Julianne Goes to College
Julianne, who was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age 3, was not worried about managing her blood glucose levels while away at school. “When I was really young, I went to the American Diabetes Association’s Camp Triangle D. That’s where I learned how to do shots on my own,” said Julianne. “So when I was in high school, I was already taking care of myself. My parents always asked if I had taken my shot, or checked my blood sugar, but I think that was mostly out of habit,” she said.
Taking Care of Lows (and parents!)
Although Julianne was in control of her blood glucose levels, during high school she often woke up low and disoriented. As she prepared to go to the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, she knew her parents had concerns. “I was very proactive about getting myself up. I set two alarm clocks to be sure one of them would wake me up and I always kept juice or snacks nearby. If I woke up in the morning with a low, I’d set my alarm to wake up in the middle of the night the next night to check my blood sugar and address it then so I wouldn’t wake up low the next morning.”
Julianne also made sure she was always around other people. “I lived in a suite with seven other girls so I didn’t have to depend on only one roommate, should something go wrong — not that it ever did,” said Julianne. “Everyone knew I had diabetes and I’d ask friends to check on me if I was late to class or an appointment to make sure I was just running late.”
Communication is Key
The key to Julianne’s successful management of her blood glucose levels at school was that she was always communicating with someone. “I talked to my parents everyday,” she said. “We didn’t have long conversations and it wasn’t always about diabetes, but I’d always talk to them if my blood sugar was running higher or lower than normal,” she said. “It’s good to get a different perspective because my mom would ask if I might be getting a cold or if something else had changed,” said Julianne.
Julianne also connected with a nurse at the student health center. “She told me to come by if I ever needed anything. It was nice to know a health care professional there and I’m sure it made my parents feel a lot better too,” said Julianne, “but I never had any major episodes during my four and a half years.”
Advice to other college-bound teens with diabetes
- Tell your RA and roommates about your diabetes and educate them about your signs of highs and lows.
- Be proactive about managing your blood sugar levels.
- Ask friends to look for you if you’re not where you’re supposed to be.
- Be patient with your parents if they call you all the time.
- Connect with the student health center.
Find a Camp Near You
The American Diabetes Association’s Diabetes Camps provide a special time for kids with diabetes — one of the best times of the summer and one campers always remember.Learn More
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