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Uni life and Diabetes/ stress management

Discussion in 'Young People/Adults' started by Tomm95, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. Tomm95

    Tomm95 · Newbie

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    Hey there,

    I’ve been Type 1 Diabetic for 5 years now after being diagnosed at 16. I was just wondering if there are any uni students here who also struggle to manage their diabetes whilst studying?

    I’m currently in my 3rd year of a Chemistry degree. In my first 2 years at uni I had great control of my blood glucose levels (Hba1c of 5-6 mmol) which allowed me to push myself hard academically and achieve my goals..

    I found that this year however, my workload and stress just dominated my life, and I let my Diabetes management slip. I don’t have the energy that I used to and it means that I can’t study as efficiently as I used to. As I tried to revise for exams over the Christmas holidays i was lacking concentration because of my constantly high blood sugar levels. This made me more stressed and I struggled to eat anything, which then started to give me lots of hypos.

    Amongst all this I still have 4 exams to prepare for. A few days ago I cracked after having 4 hypos in a day and I ended up in A&E. With exams this coming week I’m in a bit of a bad state. I have left uni following advice from my personal tutor because my physical and mental state were deteriorating rapidly.

    I’m a bit low now because having worked relentlessly for the past 2 years I secured a placement at my dream workplace, and now I have gone home and am struggling to study, it feels that everything is going down the drain pipe.

    Sorry if this ones a bit personal but I just wanted to know if anyone else has a similar experience because I don’t know any T1 Diabetics at uni.

    Thanks
     
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    #1 Tomm95, Jan 12, 2019 at 12:37 AM
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  2. kitedoc

    kitedoc Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @Tomm95 , Sorry to hear you have had such a stressful and upsetting time.
    My Uni days are long ago but I do recall having to up my insulin before exams to 2 to 3 times normal per day.
    And this was before glucometers were available. So yes it was tough.
    I wonder whether having regular contact with your DSN or doctor would make a difference as you would have someone to bounce ideas off regarding insulin adjustments etc.
    Also I found exercise was a great remedy for stress, again in regular conversation with DSN or doctor regarding adjustment of insulin doses for the exercise sessions. I swam for exercise in the Uni pool but whatever exercise suits you sounds best.
    I hope you have been granted a deferral in your course so that you can at least repeat the year.
    Please do not forgive up on your dream. Work out a strategy involving your health team. Obtain some counselling to help deal with your stress, maybe. Such services are available at most Unis or via your GP.
    Also see whether there are other diabetics about to offer some peer support.
    Best Wishes.:):):):)
     
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  3. Grant_Vicat

    Grant_Vicat Don't have diabetes · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @Tomm95 Welcome to the Forum. Like @kitedoc I have not been in the student league for decades. I was lucky to be at King's College London and therefore an in and out-patient of the great hospital. In those days I had already spent all but one year with Type 1 and I was much iller than I realised or prepared to acknowledge more likely. I had very high readings 26mmol and often above, and I had to take my second year off, mainly because of retinopathy and going "inside" KCH for observation. As Kitedoc says, there were no publicly available testing machines in the late seventies and so much was guesswork. To gain an extra year I had to contact West Sussex County Council (yes, there were grants once), the College Dean and the head of our department (Classics). I must say that they were enormously helpful and the only pain was hand writing a large amount of letters and forms. I would imagine that much can be done on a laptop or phone now. Please don't give up - to be studying Chemistry (and in your 3rd year) indicates a rare brain and enormous amounts of work. I am certain, unless the University is not worthy of the name, that they would very much want to help you, including for their own prestige. I am just going to leave a smal excerpt of something I wrote concerning the second term of my first year at King's:
    One evening, in my first year at King’s, I was sitting at my desk, amazingly doing some work, when I was suddenly unable to see out of my right eye. It was as if a bottle of drawing ink had been poured into the eyeball. Various ideas flooded into my imagination, almost as rapidly as the real substance into my sight. Blind panic took control. I ran down Champion Hill and across Denmark Hill, straight into the Hospital, I would guess in under sixty seconds. Arriving at Accident and Emergency, I was greeted by the ubiquitous unsympathetic gaze of a receptionist:
    “What’s your problem?”
    “I can’t see out of my right eye.”
    “Who sent you here?”
    “I did.”
    “Did you contact your GP?”
    “Listen, I’m an outpatient here and I’m diabetic” (magic words).
    “Oh, I see, do you know your Hospital Number by any chance?”
    “Yes, A153034.”
    “Fantastic. Ah, Mr Vicat. I see from your notes that retinopathy has been noted. I’ll get someone to attend to you.”

    A doctor duly appeared and informed me that I had had a haemorrhage and that nothing could be done until it had cleared enough to see what damage had occurred. I was put under the care of Mr E.W.G. Davies, a short, wire-rimmed-bepectacled man with whispy grey hair, twinkly beaming eyes and an everlasting supply of Fox’s Glacier Mints stuffed into his white coat. I found this ironic, seeing that the majority of his patients were diabetic! During one of his consultations in my second year he asked me about my life. I told him that I was living in Kensal Rise; that I cycled into King’s College in the Strand every day; that I played squash; and that I drank moderately (I’m sure he didn’t fall for this). His response was that I should stop burn-ups on the Edgeware Road, that I should avoid squash, moderate my alcohol intake, and that I should shun aerobic exercise or anything that would make me red in the face. If I did not heed his words, I would be blind by the time I reached twenty-three.
    “Thank you” I said. “Do you realise that in one sentence you have ruled out all the finer points of living?”

    To say that I was depressed would be accurate, but somewhat insufficient. What was the point of carrying on in London? Was I likely to experience any of the ambitions I might entertain? Would I ever see my children? Worse still, would I ever have any? Would I ever drive and explore my country, let alone the World? How could I learn any more music? These were just some of the thoughts that spun round in my head, as though my brain had been sucked into a tumble dryer. I went into some of my favourite record shops in Central London, of which not one has survived. These included Discurio, Henry Stave and Templar Records. I spent £75.00 which in reality belonged to my father, since he had only just topped up my grant.
    Not only did I get a degree, but 40 years later I am typing this with only 2.5 reading glasses! I hope you succeed in your aims, including suppressing the Hydra of Type 1. Good luck!
     
    #3 Grant_Vicat, Jan 12, 2019 at 9:47 AM
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
  4. kitedoc

    kitedoc Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    @Grant_Vicat. I thank you, Grant, for a truly inspirational piece of writing and telling of your experiences.
    A great example for @Tomm95.
    On the subject of eye health, my story, a far less compelling one, occurred in my first year as a House Doctor, at Royal Prince Alfred Hospital, Sydney. I was an outpatient in the diabetic clinic and had been ordered a fluoroscein angiogram, You will probably recall the test. They line up the eye cameras and inject fluoroscein, this fluorescent dye, into your vein and watch as it transverses the blood vessels in each eye. Any bulges in the blood vessels and leakages show up and can be photographed.
    The actual test was interesting and I did have some small haemorrhages, which have subsequently vanished.
    But on returning to the operating theatre where I was on duty, I had not realised that the dye had made my skin and the whites of my eyes orange-yellow. I just happened to glance into a wall of stainless steel before I entered the surgeons' dining room. Shock, horror, I looked jaundiced to billyho. Them inside would all think I had Hepatitis and I would be persona non grata very quickly.
    As it happened I walked in, nobody, absolutely nobody, noticed. I had to smile. May be some doctors only notice things when in their 'medical context', not when eating lunch. What an interesting revelation and food for thought in my developing career!
    Both Uni and the first few years of medicine were tough. We survive.
    And @Tomm95, setbacks happen, you keep trying and accept help when it is offered or seeking it if need be.
    I just wished I could remember my patient ID number as efficiently as Grant!!
     
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  5. Grant_Vicat

    Grant_Vicat Don't have diabetes · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @kitedoc, I very much remember the fluoroscein, which the injector referred to as the "suntan treament". The first time he administered it I felt nauseous and a little shaky. A few months later I went for another "sunbathe" and as soon as the dye started to wing its way, I passed out on to the floor. They thought I might be hypo and gave me a test, even though I knew this was not the problem - mind you we always know,don't we?! I was, however, correct and he said "We won't be giving you that again". Recently I had to have a CT scan on my donor pancreas because of seriously elevated lipase (166). they had to be persuaded that I really am allergic to fluoroscein! Keep in good health.
     
    #5 Grant_Vicat, Jan 12, 2019 at 12:01 PM
    Last edited: Jan 14, 2019 at 6:44 PM
  6. alphabeta

    alphabeta Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hey Tom,
    Short intro: I was diagnosed when I was just 9. Will be 19 next Feb. and a 2nd year student.
    This semester has been challenging for me on both aspects. It took me a lot of time to pinpoint all my problems and solve them. My bloods aren't perfect now at all but they are much better than before. MUCH better. I lost countless hours of sleep at night trying to adjust my basal and as a result this affected my studies, my mood, and my social relationships with family members, relatives, and friends. What I found helpful is to set few goals, small goal at a time, and focusing all my energy and effort to what truly matters. For me, music is the gift from heaven that kept me going. No matter how hard I am pulled down, music healed me and pushed me to fight. I wake up early, around 5:30-6:30 when everyone is still asleep and enjoy the silent environment. I enjoy preparing my breakfast while motivating myself by planning what a productive day I am going to have (thanks, coffee). Note that although my classes start at 11 AM, I still wake up pretty early. I (of course) listen to music, sip a hot cup of tea, and enjoy the heat from the heater in this weather. I find this to be very relaxing and peaceful. Stress levels are below the floor. I just accept that whatever bad grades I got, I still have a chance to pass my courses. I can't change them. Practice your materials, eat clean, and you will find yourself confident. You will feel 10x more confident when you solve that hard problem that haunted you. Reaching out is also helpful. Shoutout to all the members here that supported me in private. My DMs are also always open. Stay away from negativity and you can make it. Cheers to you!
     
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  7. Grant_Vicat

    Grant_Vicat Don't have diabetes · Well-Known Member

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    Hi @alphabeta I like your response and totally agree about music. I am fascinated by your avatar. To me it is a stark reminder of exactly what happened to my vision in the days of hypos. I wonder how many people on the Forum react similarly?! Good luck with your degree and future control. All the best
     
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  8. alphabeta

    alphabeta Type 1 · Well-Known Member

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    Hello! Thank you very much! I intended this avatar to reflect how managing diabetes looks like actually but yes you are right! All the best to you too!
     
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  9. desidiabulum

    desidiabulum · Well-Known Member

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    Hi &Tomm95 -- perhaps I can give a slightly different angle as a diabeticuniversity lecturer who has tutored some T1 diabetics? If you are having major health problems that are interfering with your exams (you are) most universities should be prepared to allow you to take your exams as a first attempt as summer resits -- this might give you a better chance of getting the results you need rather than soldiering on and getting bad results. If you are seriously struggling at a critical time it might also be worth considering applying for leave of absence, and coming back when you are feeling better physically and mentally.
    The key thing is to take back control - and sometimes that is best done by recognizing your problems and organizing a break under specific conditions rather than forcing yourself when body and mind are struggling. Listen to your body, take control, and keep your university department and tutors informed (or if they are proving unhelpful, talk to Student Services or the Student Union). Good luck!
     
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