So I had class yesterday (a graduate course taught by a guess professor who is really well known, with a bunch of other grad students from another university), and I started feeling my bloodsugar drop about 15 minutes before class let out. I knew I could make it through the next 15 minutes before getting a snack outside.

But then, I was called on to translate something. It's the first time I was called upon in the entire term, and there I was trying to figure out Proto-Italic with a dropping blood sugar. I couldn't do it. I tried, but I couldn't put words with definitions. I could barely read. I was all sweaty and almost burst into tears. The other students were looking at me wondering why I couldn't do it (probably wondering if I had prepared for class of not), and finally I told him that I was diabetic and thought my blood sugar was dropping. He said that's okay, he didn't mean to put me on the spot, and called someone else.

After class, he told me he was type 2, and knew exactly how I felt. It made me feel a bit better (as I was shoving a granola bar down my throat), but I'm still really embarrassed.

Firstly, I'm trying to convince myself that I can take care of myself and get a PhD. It's really hard, from health care issues to the weakened immune system and illnesses to the overwhelming stress that makes my blood sugar levels really hard to monitor. And of course, when something like this happens, I feel like maybe I'm not meant to be a scholar.

Then there is the fear that people think I use diabetes as an excuse or that I'm lying about it to cover up my preparedness for class. I had prepared yesterday but you'd never know. I think this is the worst. I'd rather just not have this disease at all, and I'd rather not be thought of as a diabetic, than someone whose disease prevents them from doing a good job.

Then, of course, there is the ever annoying "why don't you just take snacks to class" or "just make sure your blood sugar is in control" or other pieces of advice that I could use. Well, duh. 9 times out of 10 I remember to bring my snacks and blood testing supplies to class, and my low was just a slip, I accidentally over-corrected for a snack. I still had things relatively in control, I just couldn't do complicated translations.

Views: 29

Comment by Bradford on February 24, 2010 at 1:51pm
I teach at a Bachelor level and I've had that happen to me while teaching before...thought I could make it to the end of class, and ended up just confusing the students pretty bad. I ended up having to stop class early, told them I'd clarify at the beginning of the next class, and went from there. My students all know I have diabetes so it wasn't a big issue (and I'm sure they were happy to get out of class for the day :-) but it's still frustrating that I sometimes let diabetes 'get the best of me'. It's not an everyday occurrence though, so I try not to let it bother me too much.
I don't think you should give up on your goal of attaining a PhD! It's definitely do-able. And it is definitely annoying to hear all of the 'suggestions' about "common sense" items like taking glucose with you, controlling better, etc. We are not perfect, and we make mistakes (like correction factor mistakes). Don't take those 'suggestions' to heart, and just keep on doing what you're doing (you can do it!).
Congratulations to you for pursuing further your education, and good luck with your goal!
Comment by Jeannene Herber on February 24, 2010 at 2:48pm
I finished a graduate program almost three years ago. I didn't tell any of my professors about my diabetes, that was a mistake. I found out after I graduated that one of my professors was. I had a couple of similar situations, the difference was that some of my fellow students knew and would offer candy if they had it.
Comment by Betty J on February 24, 2010 at 6:12pm
Never keep your Diabetes a secret. It's not a shameful thing. Always let someone know in case you need help. I come from the era when D was supposed to kept a secret which I never did. I realized from childhood it wasn't anything I did. Like you I never used D as an excuse for anthing I couldn't do or understand. Stand and be proud of who you are, even with D!!
Comment by PatientX on February 24, 2010 at 7:05pm
I think you are meant to be what you want to be. Yep its great to be prapared but sometimes things dont go our way. I am a software engineer and at one point we had a very critical project that went bad and I was put on the spot to explain what went wrong with the project. It was a long morning and I had a very small breakfast. I started tanking and felt the low comming on. I could put words together to explain what happened. I finally told them that I was out of sugar and needed a drink. I walked out of the room went straight to the coke machine and came right back. I slammed a coke and requested 15 minutes. I came back and explained the issues. After that I went to my desk and I was at about 85 with slamming a coke after checking. So I must of hit it real low. So the point of this story it happens to the best of us. If you are at the masters level you have already accomplished a lot more than most healthy people.

take care and keep with your studies
Comment by Kathyann on February 24, 2010 at 7:23pm
I got home from work today and discovered that I had filled the cat's bowl full of dog food. Diabetes brain, that's what that was.
Comment by Jackie on February 24, 2010 at 7:42pm
I'm currently a grad student (masters) and this is one my fears! I don't get too many lows but I've had a few during class and I was so afraid that I would get called on. Most of the people in my classes know that I have D and I told my health policy professor while we were discussing chronic disease management in class and he said something completely wrong about diabetes management and I called him on it. My program is really small, so I wouldn't be surprised if the rest of my professors just figured it out, since the program often eats meals together.
One of the people in my program will offer a cookie or a piece of chocolate to people then come up to me and go "Can you have this?" instead of "Do you want some?" and it really annoys me.
Comment by Rolland on February 24, 2010 at 9:40pm
WOW, you have nothing to be embarrassed about. I go through this too, and I know how you feel, but all I can say is be very very proud of yourself!
Comment by Gerri on February 24, 2010 at 11:05pm
I've had a hard time making phone call when low, so can't imagine doing anything as complex as a translation.

Yea, it's embarrassing. Been there & will be there again many times. I've done what you did by telling people I'm diabetic, rather than being thought an idiot or worse.

My husband's a professor & most of our friends are. Teachers can tell who's not prepared, which ones are looking for an excuse & who the dedicated students are. It becomes second nature to recognize the slackers instantly.

He's has grad students with all kinds of medical issues. He's really sensitive to the diabetics because of me. Good to tell your professors privately.

You can get your Ph.D. & will do great! You're meant to be scholar because you want to be one. We all have self-doubt, but don't let that negative voice in your head get loud & keep you from your goals.
Comment by Matthew Yarbrough on February 25, 2010 at 12:48pm
If it makes you feel any better, I just had to leave greek to chane a bad infusion site when I slipped back into the class the teacher called for a break
Comment by jmac on February 25, 2010 at 6:00pm
When I feel getting low and know I cant get to anything. first thing I do is program my pump for a temporary basel to 0 for about an hour. Works every time.

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