Studying with a Broken Pancreas

One of my biggest concerns about going back to uni this year was that my diabetes management would suffer. In some ways it feels like it has, and in some ways it feels like it hasn’t.

One of the things that made my decision to go back to uni a lot easier was the fact that I could study online. Thanks to something called the internet, I don’t have to commute to uni. After a long day at work I can literally put on my pyjamas and catch up on pre-recorded classes from the comfort of my lounge room if that’s what I feel like doing. I’m also lucky that I work consistent hours, which allows my study time to be somewhat more routine (in addition to being able to pay the bills…)

My self care has definitely taken a massive hit since late February. I haven’t been going to bed at the same time every night, and I’m sure if I were using Sleep Cycle my sleep trace would be poor. Preparing breakfast and lunches ahead of time for busy work days are a thing of the past. I’ve just spent the majority of my weekend revising for mid semester exams, and intensive moments like these leave me feeling like there’s little else to my existence. (If you haven’t already noticed, I don’t take kindly to the idea of slowing down and completing things in a steady fashion…)

One thing that hasn’t suffered, however, is my blood sugar levels. Ironically, they’re actually looking better than when I wasn’t at uni. Four years of connecting with other people with diabetes and constantly learning more about my own blood sugar levels has paid off massively at a time where I need to be thinking about my diabetes the least.

I’m taking this degree far more seriously than my first one. I’m blaming that on old age. I have newfound discipline that I never knew I had in me when it comes to my studies.

So I guess in the coming weeks I’m hoping to leverage some of that textbook-induced discipline and apply it towards my self care efforts now that I’m settled in. Because I know that I function far better when I’m looking after myself and listening to what my body needs.

Finishing my degree still feels like a long time and a lot of hard work away, and I have no idea what the end will look like for me. But I’m really glad I stopped thinking about all of the what-ifs and buts and took this giant leap of faith.

The Advice I Would Give to My Newly Diagnosed Self

I’ve lived with type 1 diabetes for eight and a half years. Depending on where you sit on that spectrum, that will either feel like a remarkable feat or nothing more than a drop in the ocean.

I can remember the isolation I felt when I was diagnosed. I can remember locking myself in my room, and burying my face in my hands when I had the umpteenth hypo of the day. Or dropping the f bomb and smashing my fists into the wall when I woke up to a BG of 20.

Those things still do occasionally happen. Only the other night, I had been rage bolusing insulin all evening and was getting extremely agitated with every swipe of my FreeStyle Libre reader. When bedtime rolled around and my BG of 14 still hadn’t budged, I swapped out my insulin and changed my site, furious that I wouldn’t make it to bed on time.

But, I’ve come a long way in those eight and a half years. The one thing that stands out to me most in my journey, is that I have never stopped learning. There are so many things that I wish I had figured out sooner. So many tricks of the trade that mean those frustrating, sweary, agitating blood sugar related things don’t happen so often anymore.

If I could go back and give some advice to my newly diagnosed self, these are some of the things I would say.

Get online, and take an interest in diabetes.

Take your diabetes gear with you every time you leave the house.

Food is fuel for your body.

Focus on eating fresh food, and meals that you’ve prepared yourself.

Commit to basal testing, and carbohydrate counting.

Eating when your blood sugar is high, will only send it higher.

Diabetes will affect you emotionally, just as much as it will physically.

Diabetes management is a marathon, and not a sprint.

You can read my advice in full in my special column for World Diabetes Day over at Diabetes Daily. I’m extremely proud of it.