Navigating College with Diabetes

I’ve had type 1 diabetes since I was in the 6th grade. Going away to college was a big adjustment for me because I was so used to having my parents around to help take care of me. Diabetes can be hard to manage, but add the stress of college and it can become an absolute nightmare. Here’s how I navigate college life and diabetes.

First, you’ve got to be responsible for yourself.

Mom and Dad aren’t around to make sure you have all your supplies with you when you leave for class. I carry around a cute pouch that says, “This bag contains my pancreas” to keep all of my diabetes supplies together. This way, I can just put the pouch in my purse or backpack and leave for class. You also have to be aware of how much of your supplies you have. I take pictures of my diabetes supplies every time I leave for home so I know how much is on campus and if I need to restock while I’m home.

Consider getting a CGM (continuous glucose monitor) if you’re going away to college!

I got my Dexcom G5 earlier this year and it has honestly changed my life. I’m more aware of my high and low blood sugars, and can help correct them before they go out of control. It also helps because you can check on your blood sugar without having to prick your finger. I know I can get embarrassed pulling out all of my supplies in the middle of class, but with my CGM I can just check the app on my phone to make sure my blood sugars are where they should be. And you can share your data with other people, so my parents and boyfriend know what my numbers are from miles away.

Accurately count your carbs!

SUNY Oswego has all the nutritional information on their website, so it’s easy for me to have an accurate carb count. If you go to school without this, try using an app like CalorieKing for a general idea. Carbs being a tiny bit off can ruin a diabetic’s day, so it’s important to make sure your carb count is as precise as it can be.

Take things one day at a time.

One day of high blood sugar can easily turn into two if you panic and let it stress you out. Everyday is new. It’s never too late to turn bad blood sugars around.  If your numbers are constantly high or low for no discernable reason, it might be a good idea to call your endocrinologist for some adjustments.

Lean on your support system when you need to.

If I have a bad diabetes day, I know my mom or my boyfriend are only a phone call away. Just talking it out with them and trying to figure out what happened can change my whole attitude and get my mind off my diabetes for a while. I couldn’t handle my diabetes without my amazing support system behind me.