A person wakes up in the morning, gets ready for the day and goes about their business. If they feel really happy during the day, they might feel their heart racing or palms sweating. If they feel flustered over something, they might forget things or have a moment of stress. Yet they might not see a direct reflection in forms of a blood glucose number. For me, living with type 1 diabetes means often having a number to match all my emotions. When I am really happy my blood sugar might plummet to 40 mg/dL. If I am flustered my blood sugar might skyrocket to 200 mg/dL. As much as I have never let diabetes affect my experiences in life, during major life transitions my diabetes management will always change and affect the new lifestyle.
I attend Rowan University in southern New Jersey. The University is twenty minutes away from my house, so I commute to school. I had the luxury of being in my usual environment when I graduated from high school, which helped with managing my diabetes during the college transition. And recently, when I took an internship with The College Diabetes Network in Boston, I knew the experience would affect the way I managed my diabetes because I would be living on my own, in a different environment.
To manage my diabetes during this transition, I told myself I would take a week to listen to my body. I would not get upset or stressed about highs or lows at unexpected times. Instead, I would take note of the new patterns. I found this vital to my success at managing my diabetes through this transition because I did not add stress by getting upset or flustered. After the first week, I noticed I was running on the lower side more often because I was in a city and was walking everywhere. I adjusted my basal to avoid going low. This fixed worked! There were times, of course, I would go low or high, but I became very confident in my abilities to learn the patterns of my body during this transition.
Although I started off having a positive outlook and feeling confident I had learned the patterns of my diabetes during this transition, they did not stay steady throughout. It was sometimes difficult to track the patterns and keep on top of them. At home, it is easy to manage my diabetes in chunks. Once my semester is in session, it is usually easy to find patterns and to eat at the same time. But in Boston, this was much different. I tried not to be discouraged by feeling like I had a lack of control sometimes.
I learned that managing my diabetes is not something I can look at from a broad viewpoint. I have to take it one day at a time, especially when entering new environments and when new emotions may arise.
I learned so much about managing my diabetes through a transitional phase. Patterns are not as easily tracked as I would like them to be. At times managing diabetes can be frustrating, but if you take it one day at a time, you will feel healthy and more in control.
Abbey G has lived with type 1 diabetes for almost seven years now. She volunteers with JDRF and is a chapter leader of the College Diabetes Network at Rowan University. She will be graduating in May with a degree in Public Relations and Advertising.