Successfully managing diabetes in college—how Logan (and her mom) made it through the first two years
Looking forward to her junior year at Ball State University, Logan has learned a great deal about managing every aspect of her diabetes, and her mom Kelly has learned a lot about how capable her daughter really is. They took time out of their summer break to chat with us about their experience.
First off, Logan, what are you studying?
Logan: I'm getting a degree in psychology with a minor in criminology. My goal is to work with a police department as a forensic psychologist or a crime scene analyst. I was working on a research project for an English class, and I was enthralled by how various inputs, like music, could affect people's moods and personality. I just knew I wanted to go down that route.
How long were you living with diabetes by the time you left for college?
Logan: I was in the seventh grade when I was diagnosed.
Kelly: She was eating a lot of food that wasn't really good for her and losing weight. She was always hungry and going to the restroom. She was pale, and I noticed that her breath smelled sweet. I looked online and saw that all the symptoms matched diabetes. Sure enough, her doctor sent us to the ER and then we spent some time at the Children's Hospital in Indianapolis.
So you'd been living with diabetes for about 5 years when you graduated high school?
Logan: I think it helped that I was a little older when I was diagnosed. I was pretty self-sufficient from the start, taking over my shots and checking my blood glucose. It got harder in high school, when I started socializing more and my mom wasn't always there to remind me.
How did college compare to high school?
Logan: My number-one challenge was that I needed to work harder in every aspect of my life. Not just classes, but living by myself and making my own decisions. I had to pay more attention to diabetes—I couldn't just lock myself in the library and forget to eat or check. My mom wasn't there, and it's not like my friends were reminding me to check my blood sugar before going to the dining hall. I definitely lost some of my control there, but I'm back on track now.
Kelly, how plugged in were you at that point?
Kelly: In high school, I'd always remind her to take her shot before bed. So I texted her a few times. Of course I had concerns, but I just had to trust her. When she came home for Christmas, I reminded her to take her shot, and she said, "Oh, I haven't heard that for a while." Now diabetes is her thing to take care of and mine to worry about.
How do you prefer to manage your blood glucose?
Logan: I've had a pump, but I was doing track at the time, and it was a pain. The sets would get ripped off. I just prefer the control of the pen. I use the Accu-Chek® Aviva Expert meter, and that lets me calculate how much insulin to inject.
Even with the bolus calculator, was it challenging to adapt to new food and routines? Did you have to deal with the "freshman 15?"
Logan: For me, it was more like a "freshman 20." There were so many options on campus—anything you could ask for. I would eat and not think about bolusing. And I was active before, but I never really had to think about it until I was on my own.
Last year, when I was a sophomore, I made sure I got more regular exercise, and I don't eat as much on campus, so it's easier to stay in control.
Are you feeling more comfortable, Kelly, with Logan going into her third year away?
Kelly: I think having diabetes and having to manage it had helped Logan even more in life. She's never been, "Woe is me," or "Why do I have this?" She surprises me—she just figures things out.
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