Back to College with Diabetes

You may remember Medtronic Diabetes Ambassador, Addie from her thoughts on being in high school with diabetes and navigating her first year of college. Today, we asked her to share how she’s feeling about going into her junior year of college.

I like to think that I am officially an expert at the whole “college kid” thing. I am a wizard at navigating the back-to-school sales at Target and Bed Bath and Beyond, I have collected enough jean jackets, turtlenecks, and oversized sweaters to warm an entire colony of hipster penguins, and I even play the acoustic guitar adequately enough that I can join an impromptu jam session and not “ruin the vibe.” However, just as cool as my fashion sense and riffing abilities are the ways I manage to live responsibly and independently – like my habit of making my bed every morning, or my talent for staying in budget while grocery shopping and, most importantly, my determination when it comes to taking care of my type 1 diabetes.

I am about to start my junior year, and I already know that this semester is going to be more challenging than what I’ve experienced before. I will be taking advanced courses in biology and chemistry, heading two campus clubs, working as a tour guide and course tutor and doing neuroscience research with one of my professors. I’ll also (hopefully) be sleeping and eating and getting some sun every once in a while. Most of my time and energy will be occupied by the busy life I’ve created for myself at school, so I can’t exactly pencil in “2:00pm – 4:00pm: excessively worry about my blood sugars” into my overflowing planner.

However, much of the mental burden that used to accompany my T1D management has been alleviated in the last seven months since I began using the MiniMed 670G system. I have never been more excited to start a new semester because I know that the little beeping machine hanging out on my hip will serve as a secret weapon as I tackle both my academic and personal goals this year. I am more confident in my diabetes management than I’ve ever been because I own a device that proves its power over and over again by consistently keeping my blood sugars in range, especially in situations where I have previously struggled.

STUDYING, AND STUDYING WELL

My BG’s are notorious for spiking for seemingly minor anxieties, like seeing a spider in the bathroom or politely socializing with other human beings. So, naturally, when all of my professors decide to schedule their exams and 10-page papers in the same two-day period, I typically find myself in a spell of high blood sugars that don’t budge below 250 mg/dL for days until my stress has completely dissipated. This was actually something that I used to plan for when studying. I would make a conscious effort to start preparing for exams at least two weeks in advance, not because I was a super-student, but because I knew that as I got closer to the test date, I would not be able to concentrate well because of the inevitability of my BG’s trending high. (Trust me—if you thought that studying for an organic chemistry test was difficult without hectic blood sugars, try conceptualizing complex reaction mechanisms with a BG of 375 mg/dL. It’s tricky.) But now that I am on the MiniMed 670G system, I no longer worry about my body’s tendency for self-sabotage when I’m under pressure. The moment my blood sugars start spiking, my pump springs into action, increasing my basal rates on my behalf so that I don’t have to think about—or even notice—that I’m going high. All I have to do is focus on the exact same thing my peers are—crushing it.

LIVING ALONE (AND GETTING ENOUGH SLEEP!)

Part of the quintessential college experience is moving out of your childhood home and into a life with far less adult supervision. For T1D students, being away from family and friends and suddenly living in a strange land filled with many kids who don’t know a pancreas from a potato can be extremely overwhelming. I definitely felt this way when I started school, so I was anxious about teaching my roommate about diabetes. I didn’t want to overwhelm this girl who I had just met, with information about how to inject glucagon and when to call 911. I got lucky, as my roommate was endlessly understanding and quickly became one of my best friends who I knew could trust with anything—whether it be keeping secrets about boys or grabbing me a juice box when I was going low.

This year will be different, though, because my roommate is leaving me for baguettes and berets to study abroad in France, so I will be living alone for the first time. Normally, this would make me nervous; even though I have been managing my health independently for many years, I have always had peace of mind knowing that someone was always around just in case I needed immediate help. In reality, however, I could not be more comfortable with the thought of having my own space because I have established so much trust in my MiniMed 670G system, that I feel even more safe with this device than I ever have with just my roommate or my parents. Since I started the pump in January, I have had hardly any nighttime lows, which, in my opinion, are one of the scariest parts of living with T1D. I wake up every morning and look at my CGM graph, and usually see that I spent the whole night in range. This has also contributed massively to the quality of my sleep, which is important, because I’m already not getting a whole lot of shut eye as a college student, so when I do manage to get some to rest, it has to be good. My sleep used to be interrupted multiple times a week by low BG alarms in the middle of the night, resulting in me angrily force-feeding myself gummy bears in bed until I could get my blood sugars to rise enough. But now, I just eat gummy bears in bed on my own volition. No lows necessary (or even present to begin with)!

BLAZING CONFIDENCEAddie College Diabetes

Going into the school year with a positive and productive mindset is absolutely essential to success. I have never been one to allow type 1 diabetes to dictate what I can and can’t achieve, but I also am not ignorant of the fact that T1D has a rude tendency of making things just a little bit more difficult than they need to be. Give T1D a task, and T1D will say, “Okay, but what if instead of doing the task, we set the task ON FIRE and then tried doing the task? How about that?” I like to think that the MiniMed 670G system is the smoke detector and the sprinkler system—it gets one whiff of T1D’s arsonist shenanigans and stops the damage before it can start. This gives me a strong sense of confidence going into this semester that is unprecedented. What used to make me so self-conscious was the unknown element with my diabetes—the idea that I didn’t have nearly as much control as I should or could. Even after fourteen years, I do not have this disease completely figured out just yet—I still have my off-days—but I am more sure now than I have ever been before that I possess the tools necessary to look at T1D in the face and tell it who the boss lady is. (Which is me. I am the boss lady.) I am more than capable of not only graduating but making an impact in the real world with what I’ve learned over the years. The more time I spend in range—not focused on my diabetes—the more time I have to watch my goals bloom into the realities I’ve always envisioned them to be. It’s an incredible feeling, and it will certainly come to define my (and your) college career.

Important Safety Information

The Medtronic MiniMed™ 670G system is intended for continuous delivery of basal insulin (at user selectable rates) and administration of insulin boluses (in user selectable amounts) for the management of type 1 diabetes mellitus in persons, seven years of age and older, requiring insulin as well as for the continuous monitoring and trending of glucose levels in the fluid under the skin. The MiniMed™ 670G system includes SmartGuard™ technology, which can be programmed to automatically adjust the delivery of basal insulin based on Continuous Glucose Monitor sensor glucose values,and can suspend delivery of insulin when the sensor glucose value falls below or is predicted to fall below predefined threshold values. The system requires a prescription. The Guardian™ Sensor (3) glucose values are not intended to be used directly for making therapy adjustments, but rather to provide an indication of when a fingerstick may be required.

A confirmatory finger stick test via the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter is required prior to making adjustments to diabetes therapy. All therapy adjustments should be based on measurements obtained using the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter and not on values provided by the Guardian Sensor (3).  Always check the pump display to ensure the glucose result shown agrees with the glucose results shown on the CONTOUR®NEXT LINK 2.4 blood glucose meter. Do not calibrate your CGM device or calculate a bolus using a blood glucose meter result taken from an Alternative Site (palm) or from a control solution test. It is also not recommended to calibrate your CGM device when sensor or blood glucose values are changing rapidly, e.g., following a meal or physical exercise.  If a control solution test is out of range, please note that the result may be transmitted to your pump when in the “Always” send mode.

Pump therapy is not recommended for people whose vision or hearing does not allow recognition of pump signals and alarms. Pump therapy is not recommended for people who are unwilling or unable to maintain contact with their healthcare professional. The safety of the MiniMed™ 670G system has not been studied in pregnant women. For complete details of the system, including product and important safety information such as indications, contraindications, warnings, and precautions associated with system and its components, please consult http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/important-safety-information#minimed-670g and the appropriate user guide at http://www.medtronicdiabetes.com/download-library

 

 

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