't worried at all."


That's all I could think about for quite some time yesterday-- those possible outcomes.


Gym class is 45 minutes long.

I did let this teacher know exactly how upset I was that she (or any teacher) could forget about my son (or any child).

As far as his supplies go-- while he did have glucose on him, he didn't have his meter. He's got one in his classroom, his backpack in his regular locker, and one in the nurse's office (across the hall from the gym).

One of the things that really shook me up about this was that Joseph couldn't remember the combination to his lock right before he went into the locker room (he's got an amazing memory, but when he's low/going low-- not so much).

Also, when his bg is going down rapidly, he often won't recognize the low.

So even with glucose, he might not have taken it.

Makes me sick just thinking of it.

George said...

I am so glad it was okay but I guess the real point is, that THIS IS NOT OKAY.

I am sorry about the neglect of others when it comes to our kids. I know it was not on purpose but man, that could have been horrible.

(crying and angry with you)

Shannon said...

The first thing that I thought this post was about was him going low because of him forgetting his lock combination.

But when I read about him being locked in, I was afraid he would be low with no help!!

Agh...this was hard to read with all the twists and turns.

Oh yeah, heads should be rolling over this one.

Donna said...

I am so glad Joseph is okay after all of this. Wow!

Are you going to take this higher in the school system? This could have been such an ugly situation & there is no excuse for locking any child in a locker room. (I'm getting clautrophobic just thinking about it.) I'm sure you'll make the best decision for your situation. But in my opinion, heads should roll! I know that's up to you, of course.

Again, wow!

LZ Blogger said...

Sandra ~ This could be so VERY SCAREY! ~ jb///

Penny said...


There is no excuse for locking a child in a room at school, D or no D.

I, like Shannon, thought he was low when he couldn't remember his locker combination either.

It sucks that we have to entrust our children to others who are not nearly as cautious as we are.

Lea said...

I have a lump in my throat after reading this. I keep thinking of all the "what ifs". I'm glad he's okay.

Liz said...

Oh this is scarey!! I'm glad Joseph is ok!!

Kerri. said...

This is terrifying. Diabetic or not, no kid should be left behind and locked in the gym. But Joseph's experience illustrates one of my biggest fears - being trapped somewhere without supplies. I always think about my half-empty pump reservoir when I travel, wondering how long I could last if I was stuck.

I'm so glad he's okay.

Bernard said...


Sorry you had such a terrible shock -- and I'm really glad that Joseph was fine.

And regardless of diabetes, it shouldn't have happened. But my hope is that the gym teacher has learnt a lesson from it.

Brett said...

Damned diabetes. It never has a holiday, never has a weekend, never takes a day off...not even a lunch break.