Tag Archives: school

Long Time No See

Me with my short hair after I donated 10 inches to Locks of Love

Editors note: This is a post by my sister, Ana Morales.

Hey everyone, it’s been a while! My apologies for temporarily disappearing, although I’m sure my sister, the creator of this site, has been keeping you all well-informed and entertained :]. This post is mainly just an update on what’s been going on in my life, but I will start posting more regularly (once or twice a month) very soon.

Well back in May, I finished my fourth semester of college. My classes were challenging, but I learned a lot about art, myself, and quite a few other things. During the last half of the semester, I had a lot of morning lows, which interfered with my 8 am math class on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. Sometimes I’d wake up at 6am with low blood sugar, drink some juice, fall back asleep, and sleep through my alarms. The class was only 50 minutes long and it was a 10-minute walk, not to mention I needed a minimum of three or four minutes to get ready…so needless to say, I ended up missing the class a few times. Other times, I would wake up on time, but my blood sugar would be low and instead of getting ready, I’d have to eat or drink something and wait for it to kick in. It didn’t help that attendance wasn’t mandatory, I’m not a morning person, and the temperatures were often below freezing. I did work hard in the class though, and I ended up with a B. Not ideal, but still good.

I still have a lot of morning lows, and I’m not sure what change or changes have triggered this (perhaps the few pounds that I’ve lost?), but over a few weeks I have reduced my Lantus dose by 8 units and it seems to have helped. Also, just like last year, I have noticed that being home after being away at school makes it easier for me to manage my diabetes. My blood sugar levels are more stable, I snack less, and I feel better in general. I’m still working on keeping it this way during the school year as well.

Another thing I’ve noticed in the past few months is that when I’m eating, I get filled up more quickly than I used to, but I’m also hungry more frequently. Because of this, I get hungry almost every night, but I resist eating anything because it usually affects my blood sugar negatively later on.

In terms of my art, I’ve gained skills in metal work, jewelry making, figure drawing, and computer graphics. I changed the concentration of my major from painting and drawing to art education, although my primary studio courses will still be in painting and drawing. I decided to join the art education program because it’s cheaper to do it now rather than later, and also because I want to have a back up plan, in terms of financial stability, that will not keep me from being involved in art.

A pair of earrings I made in my metals class

 

Currently, I am working away on a series of paintings and drawings that will hopefully be on display in one of the art galleries at JMU next year. The theme focuses on the relationship between the human figure and emotions, with an emphasis on hand gestures. I’ll have more information about the series on my website soon.

By the middle of August I’ll be back at JMU for two weeks of RA (Resident Advisor) training before I commence my junior year of college. I decided to become an RA so that I could earn some money (gotta pay off those pesky student loans…), but also because, as a naturally introverted person, I want to kind of force myself to open up, be more assertive, get more involved, etc.  I believe these traits will also help improve my diabetes control, so that will be another benefit. Even though being in charge of a dorm scares me, I admit that I’m pretty excited about it and also proud of myself for deciding to apply and pushing myself through the interviews even though just the thought of an interview gives me anxiety.  The fact that I was accepted sure made me believe in myself a little more :P

Anyway, I have to go study for a health test (I’m taking an online summer class), but I’ll be back soon! :]

Tips for College Students with Diabetes

This is a post by Ana Morales.

A college campus can be a huge transformation after living at home, especially if you attend a large university. It is hard to anticipate the changes beforehand even if you speak to someone who is in a similar situation because everyone’s college experience is unique. However, it is helpful to keep a few things in mind when preparing to leave home and start a more independent life at college.

For the first few weeks pay extra close attention to your blood sugar levels and how you feel throughout the day. Many students tend to change their diet when they are in college, and, not only do you not want to be a victim of the “Freshman 15”, you also don’t want your blood sugars to be all over the place while you’re trying to stay sane during this high school-to-college transition. Also, in many cases you will be walking quite a bit, and this mild yet consistent form of exercise will affect your body. You may have to alter your insulin doses, including your basal rate if you’re on a pump or your injection of long-acting insulin.

Keep in mind that while you may never be too far from your dorm room, you should always be prepared for an emergency. Carry some money with you even if you have an ID card that allows you to buy food on campus. You should also always have a snack with you and some form of fast-acting sugar such as fruit juice. Know your way around the campus and memorize where the vending machines are in case your blood sugar drops and you forget or run out of food/juice. Make an effort to contact your professors before classes start or at least during the first week, and inform them of your situation so that they’ll be more understanding if you’re ever late or absent in the future due to a diabetes-related incident. You should also have a few friends who live on or near campus as well who you can easily contact in case of an emergency. A bonus is if they have a car :] Make sure your roommate knows what’s going on too!

Try not to feel too overwhelmed if your blood sugar levels are a little unpredictable at first. Just be observant and even keep a daily log if that helps you feel more in control. I thought I was stressed out in high school, but college revealed a new level of stress to me. As you probably know, stress also tends to make blood sugar a little higher. Do what you can to relieve your stress, such as taking short breaks in between homework or studying, going to sleep early, eating well, listening to music (check out The Diabetic Girl’s Playlist), or just doing something you enjoy for a little bit. Being sick while at college can also cause stress and is just unpleasant, so try your best to avoid getting sick. Wash your hands often, take vitamin C, drink lots of water, etc.

College is an ideal time for exploration and learning. Don’t let diabetes hold you back from taking full advantage of the college experience. Join a Latin dance club. Attend sports events and show off your school spirit. Listen to a different guest speaker every week. Join a debate team. Participate in a huge art project. Do what your heart desires and do it feeling good and in control of your diabetes.

Does Having Diabetes Make You Shy?

This is another post by contributing author, Ana Morales.

Have you ever taken the well-known Myers Briggs personality test? I’ve taken it a few times and it has never failed to reveal that I’m an introverted person. I’ve known this about myself even before I took the test, however, and sometimes I wonder how much having diabetes has influenced this part of me. Since I was diagnosed when I was only 3, there’s no doubt that it played a role in my development as an individual. While some people may have enjoyed the attention that came with being a diabetic, I didn’t. In elementary school I had to walk to the office every day before lunchtime to check my blood sugar level and report it to one of the staff members. If it was low they would send me to lunch early and I would have to sit with people I didn’t know, so it got to the point where if I was low, I would lie about it in order to avoid going to lunch early.

Outside of school, I was involved in extra-curricular activities such as soccer, choir, dance, and art classes. I often neglected to check my blood sugar during these times because I didn’t want people watching me or giving me that horrified look when I drew blood from my finger. Over the years I’ve met several people who can hardly stand to look at needles or blood, let alone watch me do something to myself that involved both. I became self-conscious and felt that I should prevent these people from feeling uncomfortable around me and just not prick my finger or give my shots in front of them. If there was a bathroom or otherwise secluded spot available nearby, I would retreat there to do what I had to do without any sort of audience. Sometimes this luxury was not available though, and this is where I put others before my own needs and simply waited until I was alone. Not too long ago I finally realized that this is no way to take care of myself. I still struggle with pricking my finger and giving shots in public sometimes, but not nearly as much as I used to.

Even with some of the people who were closest to me, I couldn’t seem to not be shy about my diabetes sometimes. It didn’t help that some of them treated my diabetes like it really wasn’t a big deal at all. This hurt me in a way that I don’t even know how to describe; after all, I’ve been dealing with not just this disease, but the thoughts of what could happen in the future because of it for the past 16 years. Even though it hurt me, I couldn’t bring myself to say anything to them and make them understand because I felt like I would come off as overdramatic and uptight and it would somehow taint the relationship I had with them. I truly regret not doing anything now. As a diabetic, you have to learn to stand up for yourself and not expect everyone to automatically understand what you’re going through. It took me a while to learn that.

As I’ve been writing this I realized that another thing that has prevented me from being less shy about my diabetes is the fact that I’m not as informed about it as I could be. I think that part of it is due to my sister Sysy’s diligence with learning everything she can about it. In a way I’ve taken advantage of this and never looked into the disease myself. As a result I feel that I can’t accurately explain to people what’s going on with me sometimes. While I should’ve started learning about what I have more thoroughly a long time ago, it’s never too late to start. If you’re in the same situation, take the initiative to learn all you can about diabetes because it’s a big part of your life! Reading the articles on this website is a great start :).

I definitely still don’t have perfect control, but it always helps me to think about how taking care of myself now will hopefully ensure a healthier future for me. As a shy person even outside of having diabetes, I have to be extra stern when it comes to doing things that may draw attention to myself and not let that stop me from doing what I need to do. So, what can you do if your diabetes makes you a little shy and prevents you from doing what you need to? Here’s a list to get you started:

1. Become informed! Learn about the disease that you have and share this information with your loved ones and other people in your life whenever you’re presented with the chance. Having the support of others makes dealing with diabetes SO much easier.
2. Keep your priorities straight. To put it simply, learn when you have to put your needs before others’ and when you don’t.
3. Speak up! You know your body better than anyone else. Don’t be afraid to sound a little harsh if that’s what going to make someone understand how important it is to take care of yourself. If they really love you, they won’t leave you because of it.

And remember, it’s not a bad thing to be shy, just don’t let fear take over your life! You’ll be glad you didn’t.