Preparing to Leave
You’ve already used the CDN Looking at Schools resources, chosen the place for you, and been accepted—congratulations! We at the College Diabetes Network have some tips from our staff and students to help make your transition to college as smooth as possible.
To help you get prepared, packed, and ready to go, we have put together a timeline so that you know exactly what you should be doing, and when you should be doing it. We’ve provided you with an abbreviated version below, and the full, printable version here.
THREE MONTHS BEFORE MOVE-IN DAY
Create a plan for your supplies. Use the guidelines below to help!
- Where will you be getting your supplies from?
- Where will diabetes supplies be sent?
- Who will be ordering them?
- Who is responsible for making sure any payments are made?
- How long will your supplies last?
- How will you know when to re-order them?
- Where will you go to restock your low supplies? How will you get there?
Don’t forget about back-up supplies. If you don’t have one already, be sure to get a backup meter from your endocrinologist before you leave for school—it’s a good idea to have another meter in case your first one breaks, gets lost, etc. Also make sure to have syringes (even if you’re on a pump), long-acting insulin, and anything else that may be helpful if your main method of care fails you.
Determine where you’ll be keeping non-refrigerated supplies. Dorm rooms are usually not very big. It’s probably a good idea to get a plastic storage bin that will keep your diabetes supplies safely together without taking up much room.
Create a communication plan
With your family. When you go off to school, you don’t want your parents constantly asking about your diabetes. In order to avoid any conflict between you and them, create a communication contract for both of you so you get the freedom you want and they get the peace of mind they need. Refer to CDN’s Family Communication Agreement document as a guide.
With your diabetes team. College brings about a lot of changes - changes in your lifestyle, blood sugars, and diabetes management – to name a few. Talk to your diabetes team before you leave and make a communication plan to use while you’re at school. Here are some questions that you and your health care team should answer together in order to create a plan:
- What is the best method of communication for both you and your provider to connect? Email? Phone? There are a lot of free iPhone apps that let you easily log and share your blood sugars with your doctor.
- How often will you check in with your provider?
- What will you do if there’s an emergency and you need to see an endocrinologist right away?
- How often will you be scheduling check-up appointments with your providers now that you’re away at school?
Reach out to your roommate over the summer
Send a text or Facebook message to your roommate over the summer and get to know each other a little bit. You can tell them about your diabetes if the time is right, but if not, it will be much easier to talk to them about it at school if you know each other beforehand. (Be sure to check out our tips on how to talk to friends and roommates about your diabetes here!)
2 MONTHS BEFORE MOVE-IN
Get your diabetes swag on
Get a Medical Alert ID. Okay, it’s true that some of us don’t like wearing our medical alert IDs, but it’s especially important to do while you’re away from your normal support system. Believe it or not, there are actually some pretty cool new medical alert ID options out there now. Here are just a few options to check out: Hope Paige Designs, Elegant Medical Alert, Lauren’s Hope, MedicAlert, and Road ID.
Bling out your other supplies. Pumps, CGMs, meters, oh my! As you know, there are tons of diabetes gadgets and gizmos to account for. In order to make these supplies more functional, or just more fashionable, check out some of the following sites for accessories: Hanky Pancreas sells scarves that hold your pumps and other accessories to make your pump a little trendier. Add some stickers to your accessories by visiting SkinIt, which sells pump skins for Medtronic Paradigm pumps, or Pump Peelz, which has stickers for OmniPod pods and the Dexcom sensor reader...or just add some fun stickers of your own! Got a continuous glucose monitor? Tallygear has tons of cases to choose from that protect your CGM while allowing you to attach it to your keychain. Never worry about losing it again!
Make sure you’ve got college in the bag(s)
Get some bags. Make sure you go to school with a couple different bags that can hold all of your belongings and your diabetes supplies – especially when you’re traveling back and forth between home. Stay organized, and stay chic! (or manly!)
Everyday Bag: Make sure you have a bag big enough to bring around with you to class, and just while you’re running errands, every day. It should fit your laptop, the books you need for class, your diabetes supplies, your wallet, cell phone – and anything else you carry around with you on a daily basis.
Professional Bag: Whether you’re starting an internship or going on an interview, you’ll need something a little snazzier to hold all your belongings in. Make sure that new briefcase or laptop bag you’re about to purchase is roomy enough for your medical supplies!
Travel Bag: Going home with your roommate for the weekend, or visiting a friend from high school at their college? Or maybe just going home to see your family? You need something that will keep your diabetes supplies safe while transporting them. You can use a toiletries bag, a cosmetics case, or purchase a bag specifically meant for medical supplies. There are a ton of companies that sell medical supply travel cases, so feel free to Google it, or check out these sites: Drugstore.com, American Diabetes Wholesale, and Amazon.com.
The Cold Bag: This goes inside your other bags. Make sure you have something that will keep your insulin cool while traveling. That could mean for a few hours during a trip to the beach on a hot day, or a week-long road trip. The Frio is a great, lightweight option and simply requires water to function.
The Going Out Bag: We know you want to travel light when you’re out with your friends on nights and weekends – but you still need to take your supplies with you! A clutch can still fit your phone, money, small meter, glucose tabs, and your CGM, while allowing you to dance. Companies like Myabetic, PumpWear Inc., Stick Me Designs, and Sugar Medical all make bags designed to carry diabetic supplies while maintaining your sense of fashion. Not interested? That’s fine! You can get cheap clutches at stores like H&M, Target, and Marshalls, or go all out and purchase a designer clutch – whatever suits your needs best. Guys – don't feel like carrying anything? Try asking a friend to carry your supplies on them, or make sure you have deep pockets!
1 MONTH BEFORE
Prepare a Sick Day Kit
(A lot of parents like to do this because it gives them peace of mind to know that you will be taken care of while you are away.)
Whether at home or at college, sick days happen. As a person with diabetes, it’s important to be prepared to take care of yourself – and your blood sugar fluctuations - when they do. Prepare a sick day kit before you leave, as getting sick can come on suddenly. Some suggestions of items to include in your sick day kit include:
- Regular Ginger ale
- Blank printed blood sugar logs
- Card with current basal rates for sick days/pump failure
- Glucagon kit
- Ketone strips/meter
- Insulin (fast-acting, Lantus)
- Normal sick supplies: thermometer, ibuprofen, Neosporin, Band-Aids, cough syrup, etc.
Create a list of contacts
- Insurance Company
- Pump company
- CGM company
- All other doctors you see
You should have all of these people, companies, and phone numbers easily accessible to you should you need to get in touch with any of them. Use CDN’s resource—Important Diabetes Contact Information—to help you gather and organize important names, addresses, and numbers. Make sure you have them in your phone and as a hard copy.
All the items we’ve been discussing for the last few months? Make sure you take them all with you! It’s a good idea to have a small lamp or flashlight near your bed so you can see what you’re doing when you wake up to check or treat a late-night low. (And so you don’t have to turn on the light and wake up your roommate!)
1 WEEK BEFORE
Contact your campus Disability/Auxiliary/Accessibility Services office. Give them a call, or shoot them an email, to let them know that you’ll be starting classes soon. Ask them what the process is to register for disability services and what you’ll need to do so.
Congratulations! You’re about to gain a whole new level of independence. Keep these tips in mind to ensure a positive move-in experience, and good luck! Have some low snacks ready. You’ll probably go low carrying boxes up hills and stairs, unpacking all of your things, and constructing shelving units—have some low supplies at the ready on move-in day.
Check your fridge
As silly as it sounds, make sure it’s plugged in. Be sure to check the temperature settings - some high settings freeze insulin! Make sure your supplies are accessible. That plastic bin is not going to be useful if you can’t get to it. Try lofting your bed so you can fit your diabetes supplies and food under there—that makes them easier to get at should you go low in the middle of the night.
Find a spot for your Glucagon
As long as you feel comfortable, have a glucagon kit readily available in case of emergencies (ie. taped to wall or bed.) It doesn’t do anyone any good if you’re the only person who knows where/what it is and how to use it. Want to teach your roommate? Check out this step by step guide on how to use Glucagon, and/or have them download the mobile app.
Find the Pharmacy
Scout out the closest pharmacy to your school and figure out the easiest way to get there. Put their information into your phone. Even if you use a mail-order pharmacy, this is a good thing to do in case of emergencies.
Go food shopping
Take a trip to the local grocery store with your parents and load up on low supplies and snacks for the room!
Remember your parents
Oh yeah, remember them? While you’re excited to move out and get started with college, keep your parents in mind throughout the process. They’re probably sad (and possibly freaking out) that you’ll be moving out of the house, so be extra nice and help ease their fears whenever you can.
Check out the Between Visits Pages
The Between Visits section of the site covers a range of topics that may be interesting to you - the newest technology and research, supplies, health insurance, drinking, etc. The Relationships page is a great resource for learning how to handle diabetes around friends, roommates, and partners.