WEST MANCHESTER TOWNSHIP, Pa. -- Many high school students face different pressures on a daily basis, but throw in a disease that requires 24/7 management into the mix; it's a different story. Two high school students at West York Area High School are conquering type one diabetes each day.
Senior Antonio Stauffer showed his tattoo.
"I just figured this would stay with me," Stauffer said. "And it can't come off."
A permanent mark, yes, but it's symbolism is two-fold.
"Nothing's going to change," Stauffer said. "It's always going to be like this, so."
Stauffer has been living with type one diabetes, a disease that has no cure, since he was 10-years-old. To the nurses's office he goes;
It's a walk he's taken many times.
"Yeah, when it's like a low or high, I'll come to the nurse, rather than try to stay in class," Stauffer said.
And he's not alone in that walk.
"You feel those symptoms of your blood sugar dropping, so it just like effects your performance," Rachel Ritchie said. "Especially on tests, if your blood sugar is too high, I feel that too and it's really hard to focus in class."
Ritchie is also a senior and diabetic. She was diagnosed when she was five. They're just two of six students who have type one diabetes at West York Area High School. Jennifer Ferber, certified school nurse, has a deep appreciation for them.
"Even the students that are independent, it's still so much for them, and that they are expected to do on their own," Ferber said. "It's a lot."
At any given time, their blood sugar could drop, or rise.
When it's low like I just feel like I can't do anything I'm very weak, and just very tired," Stauffer said. "And when it's high I start to get headaches and migraines, and I'm urinating a lot and always thirsty."
Treatment starts with a finger prick to get an accurate reading of blood, then eating a snack or injecting insulin depending on the blood glucose level. It's a routine they follow each day.
While this is typical before lunch, diabetes isn't always considerate of their schedules. And teachers have to learn to be aware, and help.
"We also go through signs of hyperglycemia, signs of hypoglycemia, what we should do - every teacher has smarties, a juice box," Ferber said. "They do know what they need to do."
And both students refuse to let it hold them back.
"If you're walking in this hall you can't pick out the kids with diabetes," Ferber said. "And that's our ultimate goal."
Because after all that's what the students want to be, just regular students.
"Sometimes like I'd rather stay in class like because it does kind of get really frustrating to always have to leave and come here," Stauffer said.
"You get really frustrated, because you're like, 'why can't I be like other kids and other people and not have this problem,' but I see it in a positive light most of the time," Ritchie said.