Managing your diabetes in college can be a challenge when learning to live away from home, follow changing class schedules, studying late at night and attending parties. It is a time of freedom and responsibility.
You can maintain a healthy lifestyle and enjoy the college experience with some planning before you leave for school. There are some things to know to help you get in a routine quickly.
Visit your campus early. Meet the staff in the health center. Get a staff contact for help in meal planning or carbohydrate counting.
Consider checking with your campus disability office. Many diabetics do not consider themselves disabled.
According to the American Diabetes Association, it is a disability of the pancreas. Most colleges or universities are subject to the Americans with Disabilities Act or Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973. There are opportunities for people with diabetes for testing, eating and injecting in class without consequence.
Recommendations for college from the Mayo Clinic are:
• Find a diabetes care team near your college. Start with your college's health center. Get recommendations for endocrinologists in the area. Work with a diabetes educator.
• Meet with the resident assistant (RA) to go over emergency procedures. Offer to give the RA a glucagon kit to use in case of severe low blood sugar.
• Tell your roommate and friends that you have diabetes. Teach a close friend how to administer glucagon in case of an emergency.
• Get a fridge for your dorm room.
• Be prepared to treat an insulin reaction. Buy large quantities of whatever you take for insulin reactions.
• Wear a medic alert bracelet.
• Keep a copy of insurance and prescription cards in your wallet and another in your room.
• Have an extra glucose meter and batteries.
• Use a needle disposal container. Be considerate of your roommate and friends.
• Keep three months of supplies on hand.
Ask your doctor if it would be beneficial to use an insulin pump and a continuous glucose meter. If you have an insulin pump, ask your doctor about programming different basal rates for different schedules on different days.
I also would consider visiting your school counseling center. In my experience, very few students knew what they wanted out of their college experience academically and socially. It is a time of growth and transformation.
Living with diabetes can add to the frustrations and challenges of this time in life. Having an outlet to share some of the challenges of this age could be helpful.
College can be a wonderful adventure if you live with diabetes. Take a few steps to prepare and enjoy your experience.
By Marianne Tetlow “The Diabetes Coach”
The Diabetes Coach is a comprehensive resource and consulting group for individuals or families with a loved one dealing with diabetes. Helping you to move forward while managing the ups and downs. www.diabeteslifestylecoach.com/
“Diabetes and college”By Nancy Klobassa Davidson, R.N., and Peggy Moreland, R.N.,
http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/diabetes-and-college/MY00836 retrieved April 18, 2012
“Going to College with Diabetes”, A Self Advocacy Guide for Students American Diabetes Association,
http://www.diabetes.org/assets/pdfs/schools/going-to-college-with-diabetes.pdf , retrieved April 18, 2012
Reviewed April 19, 2012
by Michele Blacksberg RN
Edited by Jody Smith