Off to college and roommates!

So this fall will be my first semester in college, and it would be an understatement to say I am nervous. But not just for the school and being alone part, but the roommate part. My roommate does not know that i am a type 1 and its i know i need to tell her and explain to her how to treat me if i pass out (hopefully will never happen) i just really don't want to overwhelm her with it. Tips please :)

I'd say, like anything else, gauge it on her personality. Some people make everything awkward. Others are more receptive. The only thing I'd suggest is easing into it. Make it part of the whole preliminary roommate talk. Try to build some rapport. After all, the friendlier you two become the safer you'll feel and be. Try also to make some friends on your hall, especially in the off chance you don't get along with your roomie. My freshman year two of my friends living on my floor give me a ride in the middle of the night to the hospital (I was pretty high). I'm not sure what would have happened if I hadn't had any friends nearby. Good luck!

Hi Haley :)  I am going to be a junior in college this year.  I didn't know my roommate my freshman year and I was also nervous about having to explain to someone that they could potentially have to save my life someday... however, I was really friendly & tried to be clear about explaining type 1 and my pump & checker and how independent I am.  I also explained and SHOWED her my glucagon and told her where I always keep it (if you don't already, you should at least keep 1 in your dorm room and put a note by it in case you need it).  I only kept mine in my purse and I wish I would've kept one out in the open or at least somewhere out in the open.  I never needed mine, but it's always good to have her be aware of it.  I think it was really important that I showed her how to use a glucagon, since I am pretty sure if I was in her shoes, I'd panic if my roommate started seizing or whatever and I didn't really know what to do.  I think we were both more comfortable that way.  I also kept juice up in my bed (our beds were both lofted) in a little cloth box type thing that you can get at Bed Bath & Beyond (I really really recommend this if you ever decide to loft your beds or if you want to keep juice & your meter close to you at night).  

As long as you are confident and clear about how you mange your diabetes, your roommate will feel confident in being able to help you if you need it.

Don't be afraid to talk about your diabetes to people if they are interested:) Most want to help and understand more about type 1.  On my campus, I actually started a type 1 advocacy group for type 1 research.  I am sure you will be fine :)

Good luck!


Also, along with what Elie said, you should definitely tell your RA that you are type 1 diabetic and show her your glucagon as well.. I showed my RA and I'm glad I did. Again, I never had to use it, but it made me feel safer.


When I started college I just told my roommate I had diabetes and that if I started acting weird to make me drink a soda or juice.  I made sure to always have juice boxes and glucose tablets around.

Sophomore year I worked as an RA and it was amazing how many different people on my floor had serious medical issues.  One resident had emotional issues and had attempted suicide before coming to college.  It reminded me that even though you think everyone is healthy and normal, that people deal with all sorts of problems.  Some are obvious and some, like diabetes, are not.

Any cool roommate won't be freaked out by your diabetes and will be glad to help you if need be.  Trust me, there's a good chance your roommate will see you drunk, hung over, with the stomach flu, etc.  Do great in college!  Have fun, but make sure to put some time into your classes.

I'm actually going to be dealing with a semi-similar situation in a month as well.  I was recently diagnosed as a 20 year old college student and had to take a semester off in order to deal with everything and adjust to the new lifestyle.  I'm going to be living with 2 roommates next year, one of them is my fraternity brother and the other I have never met before.  Obviously, the person I know now knows that I am diabetic but he doesn't know what to do.  For me, I  think the key is to let them ask me questions and kind of make it a learning process.  That way, I don't just come out in the open and tell them how to use the glucagon kit and overwhelm them right away.  I think that would make them freak out a lot more than if they saw you testing your sugar or giving yourself insulin.  

I also agree with the people above me about finding other friends that you become close enough with that you would trust possibly saving you if you do get extremely low.  Fortunately for me, one of my fraternity brothers at school has been T1 for about 5 years and he has helped me adjust and stuff.  I know that if anything was to happen next year, my roommate would definitely call him.  Who knows, you might get lucky like me and find someone who knows what you are going through and would be able to help out.  Sometimes roommates work out and they're really close friends, sometimes they aren't friends but have no problems with each other and living together, and sometimes they absolutely hate each other.  If by chance you end up with a bad roommate and you don't get along together, it would definitely be a good thing to have others around that know how to help you.  

My plan is just to try not to overwhelm anyone by gradually teaching and showing them different things so hopefully that will work out for me.

Chris, I know you don't want to overwhelm anyone, but I still think it's really important to at least show them where your glucagon is and just explain that it's a "sugar shot."  Explaining it that way definitely didn't overwhelm my roommate.. and it's better to be safe than sorry.  I'm 100% positive your roommate will be glad to be somewhat prepared--plus, it could save your life.


True, everyone reacts differently to a person having diabetes.  In nursing, it's kind of a give and take.  If I have patient who is struggling significantly with diabetes, I take the time to share some about myself.  Even after being a diabetic for over a decade it's something that makes me different.  My favorite response after a hug is, "Why is your blackberry in your bra?".  Insulin pumps often up a lot of those doors.

I just finished my first year a couple months ago. Luckily for my my roomie was from my hometown and knew I was diabetic. She was really good about wanting to know what to do. What I start everything out with, for roommates/boyfriends/friends ect. is that if I'm unconscious call 911 before anything else. I figure  that even if they don't remember anything, at least help is coming. Plus it puts a lot less pressure on them, rather than saying, ok, so do steps 1,2,3,4,. . . 100, which is what I found a lot of people felt like I was saying if I take them through everything in one setting. For my roommate, I showed her the glucagon and how to use it, and told her there where instructions. I also tell people that if I'm acting strange suggest juice/food, and If i'm being stubborn call my parents, for some reason my dad can get me to listen even when i'm completely out of it. Basically, I try to downplay it, like, "hopefully nothing really serious will happen, and I've never used the glucagon and I've been diabetic for 18 years, but just in case" Good luck at school

Our son is going to college in a couple of weeks and we asked for single room for him.  He's very private about his diabetes and takes excellent care of himself.  Of course his RA will have to know along with his football coaches but he is not comfortable asking someone such as a roommate to care for him.  Luckily he uses very little insulin and his GB levels are pretty stable.  His doctor said he can't use a loft since he sometimes goes lower overnight and he doesn't want him falling.  He also talked to him about drinking alcohol since he's on some experimental drugs and what it could do to him.  We are worried, of course, but we have to honor his wishes.  Hopefully he will start feeling more comfortable with his dorm-mates, teammates, professors and coaches as time goes on.


I am definitely skeptical about a single being a good idea for a diabetic, regardless of his level of control. Although I signed up for a double my freshman year, my roommate never showed up and my double effectively became a single. My honeymoon phase had just ended, so my problems were mostly with highs, not lows, but there were definitely times when I wished I had a roommate. Even if it is for non-emergency situations having a roommate can be extraodinarily useful. There were many times that I missed class because of high blood sugars. I was pretty much passed out in bed and didn't have the energy to get up and get a syringe. If I had had a rommate that person would know that I would have to be awake and would wake me up.

He visited the college three times - twice with a roommate and once without..  The "without" worked much better.  His thyroid also quit working when he was diagnosed with diabetes so he needs more sleep than most kids his age and as I said he is very private about his diabetes even to the point of refusing to treat himself when others are present if he's not comfortable.  With this experimental treatment he only uses 12-20 units of fast acting insulin a week and tests 6-8 times a day while maintaining a 5.8 to 6.4 A1c for the last two years.  His doctor feels very comfortable with him living in a single and even wrote a letter to the college to request it.  I also talked to another student who had recently graduated from the same college and for the last three years she had a single and said she did much better.