I have diabetes. It’s come up in a few of my past posts (holla @ diabetes camp) but I’ve never sat down and written a blog specifically about what I affectionately call “the Betes” and college.
I was diagnosed with Type I Diabetes 15 (!?!?) years ago when I was in kindergarten, so growing up with diabetes was all I really knew. The laundry list of tasks associated with managing diabetes includes counting carbs, calculating insulin dosages, checking blood sugar levels, treating low blood sugars, anticipating physical activity, and really a lot of expecting the unexpected.
This was all well and good while I was in high school, with a set schedule, access to all of the ingredients in my kitchen for precise carb counting, and all of my doctors just 45 minutes away in Boston.
To be completely honest, I was nervous about coming to college with diabetes. I had seen enough movies and talked to enough older friends to know that college was anything but the predictive environment to which I had grown accustomed.
Class schedules differed by day, there was a lot of walking even just around campus, my sleep patterns changed drastically, and don’t even get me started on trying to guesstimate portion sizes and carb counts for dining hall food.
Suffice to say that this was the biggest adjustment I had to make when I arrived here 3 years ago (a close second being Baltimore’s humidity).
During the first few weeks, I found myself spending almost as much time reconfiguring my insulin dosages as I was trying to understand physics and consuming glucose tablets at a rate comparable to my rate of coffee consumption.
However, I was not without ample resources to help with this transition.
I was lucky enough to find my friend Jackie, a fellow BME/ College Student with Diabetes™ on one of the first days of orientation, which eased my worries about finding someone who would understand the ins and outs of dealing with the ‘betes. Dining was incredibly helpful in providing carb counts for certain items at the FFC and my endocrinologist from home prepared me with tips about dealing with the lifestyle changes involved.
My floor from freshman year also had a sizeable number of BMEs, premeds, and friends interested in understanding how my insulin pump/ glucose monitor/ life worked, providing the extra support system that was so integral to my life at home.
Is it still annoying to check my blood sugar in class or treat that low blood sugar that always seems to happen when I walk back to my apartment from the library?
But hey, no one ever said college would be easy.