Lemonade Life

Friday, October 14, 2005

Life as a College Student with Diabetes

I'm sad, only one person posted a question for me (I love you Gina!!!)

Anyway, here's my answer:

Diabetes in college is, I would imagine, very similar to diabetes in any other work situation. Most people don't know you have it. Those who do know don't care that much. And when they do care, it's usually because you're inconveniencing them somehow.

That being said, I've managed to keep a pretty low-profile on campus with regards to my diabetes. When I was a freshman, I went and got a letter from the Office of Students with Disabilities that explained to my profs that I was allowed to have juice in class if I needed, to leave if necessary and that I could postpone tests and what-not if I needed to. I showed it to all of my teachers, they were like "whatever" and we never talked about it again. Since then, I haven't actually told any of my professors that I have diabetes because I felt that it hasn't really been necessary. I'm usually awake early enough before any tests that if I'm low or going low, I can drink juice so my blood sugar is back up to normal. I've never gone low during a test. I can't even remember a time when that happened in high school or middle school.

I test during class and no one cares. With the advent of cell phones and the fact that *no one* seems to remember to turn their's off, my beeping is probably shrugged off as someone turning off (or on) their cell phone. I've gone low a couple of times, and in those cases, I've left, gotten soda and come back, or just left period if it was a dumb class (which they invariably are). In college, unlike high school, no one really cares if you're there. The only time it would potentially be a problem is during a test, and as I said before, this has yet to happen.

I will say that the teachers I do talk to about my diabetes are my dance teachers. Participation is a large chunk of my grade, and I don't want to get docked points if I have to stop dancing at any point. Right now I'm taking dance for non-credit, so I can leave and not feel bad, but it's good to have the teachers know I have diabetes just in case I pass out.

I'm also really good friends with my Health Center. They know me by name. We have a Certified Diabetes Educator on campus, so I say hi to her every few months or whenever things are starting to go a little hay-wire. Though since I've been doing the remote services with Gary Scheiner, I haven't had to go in.

So that's my answer! I'm sure it's not very comforting to people. Maybe if I run into some fiasco with a prof I might be more inclined to make a bigger deal about it, but I would rather just not go low during a test than having to convince them that diabetes is the culprit (and not the fact that I waited until 2 in the morning to start studying... not that I've ever done that...).


At October 17, 2005 7:14 AM , Blogger Sandra Miller said...

Okay Allison,

What if you have a severe low? What if you need help? How would that be handled if your profs and fellow students don't even know you have diabetes? Who could give you glucagon?

I'm a little worried about you, girl. I know you haven't had a problem yet, but that's always a possibility-- and, however remote, you need to make people aware of how to handle that situation.

Sorry for the mini lecture, but the mom in me just couldn't help herself.

At October 17, 2005 12:06 PM , Blogger Kerri. said...

I was diag'd in second grade, so I had the D for almost my entire schooling career. I told most people because I was scared not to, knowing how fast my bloodsugars tend to fall. My friends knew how and when to treat a low bloodsugar. My teachers knew I wasn't sassing them when I cried and cursed at them in fifth grade during the fit of a low. The more people who know, the safer I feel.

I'm not looking for attention. Quite the contrary, actually. I'm looking for it to be so second nature to my friends and coworkers that they don't think about it at all. Unless I need them to.

At October 17, 2005 2:24 PM , Blogger Allison said...

My friends at school know that if I'm low, to get sugar, and that if I'm unconcious, just to call 911. The hospital is literally a block away from campus. You can see it from almost every building around.

Glucagon is a bit of an issue, because I don't carry one around with me. So I don't train people on how to use it.

My friends know what a low is and that I need sugar. But that's as far as I've really taken it. My classes are only 10 weeks long- and then I'm off to a whole new group and I rarely if ever see the professor again.

I also want to make it clear how difficult it is in college to make people take diabetes seriously. It's not like I have a secretary or a school nurse we can train and run to every time something happens. It's less personable and really stinking hard.

At October 17, 2005 7:40 PM , Blogger Kerri. said...

I know how difficult it is to educate the huge crowd at college. I was one diabetic amongst a sea of 24,000 students at a state university. But I wore that medic alert bracelet religiously. And I always carried something to eat, along with my cell phone if I ever needed to call 911.

But you're competely right: In that enormous college setting, it's hard to constantly be surrounded by friends or faculty who Know Enough. The balance is challenging.


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