Going away to college is an exciting time in life, but for students managing Type 1 diabetes, it can be a challenging transition. Check out these tips for maintaining your diabetes care while you are away at school:
1. Get acquainted with health services
It is a good idea to figure out where your campus health services facility is and to pay it a visit soon after you move into school. The Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation notes that since you will probably be away from your normal doctor, you should introduce yourself and explain your condition to the medical workers at your college. Ask if there is a nutritionist on staff, or a doctor or nurse practitioner you can contact with questions or emergency concerns. Put the office's phone number on your cell phone so it’s always available in case you need help.
2. Figure out where the closest pharmacy is
Before move-in day, it is a good idea to locate the closest pharmacy and have your prescriptions transferred there. The JDRF notes that while many large campuses have pharmacies on school grounds, they may not be open on nights or weekends, so it is a good idea to find one that is close by with flexible hours. Map how far away it is from your dorm—if it seems a little too far for frequent walks, consider bringing a car or bike when you move to the campus, or look into public transportation ahead of time.
3. Be open with your roommates
Diabetes Self-Management recommends chatting with your roommates before you arrive at school, but saving the conversation about your Type 1 diabetes until you meet them in person. This way, you can tell them facts about your condition, teach them how you deal with it, and answer their questions instead of leaving them searching the internet and finding false information. Try organizing a roommate meeting the first night in your dorm. Show them cartridges, vials of insulin, infusion sets, strips, syringes, your meter and any other tools or items you may have. Be sure to tell your resident assistant as well, and ask them if they know of any other students in your building with diabetes—it is always good to meet someone else who knows what you are dealing with.
4. Check out dining hall options
Most colleges have wide ranges of food choices to accommodate a variety of dietary restrictions, but it is always a good idea to check out your options before picking a regular dining spot. Hope Paige suggests finding a fresh salad bar and adding grilled chicken for a high-protein, low-sugar go-to meal. Steer clear of grab-and-go pizza, cheeseburgers, and desserts. They might seem tempting and convenient, but they are full of fat, grease, and sugar that may have a negative effect on your blood sugar levels and overall health. Instead, keep a variety of diabetes-friendly snacks in your dorm room and your backpack to satisfy cravings without sacrificing your health.
What tips do you have for people with diabetes headed to college? Leave your advice or questions in the comments below.