5 Tips for the College-Bound Student With Diabetes

college and T1D
  1. Visit the student health center. Meet the staff of the health center. They are your best connection to staying healthy while away from your hometown doctor. Meet the nurses, meet the nutritionist, and meet with a doctor that you can call with questions. Put a business card on your desk bulletin board in case of emergencies. Meet with the school nurse or call your hometown educator at least once during the first term to discuss your new schedule and make adjustments for new eating and activity patterns.
  2. Meet with student services. No one with diabetes wants to have to deal with academic issues resulting from their disease, but low and high blood sugar sometimes can pose a challenge to test-taking. Meet before the semester begins with the student services staff to draft guidelines for how to deal with the unavoidable. Take into consideration rescheduling tests, allowing food to be eaten in class, and to excuse absences or tardiness because of blood sugar or ketone-related issues. Photocopy the letter from student services and give it to professors at the beginning of each term.
  3. Talk with your roommate and your resident assistant. If you go away to school, educate your roommate and resident assistant about diabetes. They are the people who will be around in cases of late-night low blood sugar when there is the most risk. Show them where the extra supplies are, show them how to use glucagon, show them where your glucose tabs and juice are. Explain why these things are important. As soon as you start making friends that you are comfortable with, find one or two friends and give them the low-down on diabetes to help during the day on campus.
  4. Locate the nearest pharmacy. Transfer all your prescriptions to the nearest pharmacy. Most campuses have one, but not all are open on weekends or in the evenings. If you don’t have reliable transportation, make sure this pharmacy is within walking or biking distance–or delivers!
  5. Purchase extra supplies. Don’t get caught off-guard: Buy lots of juice, glucose tabs and granola bars. Stock up on diabetes supplies and put them where they won’t get messed with (in a box in a drawer or closet are ideal places). The glucagons should be easy to get to–a desk drawer or bookshelf is perfect, because you don’t want to be searching for that during a stressful situation. Allison is a 21-year-old senior at the University of Oregon who has had type 1 diabetes since the age of 8. She learned the importance of communication with the health center when she woke up with high ketones during her sophomore year.

[lead image via Monkey Business Images/shutterstock.com]