My Daughter, Diabetes and College
My Daughter, Diabetes and College
OK. It isn't bad enough that I have a daughter that's 22 years old. (Where did all those years go)? Time has come and gone like low gas prices and now she's in college. She's struggling with college life, rooming with 3 other girls at the dorm, fretting about homework and projects and trying to maintain her finances and look for work while I sit here and worry about everything else. Mainly...her diabetes.
She was diagnosed with Diabetes when she was 9, and it's been a battle ever since. Growing up is hard enough these days without being different, right? At first her friends' parents didn't even want her to stay at their houses overnight. My daughter actually hated school for awhile because of this frightening and all-consuming disease. She gained weight and although she maintained all of her best of friends, there were some that seemed to shy away because she was 'different.' Although I have come to find out now that it was her that shied away from them because she felt she wasn't the same and felt she didn't fit in to that same old crowd. So for her entire 'growing up years' or at least the ones I feel are most important, 'the teenage years', she carried this monkey on her back and has always seemed to be looking for somewhere to fit in.
She finally decided to go to college. She goes to the Art Institute in Pittsburgh and loves it. She actually likes the dorm, has made tons of new friends that don't care if she's a diabetic or if she has a horn growing out of her forehead. She's cool, loves the same music and is taking the same types of classes, so I guess they are all starving artists and that's what they have in common and nothing else matters.
But while she is in Pittsburgh, I'm 3 hours away in Hicksville USA worrying endlessly about her diabetes. She hasn't always been compliant with the daily accuchecks and the insulin and the diet. Luckily she has lost tons of weight since she's been there, (odd isn't it when most kids gain weight in college) but she walks 3 city blocks several times a day to classes and when the weather is nice her and her friends scout out the entertainment and shopping in the city, so she has had plenty of reason to lose weight. Something she has wanted to do for years.
I called her this morning before class and she didn't answer. I called her like 15 times and she didn't answer so of course I start thinking all these horrid things. Her roommate went home for the weekend, she was there alone so I thought her diabetes...Yeah, you get my drift. If you have kids you totally understand. I did finally get a hold of her. She was in class and had her phone off all morning. Worry wart.
I would like to stop worrying about this. I would love to be able to go about my business every day and not fret and fuss about her...someday maybe. When I'm 80 and she's 60 with a great job and kids and grand kids of her own I suppose. I'm open for suggestions if anyone has any great ideas!
If you have diabetes, you have to learn not only the typical college challenges like managing classes, your budget and getting along with a roommate but now you have to take care of your own diabetes and the ups and downs that can happen too. You have to manage your own diet plan, count carbs and consider the activities you will be doing in school like walking to classes, daily routine changes and late night study sessions. All of this can greatly effect your diabetes and Mom isn't going to be there to remind you. You will have to remember to refill prescriptions and make doctor's appointments.
Here are a few tips to help you prepare for the challenges that diabetes and college will throw at you:
* Take the initiative. Find a diabetes care team near your college. Start with your college's health center. Get recommendations for endocrinologists and support groups in the area. Ask your parents to help with this process.
* Meet with the resident assistant (RA)at the dorm to go over emergency procedures. If possible, ask the RA if they can keep a glucagon kit to use in case of severe low blood sugar.
* Tell your roommate and a few close friends that you have diabetes. Explain how they can help if you have symptoms of low blood sugar. It would be a idea to teach a close friend (your roommate would be the best one to know this) how to administer glucagon in case of an emergency.
* Work with the medical educator. There should be a medical person, nurse or other health care provider at your school that needs to be aware of your health issues and can have this information in your file. Often they can notify staff and your teachers of your needs.
* Get a fridge for your dorm room. Store supplies and snacks in it and make sure friends and roommates know that this isn't a free supply of food for everyone.
* Know how to treat an insulin reaction. Buy large quantities of whatever you take for insulin reactions to avoid panicky runs to the grocery store in the middle of the night.
* Wear a medic alert bracelet. And wear it all the time. There are many different styles available.
* Keep a copy of insurance and prescription cards. Keep a copy in your wallet and another in your room.
* Keep your glucometer ready to use at all times. Take an extra glucometer with you in case it gets lost or broken and always have extra batteries as well.
* Use a needle/test strip disposal container. Be considerate of your roommate and friends.
* Keep three months of diabetes supplies on hand. Check your stock periodically. Have your prescriptions on file at a local pharmacy and don't let supplies run low. Mom isn't going to be there to get refills.
* Keep a small kit with you at all times. Carry a little case of insulin, needles, glucose tabs or snacks with you at all times along with emergency numbers.
Know Your Rights
I have included a fact sheet from the American Diabetes Association. Diabetics have the right not to be discriminated against because of their diabetes and to receive reasonable modifications when necessary. This fact sheet provides general information on the legal rights of postsecondary students. Go to the official website for more info and it wouldn't be a bad idea to give this fact sheet to the medical staff at your school.
FACT SHEET: DIABETES AND POSTSECONDARY EDUCATION
1. What is the purpose of this fact sheet?
Postsecondary students—whether in vocational training, undergraduate, graduate, or professional programs—have the right not to be discriminated against because of their diabetes and to receive reasonable modifications when necessary. This fact sheet provides general information on the legal rights of postsecondary students.
2. What anti-discrimination laws provide protections to college students with diabetes?
There are two important federal laws that protect college students with disabilities. They are:
- The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA)
- Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 (Section 504)
religious institutions. Section 504 applies to all colleges—including religious colleges—that
receive federal funds. Most religious colleges receive federal funds. State and local anti-discrimination laws may provide additional protections.
3. What are a college’s general obligations under the ADA and Section 504?
Under Section 504 and the ADA, colleges may not discriminate against qualified disabled applicants and students. As part of their anti-discrimination obligations, colleges must provide reasonable modifications to otherwise qualified students. These obligations extend beyond the classroom to include access to the full range of services, programs, and activities offered by colleges. However, colleges are not required to “fundamentally alter” the essential character of
their offerings or provide any modification that would result in an “undue burden.” For example, your college may permit you to reschedule an exam if your blood glucose levels are out of target range, but may not be obligated to train staff in diabetes care.
4. Are college students with diabetes covered by the ADA and Section 504?
Because of recent legislative changes, nearly all students with diabetes should be covered.
Individuals are covered if they have a physical or mental impairment that substantially limits one or more major life activities, have a record of such an impairment, or are regarded as having such an impairment. Most people with diabetes will be protected by the ADA and Section 504 because their diabetes substantially limits the functioning of their endocrine system. For more information on discrimination generally, including the definition of disability and establishing coverage under federal law, see http:www.diabetes.org/advocacy-and-legalresources/discrimination.jsp.
5. What are some examples of modifications that would be appropriate to request?
- ability to check blood glucose in classrooms and lecture halls
- permission to reschedule an exam if experiencing high or low blood glucose levels
- breaks between separate sections of long exams to check blood glucose levels
- being excused for diabetes-related absences and the ability to make up work
- permission to have more frequent and/or extended breaks to take care of diabetes during a clinic or internship
- permission to schedule classes so that a regular meal schedule can be maintained
6. What are some examples of modifications that likely would not be granted?
- training of college staff in diabetes care
- significantly extra time on exams (as opposed to extra breaks during an exam)
- exemption from course requirements
- retroactive modifications, e.g., a change in a course grade after a failure to disclose diabetes or request modifications
Skin Care for Diabetes
Take good care of yourself . Mom isn't going to be there to tell you to get to bed or make sure you keep to your curfew. You have to get lots of rest to be able to concentrate in class (yeah right!). Well, don't pull too many all-nighters. So if you aren't taking care of yourself, at least take care of your skin. Check out the products below, along with hundreds of others, on Amazon.
Teens With Diabetes May Suffer From Depression
The challenges of diabetes poses problems and stress to anyone, but to the average teen, it can be more intense and the risk of depression is increased. Studies have shown that teens with diabetes are two to three times more likely to experience depression than adolescents who do not have diabetes. Some common contributing factors are:
- the constant need to manage the diabetes.
- fear of complications that may occur.
- the altered self image and lack of self esteem associated with having the illness
- stress associated with expressed concern and worry by a well-meaning parent
Teens are generally moody and it might be difficult to distinguish between normal teenage moodiness and depression but depression symptoms last longer, generally for at least two to three weeks. The most common symptoms are:
- loss of pleasure in things previously found enjoyable
- withdrawal from social interaction
- feeling tired most of the time
- trouble falling asleep, waking during the night or sleeping more than usual
- eating more or less than usual, resulting in weight gain or loss
- trouble concentrating
- feeling worse in the morning; questioning one's ability to make it through the day
- thoughts of self-harm
When several of these symptoms are present it may be a sign of depression and you should encourage him or her to get help from your doctor or other healthcare provider. If possible, seek out a mental health professional experienced in working with teens and diabetes.
10 Diet Rules for Diabetics
#1: Avoid Alcohol
Most forms of alcohol are very high in calories - alcohol consumption can lead to weight gain, which is undesirable for a diabetic. If blood glucose levels are kept under consistent control, small amounts of alcohol on an occasional basis can be allowable, but it's best to check with your physician first.
#2: Eat Foods Low on the Glycemic Index
High glycemic index foods not only raise blood sugar levels, but they also are high in calories and can cause weight gain. Eating foods such as vegetables, legumes, and multi-grain cereals and bread products provide good nutrition, as well as keeping blood sugar levels in check.
#3: Avoid Foods High in Sugar
Although a diabetic diet can include some sugars, it is best to keep them to a minimum. Not only do you have to monitor your blood sugar levels more closely when consuming sugar, but sugary foods are high in "empty calories" and encourage weight gain.
#4: Portion Control
By sticking with a healthy meal plan, and not exceeding normal portion sizes, you are not only helping to keep your blood sugar under control, but also controlling calories. It's best to stick to a regular schedule for meals and snacks, and not skip meals.
#5: Eat Low-Fat to Control Your Cholesterol and Weight
A diabetic diet should help to keep the cholesterol low. To do this, avoid foods that are high in saturated fats, as well as limiting the consumption of polyunsaturated fats. A low-fat diet also helps to control your weight as well.
# 6: Use Artificial Sweeteners Instead of Sugar
Artificial sweeteners can be used to add a little sweetness to foods, without adding all the calories that sugar does. However, it's important to remember that even if a food is low in sugar, it could be high in fat, calories, and unhealthy carbohydrates.
#7: Eat Fish
Adding fish such as salmon and tuna to your diet two or three times a week can add some heart-protective healthy fat to your diet.
#8: Use Less Salt
Because diabetes can put a person at a higher risk of heart disease and stroke, sticking to a low sodium diet can be beneficial. There are some very good salt substitutes on the market, such as Mrs. Dash seasoning, that can be used in place of salt for flavor without the added sodium.
#9: Add More Dietary Fiber
Soluble fiber not only helps stabilize blood glucose levels and lower cholesterol, it also helps control weight by keeping you feeling full after meals longer.
#10: Eat Small Meals More OftenEating smaller meals more often can help to control blood sugar levels more effectively, as well as help to control appetite. This means eating four or five small meals each day, plus two or three snacks.
Really Cool Diabetic Supply Bags
I found several websites that have some really cute bags for diabetics. They don't look like diabetic supply bags. They don't even look like medical bags at all. Check them out by clicking on the adorable bag below.
Books for Teens with Diabetes
FYI - What Diabetes Can Cost Every Month
EXAMPLE OF MONTHLY EXPENSES FOR DIABETES CARE
Humalog (long-acting) insulin (1.5 vials) - $70
Glargine (rapid-acting) insulin (1 vial) - $40
Meter strips (120) - $100
Keotone strips (1 box) - $10
Alcohol wipes (200) - $3
Syringes (100) - $22
Ophthalmologist visit (prorated) - $15
Miscellaneous (glucose tablets, glucagons, etc.) - $10
Total - $270
Source: Diabetes Care (Magazine)
Links of Interest
- Dealing with Diabetes in College
College students coping with the disease face special considerations, challenges.....
- ADA - American Diabetes Association
The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight against the deadly consequences of diabetes and fighting for those affected by diabetes.
- Teenagers With Type 1 - TuDiabetes
A group for teenagers with type 1 aged 13-20 :)
- Pump Wear Inc
Fun, creative ways to wear an insulin pump a large selection of diabetes cases & accessories. Support items, walk t-shirts, medical alert bracelets and frio products all available.
- Adorn Designs
Medical Bags by aDorn Designs: Conveniently carry your diabetes supplies everywhere. Classy bags designed to make your diabetic lifestyle a little easier
- Diabetes Designs
Diabetes Designs - Classic Cases Charms Fun Stuff! Compact Cases Couture Cases Glucose Tab Keychain Diabetes Bags Cold Cases Diabetes, cases, meter, case, blood sugar, fashionable, stylish
- The Insulin Case Shop
Discounted Diabetic Supplies for the Diabetic
- Unique Diabetic Supplies Case in hundreds of Artistic Patterns
Designer Medical Supply Holder for Diabetics Unique, artistic diabetic case safely and securely holds insulin pen and replacement pen needles. This elegant diabetic supply case is customized with cool anodized aluminum or shimmery iridescent color ac