Handling My Diabetes in the Classroom

Posted by shannon on Thu, 11/08/2012 - 13:13 in

rowan-universityShannon Smith is a sophomore in college. Diagnosed at age 10, Shannon grew up taking an active and relatively independent role in her diabetes care; however, heading to college presented some new questions and challenges for her.

Simple, right? Not so much.Having to manage diabetes in the classroom has always been inevitable for me, but I have found that in college, it is a bit different. Like in high school when I had a 504 plan, in college I have an accommodation letter, which I am responsible for giving to each professor. This letter explains about my diabetes and special circumstances.

The problem is, you never know what kind of professors you’re going to have and how they will handle you informing them that you have a medical condition requiring special attention from time to time. It is one of the most frustrating things about the academic aspect of college with diabetes. How do you get a professor, who might not even want to bother to know your name, to understand that you have special circumstances?

It’s hard explaining to a professor that if you have a low blood sugar in the morning before you head to class. Unfortunately, it is an ongoing problem each semester when you have new classes and professors. This semester I’ve found it difficult with a professor who is planning a field trip. Field trips are something students are supposed to look forward to, but are something I have found to be an obstacle. The professor wants the trip to be a surprise, which is fine and all, but when I asked what kinds of activities we would be doing so I could pack the appropriate amount of supplies, she stared at me like I had four heads!

On the flip side, there are professors who become too involved with my diabetes. It makes me feel singled out when, at the beginning of each class, a professor asks, “How is your diabetes today?” as if he or she were asking how my grandmother is feeling. Sometimes I want to say, “My diabetes has the same feelings as I do, thank you very much!” But normally “Fine” is my answer.

I know, it sounds awful to be upset at professors who go out of their way to ask me how my blood sugars are or something along those lines, but I just want to be treated like any normal student. I want to stand out to my professors because of my intelligence and participation in class. I feel like Goldilocks, wishing not to have a professor who doesn’t care at all or one who cares too much.  It’s a challenge to find one who is “just right.”