Hi Everyone,

 

My 18-year old daughter is a freshman at Emory University in Georgia and was diagnosed with Type 1 back on Sep 7 just about 2 weeks ago. Our home is in the Los Angeles area, so, she's some 2500 miles away. I'm at a crossroads and don't know what to do and need some help, suggestions, etc. Perhaps a little background first...

 

The first couple of weeks of school was particularly tough for her as she was struggling big time with homesickness. After a week I instituted a nightly conference call for her with me and my parents, brothers, sister, etc, and it really helped her as she was starting to find her stride. Then... wham!! she's diagnosed with Type 1. I was on a business trip when she called from the health center at school where they told her she needed to be hospitalized to get her blood sugar down from 538 as she was likely diabetic. I was in Phoenix at the time and immediately flew to Atlanta and was in her hospital room at 9:45PM that same evening. I've been here ever since helping her get adjusted to her new life as a Type 1 diabetic and am planning to head home tomorrow afternoon after almost 2 weeks being here. She's scared and so am I........

 

My daughter and I have a phenomenal relationship. She knows that I will be there for her in any way whenever she needs me. Our bond is exactly as I imagined it would be even when I told her mom all those years ago when she was only 2 that although her mom and I were divorcing there was no way that I was ever divorcing my daughter!! I've always encouraged her to face the difficulties in her life head on and to tackle things as they come. She's extremely capable in just about every way in life - even when she doubts herself she gets surprised at what she accomplishes. Maybe this is too much all at one time?!

 

Freshman year is hard enough for young adults as they head out on their own trying to make their way in a sea of strangers, responsibilities and freedoms they've never before had. Adding a new diagnosis and trying to manage her insulin, carb counting, prescriptions, supplies, snacks, BG testing, ketones, lows, highs, 2AM tests, calling in her levels, doctors appointments, etc, along with classes, studying and all the other freshman-year-stresses just seems waaaaay too overwhelming!!

 

A lot of you on this discussion have been dealing with all of this for years... knowing what you know now, if you were in my shoes then what would you do? Would you encourage her to take a semester or a year off to learn all of this Type 1 stuff first and then go back to tackle school? Would you tell her not to change her life on account of this disease and simply keep moving forward and tackle this day-by-day? Would you take a leave of absence from work to go live near her for a few months while she attends school so you can help her tackle the diabetes simultaneously?

 

I am completely lost and have no idea which way to turn!! And, I haven't even yet mentioned my irrational fear of her slipping into a low while sleeping and I'm not there to test her in the middle of the night!!

 

Thanks for any encouragement... guidance... or anything else you can give!!

 

-Schmaps (aka Rob).

Tags: college, diagnosis, dx, new

Views: 368

Replies to This Discussion

My son was diagnosed at 18 months so it's the opposite end of the spectrum from your situation, BUT I also have a 17-year-old daughter so I know what they're like. I would definitely, DEFINITELY encourage you & her to consider taking at least a semester, and more likely a year, off to learn how to handle her diabetes before she starts school again. Here's why:

1. The stress of being a college freshman + the stress of learning how to manage diabetes is more stress than any one person needs at any one time. Learning to manage diabetes is a full time job, 24-7, because it's all about pattern recognition... and to do it well, you really need to focus on it. College will still be there in a year; the chance to really get good at managing diabetes effectively is something she needs to do now. Besides, trying to learn new subjects with not-very-well-controlled blood sugar is a losing proposition -- low or high, if your blood sugar is out of whack it's going to affect your ability to concentrate and learn. Get her BG situation stable, THEN send her back to college.
2. Your fear of her slipping into a low is not irrational. Until you figure out her day-to-day patterns, what sends her high/low, how much insulin she needs under what circumstances, it's best to proceed cautiously.
3. Don't tell her not to change her life -- her life WILL change, whether she wants it to or not. Diabetes doesn't need to consume her life, but in order to be healthy and have the ability to do the things she wants to do in her life, she's going to have to accommodate it.
4. Team up with the folks at Emory so she's not going it alone -- they have a phenomenal medical school there and I can't believe they don't have a diabetes clinic. The school is a resource -- use it!

I'd say more but my own little T1 just came in looking for mommy :)
Hi Elizabeth,

Thanks for your suggestions and insight. As it turns out, my daughter did indeed stay at school for 1st semester and did exceptionally well dealing with the Diabetes and with her courseload (she got straight A's!). However, she also started getting a little depressed by the end of the semester. So, she took a medical leave of absence from school for 2nd semester with the intention of returning to school in the Fall. So far so good!

I hope that things are going well with your little one (and older one!)... :-)

-Rob.
I realize it may be a bit too soon after dx to consider my suggestion. But, regardless of whether you are on shots or a pump, I would consider getting a Dexcom 7 Plus system ASAP. Along with a baby monitor to amplify the sounds of the alarm. A continuous glucose monitor will bring some peace of mind and extra safety, as the child is living alone at college and parents will not be available to help check blood sugars in the middle of the night. For a child or young adult living on their own, I consider a cgms to be the most invaluable tool your child could use. I suggest the Dexcom because IMO it is the easiest and least invasive on the market to date. Each sensor lasts 7 days and most who use Dexcom restart the device and get 9, 10 or more days out of each sensor. Insurance will often pay (you may have to appeal). Once your child gets used to cgms, it will give her a lot of freedom. P.S. Make sure to put the Receiver on a nightstand next to a loud alarm (baby monitor) though. Alarms are not yet loud enough and your child may not respond to vibrate when asleep. P.S. I would leave the decision of whether to take off from college up to her, but if you want to take a leave of absence and stay near her for a few months, that would be wonderful, so helpful, and FMLA at your place of employment should allow you to do so. I would not feel comfortable leaving her at college alone with no help, no night time checks until she was trained and comfortable, and wearing cgms, yet I would not feel it right to ask her to take a leave of absence if she did not want to do so. But if you, your wife or some close relative could go live with her and help her until she gets on her feet, I think that would be a great solution. I know for many that would not be doable, but you did mention this as an option.....

Hello everybody,

I'm chiming in years late on this and in a potentially spammy manner, but there is an app for this.

Diabesties was released in Nov 2012 through the College Diabetes Network as a way for people at college to track and share BG readings (and comments!) with each other to get support while away from home.

It's completely free and I personally find it very helpful for parents of kids at any age where the kid can operate, or even just take to school, a smart phone.

In the spirit of full-disclosure, I work for the company (Ayogo Health) that made the app. But, it is completely free. There isn't even a way to give us, or the CDN, money through the app! :oD

My brother and I share our BG readings, and taunt each other mercilessly, with Diabesties. And, once my youngest has a device he can take to school, I'll stay in touch with him and his BG readings through it too. Yes, we ALL have T1D - it runs screaming naked in the family I like to say.

My best to everybody with all the challenges you face.

Cheers,
Adrian

The best move I ever made was getting a college education. It eventually led me to a great position at a decent paying job, and when I became too blind to drive and started getting wounds on my feet that wouldn't heal from standing all day, that higher income paid off. Your disability payments are based on your former income. Aside from that, the college years were some of the most enjoyable of my life. Definitely encourage her to go.

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