Parents of college age kids with T1

I have a 14 yr. old, so this is a bit premature, but I am already afraid of sending him to college and having to manage his diabetes alone. He is quite responsible now...most of the time...but what can I do now while I have 4 yrs. ahead of me to prepare him and myself for the day when he is managing everything on his own with his diabetes, PLUS the new demands of college life and all the things that go with that...late nights, eating off hours, stressful classes, etc.
I am currently checking him at 2 am and during the day at school he is doing well all by himself. But I am mainly concerned with managing his carbs and insulin during the day so that nighttimes are predictable. He is a heavy sleeper so he doesn't feel his lows at night time. His activity level is average. Insurance will not pay for a CGM now, so we haven't had the opportunity to try one. IF we do get one some day...which one is best?
His older sister has started college and I have asked nurses questions, with him in mind for the future. Most of them say..."I rarely see diabetic students because they manage it on their own". I am just afraid for night time lows and not having a knowledgeable person close by to handle it. Thankfully, he wants to be a pre-med major so that may give him some connections. His dr. also says, whether you have diabetes or not, your blood sugar will go up overnight so he should be able to avoid lows....we've had 2 seizures in 5 yrs. with him. I'm not convinced yet that we can just sleep through the night and let it go.
Any advice from moms and dads who have been through this is very welcome.
Thank you,

I'm not a mom, Sandy,and was diagnosed at age 58 so you can take my thoughts for what they are. However, I started a Type 1 Women's Group and found it very interesting to listen to the young women who were diagnosed in childhood. The ones whose parents were very protective and maintained control over their management for them well into adolescence were the ones who rebelled when they got out on their own - as in ate poorly, didn't check their BG much, etc. The ones who had gradually increasing responsibility starting fairly young seemed to much more of an attitude of ownership of their D management. I heard that variation over and over again!

I was dx'ed @ 16 and went off to college and did ok. Mostly I stayed up until 3:00 AM partying, studying or uh, having interesting conversations w/ girlfriends. I'd still get up at 8:00, just didn't sleep that much and it sort of solved the problems. I noted then that drinking lots of hard liquor seemed to get rid of Dawn Phenomenon, although I didn't know what DP was, staying up all night was a great solution.

Dear Sandy,
I am not a mom, but i am 18 myself and have a great mom. It was hard for her letting me go, but starting at the age of 14, i started taking over more and more. Now i manage my diabetes on my own, a1c is 6.8. It wasn't a smooth process, sometimes we had fights, but i still think i can say i came out well :)
It is very important that your son starts now to learn and take over his diabetes-management. As Zoe said, many kids who were over cared crashed later and let their Diabetes go. You can start with him deciding his dose with your support, slowly decreasing your influence. only that way he will be able to care for himself at college.
if you are scared of nighttime lows, i advice the dexcom, if no cgm is available, he can set his alarm clock on 2am. thats when the bg is the lowest usually. you can still educate his roommate, what to do if he doesn't wake up. i have often set an alarm in the night, and i test and correct in half-sleep, it takes less than a minute. that way i could avoid many bad surprises in the morning.
i really hope you can start letting him go and start this new journey with your son, he has still time until college, so it's important you start now, step by step. its not easy but its worth it and very important. your son is capable of more than you would think ;)
wishing you all the best

I agree too with Zoe and Swisschocolate that independence is very important when someone goes off on their own. This may be an area where changes in the treatment of diabetes has changed a lot since 1984. 1984 was a schedule, you took your shots at this time, ate at that time and tested 4x /day to see if the plan worked. By the time I got to college (1985...), not quite a couple of years later, that had already expanded to 7 tests/ day but my numbers, like many things, were wilder and crazier, for years! I had no understanding of carb counting (although I came up with a guesstimating system approximating carb counting...treating insulin like something I'd buy at a Grateful Dead concert...) and pretty much flew by the seat of my pants. I had some adventures and passed out several times. One advantage of hanging out in the party scene was that people were passing out all the time anyway so I wasn't that far outside the "norm" with occasional mishaps.

Given what I've figured out since then, I'm certainly astonished that I've done what I've done (diabetes-wise and otherwise...) but while my parents were, and still are, very supportive, they have always had me running the show. However helpful or supervisory your parents are, that's how it sort of has to be with diabetes. Even people I'm close to don't really know the extent of the plotting tweaks, fiddling with numbers, doing things to keep them where I want them that I do. I can "log" results (not really, I use the CGM...) but the other thoughts and processes that go into this .3U here and that cut basal rate there are pretty much all in my head.

Hello Sandy...
With regret the sad, horrible truth is unless you intend to climb into the boys bed, when he is at college, married the painful truth is he will NOT need your help. He may want it, desire it occasionally. But the same way he has no need for you to dress him, no need to read to him in bed at night... in very short order, he will not require or openly welcome your insertion into his disease. I wish it were not so.

Be nice to have someone do the math, shoot me up, test me because I didn't want to that day, week, month. Partners ( a ways away granted...) will on occasion ENJOY taking tests, especially if as a guy he does something to... irritate/annoy them -wg-. Something about literal "blood letting", thats quite.... satisfying, I'm told.

However, if you do your job, he will be in charge of the wheel, you will check how he sets the sails, plots the course, and back him up on his choices, diabetic or not. He will screw up, we all do. The trick, let him hit the rocks from time to time. We learn from our mistakes. But we need to make them on occasion.

The wheel is his, now you are sharing its supervision, his handling. You cannot control... you are not in control, respectfully. None of us are. We make the best plans, our best guesses... and unfurl the sails. Let him fly his flag... neither an adult, nor a baby. Diabetes gives you a seat at his table, you are a witness, counselor... but it truth mostly a voyeur.

Do not overplay the role, or he will "batten down the hatches", and you will not know anything, you will be shut out entirely. Ever been asked about your UTI ? Your PMS? A toothache? Your burning eyes? (take your pick) If that were the sole question, the only issue someone always asked you about EVER... would you deal with them very much... unlikely!

Diabetic or not a *(@#(@*@ hard path for us all, the teenage years.... ugggh.

if you havent seen this one

To everyone who replied:
Thank you very much! Swisschocolate...your advice pretty much hit the nail on the head. Maybe because you are so close in age to my son, I think you understood it very well. I do have to begin letting go now or I will NEVER sleep when he goes away from home. We have let him stay overnight with friends and so far it's gone well. He just needs to test at 2 am like you said. That's what I do for him now so he can take over since he's used to it. I guess I'll just wake up with him for awhile and watch him do it and guide him in making corrections and gradually wean myself from even getting out of bed. Thanks again everyone!

stumbled over that, maybe it is helpful...

The Dr. is wrong with his comment "Your blood sugar will go up overnight". The opposite is true. Most healthy people wake up with lower glucose numbers in the morning - despite of dawn effects. At 3 am we have the highest sensitivity to insulin. In fact we are that sensitive that the basal insulin that kept us stable for the day is now decreasing our BG. Combine that with typical effects of physical activity like the refueling and rebuiling of muscles and the risk of lows is increasing. After very active days I have to eat some chocolate for the night to keep me balanced.

However it does not help to speculate and fear the future. Most diabetics diagnosed at a young age will be quite annoyed by overly protective parents. He will need his freedom - even to make some questionable decisions. All you can do is making sure he has all the knowledge and tools at hand to handle the situation. If the time has come drink a beer together and see how this works out. Have confidence and show him that you trust in his decisions.

Sandy, I'm hoping Andrea and her mom, both members here, will join this discussion. They can offer a lot of good advice and experience to the equation.

My 2cents is to not give up on the CGM. Exhaust the appeals process. Check out the blog "six until me" for a detailed accounting of that gal's experience (ultimately successful) getting a CGM.

Finally, I'd highly recommend you pursue a pump for him as well. I'm partial to the Omnipod 'cause that's what I have and absolutely love it. Being tubeless and wireless, it's well-suited for active young people.

With 4 years to go, I'd put the CGM and pump technology at the top of the list to work on. A CGM and Omnipod will make both his diabetes management, and the social impact of being a diabetic, much easier.

Thank you. I will keep looking into a CGM, it should hopefully go down in price by the time he is ready for college. He does have Omnipod already (going on 4 yrs.) and it's been very helpful.
From all these posts, I'm realizing that this is a PROCESS for both of us and it won't happen overnight. Thankfully, he has been very responsible with managing a lot on his own. I'm blessed that he is mature and smart for his age. With having DKA and hospitalized 2 times, as well as 2 seizures, he is fully aware of what can happen when he doesn't watch himself, whether high or low. (The first DKA was his diagnosis.)
Again, thanks to everyone who has is very nice to hear from all of you.

I graduated in May 2012 and here are some things I did to help make sure nothing bad happened to me.

I had room mates who knew what to do if I started acting weird. I ask them to check on me from time to time, and in college NO ONE has a normal sleeping schedule. They knew when I was low by the way I acted. I ALWAYS recommend diabetics to live with SOMEONE. Roommates are an extra blanket of protection when diabetes is involved because if something happens they would be found sooner rather than later.

Drinking is a big thing in college. I hopped on that band wagon and learned the hard way what it would do to your body. Thankfully alcohol never really affected my blood sugar which, to this day, I felt was weird. If he ever starts playing around with alcohol he needs to MAKE SURE he is actively monitoring his blood sugar to see what kind of effects it's having on his blood sugar. Also, not all alcohols are the same.

Stock the pantry and parts of his bedroom with low treatments. I would constantly steal my room mates Reese's Puffs Cereal and it was heavenly...I always had to buy him a new box though.

Stress is something I could never avoid unfortunately...If my blood sugar was running high from stress all I could do was drink water and take insulin and hope for the best.

The random meals never bothered me or my blood sugar unless I was which case there were vending machined everywhere!

If he has good habits now then great! Now make them even better. In 4 years he will PROBABLY have a CGM. Technology is getting better...I don't think you will have many issued with diabetes while he is in college unless HE purposely starts letting go of treatment.

Again, these are just things I did and dealt with in college. Your son, and his body are a whole new ball game. Hope this helped!

I'm not a mom, but I did graduate from college a little over a year ago, and I have the most amazing mom ever who helped me understand how crucial taking care of myself was. I would have a serious heart to heart with your son before he heads off to college so he understands how much it means to you that he leaves you w/ a sense of security knowing he KNOWS and WANTS to care for himself.

I was 15 when I was diagnosed and by the time I went to college I knew that it was going to be a challenge cooking meals for myself, picking up on highs/lows by myself, and balancing my schedule and adjusting to college life.

At night, I always checked were I was. Sure, there were nights of partying where I would pretty much pass out, but I always woke up if I dropped low. If your son is a heavy sleeper, I would ask him to set a nightly alarm.

I made sure my roommates knew what to do in the case of an unresponsive low, and how to tell if I was dropping (personality changes, confusion etc.). I am also an early riser so if 9 am rolled around and I wasn't up, they knew to come knocking on my door. (BTW roommates are crucial!! My first yr I lived alone after & that was scary!!)

I always had a very similar schedule throughout college- class, gym, study, sleep. That helped with consistent numbers and patterns. When the routine changed, I monitored more closely.

I hope he surrounds himself at school with individuals that will be able to help him & motivate him and I hope you find some peace of mind sending him off with the next 4 yrs of preparation!

You can't always be there for him, but spend the next 4yrs preparing and growing a relationship with him that assures he will be more likely to truly watch out for himself and reach out to you whenever he needs to.

I think he will be just fine during his college experience!

I don't have any kids and I haven't gone to college, but here's some advice. Your son needs to take care of his diabetes by himself. At some point you will need to completely step back. When I was 11 or 12 (I've always been a bit precocious) I made my mom do the same and now I am very independent with my diabetes. I know you must worry a lot; my mom used to stay up all night and watch me in my sleep. But she was great and let me take over anyway. Even when I went through a "crash" period when I was 14 where I barely tried, it was all me and I got myself back on track. It's empowering, knowing that you can do that.
I have an alarm set for 3:00 to wake me up for a test. I do all my shots, corrections, tests, carb counting, adjusting and call in prescriptions by myself. My mom is always there and I talk to her about diabetes sometimes, but I can make all the decisions. I'm 16 now, but diabetes wise, I believe that I am ready to move out. Your son needs to be able to know that he is ready, too. Knowing you're competent is half the battle. :)

hi olivia... i've got a son who's 15 w/ t1d... and i'm starting to question things and am developing new fears of what to do, what's to come, how, when, why,....

I see swisschocolate had the same idea as me, I am repeating her recommendation of this interview, which I remember as being very very good (although a few technical glitches)

and I'll bet her book is really good.