I’m working on some recaps of the CWD Marco Island conference, but the kiddo has caught a cold and is requiring lots of snuggles and hugs these past few days.  Thankfully, Abby (the Person) has offered to guest post about her experiences managing diabetes (and the gummed compliments of ancient grandmas) while in her third year of nursing school. 

Thanks, Abby!! 

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Abby (the Person)

As I finish up my 3rd semester of nursing school, and prepare for my final few months as a student, I can’t help but reflect on what worked, what didn’t and what still remains a mystery.  Diabetes is no exception.  Nursing school is not like “regular college”, (which I can confidently say “been there done that” to) and there are a few things that really stick out to me as “DiaNursingSchoolFails” (CBC term shout out). 
We talk about diabetes in class a lot, because a large part of the hospitalized population are there either with diabetes, or because of complications (usually type 2, but that’s never mentioned in my classes).  This is where my first issue arises.  How do I tactfully explain to my teacher, who has been a nurse for umpteen years, that she is totally dead wrong on her facts?  


Teacher: “Atkins was developed for over weight people. A lot of people lost weight on it when it first came out, and most of them their diabetes went away.  Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes went away when they cut out carbs and lost a lot of weight, it’s great for that purpose.”
Me: “I’m sorry, did you say Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes just goes away when you lose weight?”
Teacher: “Yes, these people lost so much weight it made their diabetes not an issue.”
Me: Offhanded comment to the girl next to me “Well, I’m officially not paying attention in this class anymore.”

This is definitely a sticky situation, however, not an uncommon one.  My teachers are usually very accepting of me being a diabetes know-it-all.  This semester when learning about endocrine disorders, my teacher let me bring in my pump and a few random insulin pens I had and pass them around to let people get hands on experience with these commonplace devices they’ll probably never see again.  It was really fun!

Then there’s clinical.  I love going with my patients to see procedures being done.  I’ll spare you the gory details of what I get to see, but they all have one thing in common: they’re in different parts of the hospital entirely.  To a PWD, this means leaving my diabetes supplies four floors up at opposite ends of the building.  No thanks. I know it’s not the most responsible thing to do, but I’ve resorted to stashing a tube of glucose tabs in my scrubs and scurrying on my eager-student way. If only there were BGM stations at every corner like at diabetes camp.

What about those postprandial breakfast highs that I CANNOT seem to get rid of no matter what I do?  I’ve been battling this issue for almost a year now, and have yet to discover something that works 100%. As in: Exams are 8-10am. Therefore, I take most of my exams with a spacey brain, a sticky mouth, and blood glucose over 200 mg/dl. It’s amazing that I’m passing these classes.

The final issues I run into frequently are my cute-as-a-button 89 year old patients with questions like “Oh dear, how did you do that to yourself?” when they discover I have diabetes. I keep my cool, but that stigma really gets me sometimes. (If only I had known about the “case of the stupids” response…)

But on a positive note, I’ll never get sick of this one: “Sweetie, there’s no reason to be 23 and unmarried.  You’re pretty and nice (or some grandma variation of a ridiculous list of compliments).  Go find yourself a husband and make some babies!”

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My college degree didn’t require as much time and attention as Abby’s (English major here), but I do remember the delicate dance of diabetes and college a few years ago.  How do you, or your kid, deal with diabetes in the college environment?  And for another perspective “from the medical trenches,” revisit this guest post from Dr. Adam Kaye!