By Lauri Savage
Part 1 of a 2-part story
In the fall of 2008, we headed from Richmond to Harrisonburg, just over 2 hours in driving distance. When considering the emotional distance, it seemed much farther.
Since it had been many years since I went off to college, I truly forgot how traumatic this experience could be. I tried to prepare myself on two levels. First, as the mother of an only child to whom I am very close, I knew that part would be hard. Secondly, as the parent of a young adult with type 1 diabetes, I was very scared about managing a disease during college life.
Here is what I did initially to be ready:
- We went by the James Madison University student health center to let them know about my son’s diabetes. I found out about the rights of students with disabilities at college. We had several months of diabetes supplies ready.
- I talked to the resident advisor (RA) on our first day. I am sad to say that the level of cooperation and support you get depends on the specific RA. I wondered about training my son’s roommate to administer glucagon in an emergency. We did not get an opportunity to check that out, but I know others have had success.
The transition from parenting your child with diabetes to setting a young adult loose at college is huge.
Parents of a diabetic youth handle the transfer of responsibility in different ways. We had about 16 years of experience in our family, and we made a conscious effort to let our son assume management of his diabetes in a gradual way. I am proud to say that he had never taken a “holiday” from diabetes, tested his blood glucose frequently, and had been giving his own insulin for several years.
In preparing for my son’s life with diabetes at college, here is the smartest thing I did: I made sure to have the cell phone number of his roommate. Unfortunately, I would need that phone number much sooner than I imagined. Check back here next week for Part II of my story.
Online resources for Students with Diabetes: