T1 and Uni Life Survival Guide
I have a lot of different roles, one of them is a uni student. I've been at the uni thing for 4 years now (which is a little mind blowing when I think about it) so it's fair to say I have a decent idea on how it goes. Having had t1 for the duration of my uni degree I've accumulated my fair share of tips and tricks.
It's certainly not easy managing a chronic condition and an intense uni degree. My degree isn't just lectures and readings, it's also placements. Many placements. Placements that don't end when the work day does. Placements and lectures and tutorials and big assignments. Add in 3 jobs, voluntary work and a hobby for good measure and it gets a little crazy sometimes! But it's possible to handle if you keep these in mind:
1) Eat. Seriously. If you're inclined to power on through the day and forget about lunch, that's a recipe for a hypo. I know these things. I forget to eat a lot. I went well over 6 hours without eating once when I was working on a group assignment. Guess who ended up laying down on the library floor hypo laughing at 5pm? This idiot. Just eat, you'll feel better.
2) Sleep. No one likes you when you're brain dead level tired. I was looking over some photos from the past few years and I look exhausted the majority of the time. You'll do better in exams, be able to take on the day better and feel a little more human if you try and establish a good sleep routine. Disagree? I hardly slept on my regional placement and ended up with obscenely high blood sugars and precious little sanity.
3) If you drink, eat. Over the last 4 years my very tragically low alcohol tolerance has increased, mostly from $4 Aldi wine and Sangria jugs at Mexican places. But as I started drinking more, I learnt that I go really low about 5 or 6 hours post drinks. So eat when you drink, set basal rates if you need to and make sure someone knows you're t1. No horror stories on this front for me thankfully. Be careful out there.
4) Use your special provisions/disability services. You're entitled to food in exams. You're entitled to extra time for sugar testing, lows and highs. You're entitled to separate supervision so you can eat and make noise without worrying about everyone else. You're entitled to assignment extensions. Use them. It doesn't make you weak, it's there to make you equal to everyone else.
5) Last but certainly not least, look after yourself. You matter. You can't do your degree, you can't be good at your job, you can't be completely there for your friends and family if you don't look after yourself. I've not been good at this, and I paid for it big time when it caused me to fail a placement. My a1c (3 month average sugar) has gone up over the past 4 years. My health both physical and emotional has gone down. I have put my family and close friends through a lot of worry and general concern because I didn't do this. But not only that, taking into account a series of significant life events over the last 4 years, I've felt crappy a lot of the time. I'm not entirely sure how I managed to pass everything in the first 3 years of the course. I can't even remember the first 2 years! Uni is great in a lot of ways, and you want to be there for that. Be present. Be nice to yourself. Let other people be nice to you instead of palming them off.
Most importantly, enjoy your time at uni! As anyone who knew me pre-uni can attest I was absolutely terrified of going. I thought I'd never make friends, I could never keep up with the work and I had precious little chance of getting through it. A few years later I have met incredible people that I have a feeling will stick around for a very long time. I've done things I could never have predicted or planned.
Cue the "I told you so" from my entire family. Sorry guys.
But the best bit? By this time next year (all going well) I'll be a speech pathologist.
A speech pathologist who has a passion for their work and the best support network around. Oh, and Type 1 Diabetes.