College Diabetes Week Day 5: My Advice to a High School Student with Diabetes

My final post for College Diabetes Week 2017…already?!

Here’s the prompt:

What advice would you give a high school student with diabetes preparing for college?

I would tell a T1D high school student who’s bound for college that these next four years are going to be some of the most formative, exciting, and opportunity-filled years in their life. Don’t take them for granted!!! With everything that will happen in college, it’s beyond important to prioritize health. Take care of your mental and physical health as well as your diabetes. Self-care works wonders on all aspects of your health, so don’t deprive yourself of it.

Do things for you. Explore. Share with others. Seek support when you need it. You are NEVER alone and there’s no shame in asking for help from others. Remember that the people who love us want the best for us and often WANT to help us – they just don’t always know how they can do that. So tell them how they can show support for you. You and your support system will thrive as long as you’re willing to share with one another.

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Hey, it’s me! Here I am giving some advice in a video featured on CDN’s YouTube channel.

Before I wrap up my blogging for College Diabetes Week 2017, I want to tell all students who are involved with CDN that they are amazing. I love seeing the various activities that CDN Chapters across the country are working on throughout the school year. These students are innovators and sources of inspiration – true assets to the diabetes community. Know that your work doesn’t go unnoticed! As a CDN alum, it makes me proud to see the national CDN and its dozens of Chapters flourish.

College Diabetes Week Day 4: Triumphs in the Face of Diabetes

Happy Thursday! Let’s shift the mood a bit from yesterday’s challenging post to a more upbeat one:

Share your triumphs! How have you tackled the challenges you’ve faced relating to diabetes and college? What did college and diabetes teach you as a person?

I wrote about how I excelled in college despite my diabetes last year, so this year I’m going to write about how I’ve triumphed in the “real world”. The major challenges I’ve tackled, and succeeded in, include:

  • Landing my first “real world” job. There’s many aspects to this accomplishment that make me proud: I’ve gained experience writing in a professional setting, I’ve been able to pay off my student loans, and I’ve thrived in this environment. But what I feel especially triumphant about is the fact that my diabetes has NEVER interfered with my job. I’m always able to turn in assignments on time and I’ve never had a bad hypo while at work. Diabetes is seldom my reason for not feeling well, and I’m fortunate to be working with a group of kind, caring, and inquisitive individuals who support me and my diabetes.
  • Overcoming my fear of traveling alone. Three years post-graduation, I’ve flown on more planes than I can actually count. I’ll estimate that I travel every other month, mainly for personal reasons, but the first time I did it alone was far from easy. My anxiety was through the roof and I was beyond paranoid, constantly rifling through my bags to quadruple-check that I had all my supplies and breathing shakily during take-offs. Rather than dwell on how nervous I used to be, though, I prefer to remind myself that I continue to travel in spite of all this.
  • Launching my own diabetes blog. This recent triumph is one that I’m especially proud of. I was incredibly hesitant for a long time to create my own blog. Many times, I had to remind myself why it was important for me to just go ahead and do it. These reasons include 1) I wanted to share a more personal side of my diabetes experience, 2) I hoped to reach a wider audience and foster more connections in the diabetes community, and 3) I desired a creative outlet through which I could share my story. Though it’s been scary at times to be so vulnerable on my blog, I’ve greatly enjoyed having one of my own and look forward to improving it in the future.
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My 10-year Lilly medal is a tangible representation of my diabetes triumphs – next month, it’ll be 20 years!

Speaking of things to look forward to, I can’t wait to see what kinds of triumphs (both diabetes-related and otherwise) I’ll be able to claim this time next year!

College Diabetes Week Day 3: The Hardest Part about Living with Diabetes in College

Here is the prompt for today:

Share the hardest thing about living with diabetes in college. Don’t be afraid to talk about the things that are taboo, like mental health or burn out!

Last year, I wrote about how lonely I felt throughout college – that is, until I found the CDN! This year, I’m going to focus on a more taboo topic, something that I’ve struggled with in the last few years: anxiety.

The more I think about it, the more I realize that my anxiety towards my diabetes manifested itself in college. I was more worried about severe lows than ever, even though I didn’t have to cope with many of them.

But one particular day, it seemed like my blood sugar simply didn’t want to stay above 80. I was terrified. I knew all the tricks in the book to fix it, but that didn’t stop me from fretting over the matter. My lows consumed my mind and I couldn’t focus on anything else. I began to think about the “what ifs” – what if my blood sugar doesn’t come back up? What if I need help? What if I’m alone? What if I pass out? What if???

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I was absolutely frantic, forcing myself to eat 15 or so grams of carbs every hour just to keep level as I monitored the situation. I remember sitting in a 500+ person lecture hall for my psychology class with a T1D friend, who watched me anxiously test my blood sugar three times within 30 minutes. “You’ve got to calm down a bit,” she’d said. “Remember, it’ll take your body time to process all of the carbs.”

She was right, of course. And by the end of the day, I hadn’t experienced a blood sugar below 80 for a couple hours. It seemed like the episode was over. And I was fine.

That’s what I like to think about when I remember this certain episode. I was fine. As scared as I felt at points throughout the day, I took action to stabilize my blood sugar. I monitored the situation carefully and still performed my responsibilities as a student by attending classes. I was fine.

And I will be fine, despite my diabetes, because I’m determined to overcome the hardest parts of living with it.

College Diabetes Week Day 2: The Impact of CDN

The next prompt for College Diabetes Week 2017 is:

Share the impact that being involved with CDN has had on you!

This is my second time around responding to the College Diabetes Week blog prompts, but this doesn’t mean that I’m answering them in the exact same way. For instance, last year I wrote about how grateful I am for the friendships and connections I’ve made because of CDN, and how my involvement with CDN was my first true leadership opportunity.

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A college-aged Molly at a tabling event for the UMass Amherst Chapter of the CDN!

But this year I want to talk about how CDN has influenced my perception of persistence. We all know the phrase “persistence pays off”, but it never really registered with me until I got involved with CDN. I experienced firsthand how important it is to advocate for yourself and what you believe in when I was trying to get my Chapter registered at UMass Amherst. It was a major challenge, but I persevered despite of the obstacles I faced because I wanted to accomplish my goal. And I did.

As a result, I make an effort to give 100% of myself when I get involved in new projects. I find something that I’m passionate about and don’t give in until I see it come to fruition. This blog, for example, wouldn’t have happened unless I persisted to take risks.

CDN’s impact on me has been profound, and I look forward to see how it positively affects the lives of many other T1Ds for years to come!

College Diabetes Week Day 1: Daily Life with Diabetes, in a Picture

Today marks the beginning of the 4th Annual College Diabetes Week! This week is hosted by my friends at the College Diabetes Network as a part of National Diabetes Awareness Month. They encourage people within the diabetes community to get involved and follow along throughout the week, whether you’re still in college or not! Stay tuned with the week’s activities by following the hashtag #CDW17 across various social media platforms. They will also be posting updates on their blog, so be sure to check that out, as well!

Throughout College Diabetes Week, I’ll be posting blogs that respond to prompts provided by the CDN. We’ll start with the Monday prompt:

Post a selfie or a picture of day-to-day life living with diabetes in college!

I may not be a college student anymore, but I still live an active lifestyle with diabetes. I felt that this image summed up my daily life with T1D fairly well:

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This is an image of my PDM (Personal Diabetes Manager), with the “confidence reminder” menu open. Confidence is a major component of diabetes care. You have to be confident in your abilities to carb count, inject insulin, and respond appropriately to certain situations. You have to be confident in yourself and trust that you can take the best possible care of yourself. Some days that confidence is there, but others it’s not. And both are okay. Unlike the “confidence reminder” option, diabetes isn’t something that you can choose to turn on or off. Daily life with diabetes is constantly trying, and confidence levels will vary.

This is why I chose to visually represent confidence in my snapshot of my life with diabetes.