I am a senior in high school, with around 6 months left until I graduate. I am planning on going to college next year and am looking for any advice on how to manage type 1 and adapt to a new place and lifestyle living away from home. Any tips or advice would be appreciated, thanks!
hi @meganhjermstad Megan welcome back. Well, you will likely be under more pressure and you will be more independent with less input and less supervision. Some people adapt and do great, for others, it’s a bit of a learning experience.
what’s your biggest fear?
Welcome back Megan @meganhjermstad, you’ve not been seen here for a while.
Living on your own, and adjusting to college life will most likely affect you in many ways in addition to how you manage your diabetes. My strongest suggestion, that in the next eight months that you get very familiar how different schedules, activities, climates and foods affect your glucose management. YES, take time to experiment with different foods under as many possible activity levels as possible. Keep in mind too, that sleep [or lack thereof] plays a part in glucose management; study time as well as party-time could affect regular sleep.
There are several strings already posted on here [search “college”] that might help you and there is a site "College Diabetes Network [https://collegediabetesnetwork.org/] that has a ton of information - including a list of colleges that host Diabetes Chapters.
I wish you well!!!
How I see it is simple. You have to learn how to be more adult than you are now! Dennis is right about experimenting with foods, activities etc… But here’s the key that I think will help you the most. Talk with your parents, family, friends etc… Tell them you want to really be in control of your management. Meaning you get your own meds, make apptments for Dr’s, the whole ball of wax. Basically you want to live on your own, without Mom or Dads help, even tho your still living on your own.
Let them know you want to practice for being on your own, making the decisions, that we all have to make. Like making sure your vehicle is getting maintenance when necessary, putting wipers on when needed, eating on a schedule, without being told to. All those things that your mom or dad might remind you you need to do. Learning to adult!
It’s harder than you think! It’s also harder for your parents to let go of the reins on you! They need to practice too! Because once you move into a dorm situation, it’s over, your in control. No one will be telling you what to do or how to do it. You are gonna make mistakes! Your gonna forget to do this or that or not get supplies that you need. The list is endless on how you could possibly screw up!
Most important thing to learn is that you can do this on your own, without somebody picking up the slack. Being adult is cool, doing what you want, when you want, going to places, seeing things, doing stuff. But many, many high school seniors who don’t have the challenges you will face, SCREW this up BAD!Y! They make decisions that can and do ruin thier lives om a daily basis. So if you are allowed to screw up at home over the next few months with a little supervision, maybe it won’t be so bad next fall when you have to do it for real.
To me college is about doing just that. Making good or bad decisions that affect your life. Education or lack thereof, Is the results of your decisions. You get what you put into it. Put in too little, don’t get much back, out too much, you get overwhelmed! You need to learn how to balance this out.
Just like I told my daughter before she left to go to school, partying in school is not just about drugs, alcohol, etc… it’s also about saying, hey I gotta study, I cant go to… or I can’t spend money on this I have to pay for this. Or during study time, that’s what you need to do, but your roommate wants to watch movies. You have to stand up for yourself and say no I can’t do this or yeah I got time for that. Just that you have to add being diabetic to it too! Hard enough on its own ( being diabetic). Now you have other pressures, desires on top of that without somebody saying to you is that a really good idea?
Thousands of people your age do this! You can too! It’s just gonna be a little harder for you, cause staying well managed is not easy. You already know that! But few think about it ahead of time and ask the questions you did! That’s important! It means your ready to do this, but a little practice where it’s safer to make mistakes can’t hurt!
I was diagnosed at 3 years old and started college in 1978. We didn’t have ANY of the technology available now - not even standard BG meters (we did urine testing instead - imagine that!). I’ve always been super independent, and had many years under my belt by the time I started college, so it wasn’t a huge adjustment for me. Of course, with the tech we have now there’s much more information, but that’s a good thing.
When of you use a CGM I would suggest you let your roommate/s know what to look for that may indicate you are low or high, and what to do in either case. Some people don’t want anyone to know about their diabetes, but IMHO anyone with a medical condition should make sure those they live with are informed, just in case. Notify your dorms Resident Advisor and Student Health, and share with trusted friends as well. We kept snacks in our room, and I always told my roomie not to touch my private stash, which I kept for emergencies.
Some colleges have support groups (that may not be the correct term) for diabetics. You may not feel the need for support per se, but you can meet other students with diabetes who may have extra test strips or infusion sets if you need them (assuming you use them).
One last thing: when I was in college a guy who knew I was diabetic asked if I would give him a syringe for recreational drug use. I did no. Be careful where you keep your syringes or pump fill supplies, and check on what to do with your sharps.
Last of all, have fun! Congratulations, and I how you get into your 1st choice.
Your school should have a disability resources office on campus. Make sure you register with them either during orientation or soon after arriving. They will advise your professors that you’re eligible for “reasonable accommodation” under the Americans with Disabilities Act. You’ll be allowed to have your medication & food/drinks in class, have extra time for tests, arrive late or leave class early, and - most importantly - be excused during midterms/finals so you can treat hight & lows or take injections in privacy. Registering will also avoid the misinterpretation of your insulin syringes as “drug paraphernalia” if the RA sees them in your dorm. I would expect they would provide you with your own private medication refrigerator for insulin in your dorm room (or allow you to bring your own). Good luck - hope this helps!
WOW! You sound just like me. I started college in 1979 but had only been diagnosed a year before. While I didn’t know what was going on much, in a way it was less stressful. But I wouldn’t give it up now.
Megan, congrats on your upcoming graduation. HS is OK, but college is a LOT funner.
From someone who’s been there/done that, I would suggest to not let the diabetes get in the way of what you want to do. With today’s technology you will be able to keep a close eye on things.
As others have said, keep snacks available and let your room mate know what’s going on. Maybe let the resident assistant in the dorm know as well. You don’t have to over share though. Not everyone needs to know unless you want them to.
Have fun and be careful. This could be the last chance you have to do whatever you want whenever you want. Go for it!
Hi! How exciting. Even with diabetes college was 4 of the best years of my life so far. I moved away from home (3 hours away) and at first I was scared. But quite honestly there wasn’t anything to be afraid of. My top 3 recommendations:
- You will be meeting a ton of new people and will likely make a new friend in every class. I always told a class buddy and my professor that I was diabetic. If it was a large lecture, I still did it but just after class. It was so convenient for them to know because if I sent an email saying something was up with my diabetes they all understood and made accommodations if needed.
- Always carry snacks in your backpack. Your backpack goes everywhere with you in college so stock it with granola bars, glucose tabs, fruit snacks etc. easy way to ensure you have something to treat a low if needed and if you need something to tide you over until meals.
- If you don’t have a cgm get one if you have access. I use dexcom and I love that I can set it so that if I’m severely low or high for 15 minutes, my parents get a notification and will call me. If I don’t pick up after 2 calls, then they make the call to reach out to whoever
Also would just say, diabetes does not need to take away your college experience. Be honest with your endo and build a plan that works for you.
Best of luck and have fun!
As is often the case, @Dennis reminded me of something. When I was in college I took 1 shot of long acting insulin a day. BG meters didn’t come out until about the time I finished and I don’t remember when carb counting came to be, much less the overall nutrition info we have now so when meal time came I simply ate (watch out for the “freshman 15” - extra weight could affect your insulin needs). It may be that the college cafeteria posts that info so it’s available for anyone who needs it - whether someone with diabetes, food allergies, sensitivity to gluten, etc. Check out where to find the info. Some people take their insulin in advance of their meal. Even if you can get the nutrition info in advance I would suggest you wait until you’ve tasted your food before you bolus/inject, to make sure you’re going to eat those carbs you’re covering.
Also, if you use electronics to manage your diabetes, keep one of those portable batteries and cables with you. I’m usually very good about keeping my things charged up but every now and then I see or get an alert while I’m out that my battery is low so it’s good to have one on hand. Depending on your happily hectic schedule, if you use a pump you may find you need to change the cartridge at an inconvenient time. I found a pill box and (ironically) a metal candy tin that fit my TSLIM cartridges very nicely. Will take pics and attach them later.