By Lauri Savage
Second in a 2-part Post
As I write this post, my son, Drew, has returned to James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia after his final college spring break. In about 2 months, he will be a college graduate.
I still remember when we brought him to JMU in the late summer of 2008. I am going to fast forward through my son’s upset stomach on the way to college, our leaving him in his dorm room when he was not feeling very well, and the pain of saying good-bye.
The first week of settling in was challenging for him, as it is for all college freshmen and their parents. However, it became much worse on a Sunday evening. My son accidentally mixed up his insulin doses, injecting himself with 22 units of humalog, a short-acting insulin, instead of Lantus, a 24-hour slower release insulin.
If you are following this blog, then you know that injecting that much rapid acting insulin is dangerous and scary, as it will lower blood glucose levels too fast. Luckily, my son realized his mistake and phoned us. He consumed sugar, ice cream and sweets to balance out the rapid effects of the insulin. But the insulin was too fast for him.
Ultimately, another resident advisor in his dormitory was called and came to help. We were on the phone with her, and with Drew’s roommate. Having the roommate’s cell phone number was a lifesaver, as he stayed in touch with us. It was necessary to call 911, and our son spent several hours in the hospital emergency room getting his blood sugar stabilized. Although JMU is only two hours away from our home in Richmond, it seems much further when your only child has type 1 diabetes.
While this was not the ideal way to start college life, I always try to find the silver lining. My son showed maturity and responsibility by knowing when to reach out, calling us to keep us up to date, and ultimately taking care of himself. He learned early on that he could handle an emergency living on his own.
I think that is a big part of our job as parents of children with diabetes — We must help them transition to adults in charge of their disease. And we should always be there to support them in the background, because living with diabetes is an ongoing challenge. Until we find a cure.