T1D in Law School/Other professinal school/Grad School


(ajeffrey) #1

Hello friends:

I was diagnosed a little over a month now and am also going to law school this coming fall. I was wondering if anyone else has gone through a rigours academic program with T1D. Postponing school is not an option: I'm not letting this disease control anymore of my life.

There seems to be a lot of resources out there for college students but not so much for students beyond undergrad. College was a simple time for me (not to say I excelled, but had a lot of fun!) and feel like the two experiences will be dramatically different, particularly in managing the disease. I don't think skipping a class because of a low or high BG will really be an option. Not to mention that test can be up to three hours long, and from what I've read that can throw off you BG. The list of frustrations could go on and on...

There is still much for me to learn as far as T1D goes in general, but I would love some guidance in how to tackle this specifically in law school, or how it was done while in other post-graduate programs.

-Jeff


(Randy) #2

Hello Jeff,
I went through all of school, including undergraduate and graduate school with T1D. You should be at some advantage in being diagnosed at an older age. You may have a nice honeymoon period and a higher residual beta cell function as a result of your age at diagnosis. I commend you attitude that you will work to minimize the impact of T1D on your life. Go for it! But, like a good scout, be prepared. 1) I suggest that you start a continuous glucose monitor before law school starts. It provides a means of monitoring your glucose continually, so that you can preemptively manage to reduce the chance of adverse impact on schoolwork. 2) I suggest you have a regular exercise program; it helps anyone maintain good fitness, but it is particularly helpful for more easily managing T1D. An average of 30 minutes a day, 5 days per week will ensure the easiest glucose management. Treat it as important as medicine for your long-term well-being. I am most consistent with exercise when I remind myself I have no choice; it’s a life requirement. The JDRF PEAK program can be of help, particularly if you have interest in intense exercise, such as long-distance running, biking, or swimming. 3) Do your best to be consistent with adequate sleep, like 6 hours per night. By working ahead and being consistent with your workday, you will do better with diabetes management and better with schoolwork. 4) Reach out for help when you need it; let professors know what you are dealing with when T1D rears its ugly head. Some will help you with accommodations, when needed, particularly if they have experienced you as a diligent student. 5) If you have not already considered an insulin pump, it will make glucose management a bit easier. However, if you have body image concerns about a pump, you can live well without it. 6) Build your highly portable diabetes management kit, with skittles or something like it for “titrating” your glucose, to prevent more impactful hypoglycemia, a blood glucose meter (if you are not using Dexcom G6), and emergency instructions. 7) Do not be reluctant to be open about having T1D. Your close friends, your roommate(s), and academic advisor(s) should know. 8) Consider making a hobby of legal issues associated with T1D. You may find that your vocation and avocation become one in the same!

All the best!
Randy Anderson, PhD
JDRF Board Director


(Dennis J. Dacey, PwD) #3

Hi Jeff @ajeffrey, certainly you can manage through schooling even though you have diabetes; properly managed diabetes should not hinder your accomplishments. Randy @andersrl offers you really good advice and suggestions and there is very little for me to add.
Just work hard and keep your head about you. I did graduate high school, college degree with honors and graduate school in decades before glucose monitors, pumps, disposable syringes and needles or “special disability considerations”; yes, I kept an electric ‘hotpot’ to boil my glass syringe and needle every morning. Oh, college and grad work all done nights while working a full time job and raising a family.
Good luck to you!


(Kimberly) #4

Hi Jeff,

I was recently diagnosed a month ago after entering severe DKA a week before my law school graduation and during finals. I’ve had symptoms for at least a year. Things were harder as a result but at least I know now what was causing everything and am able to treat yourself. I’m currently studying for the bar so I can relate to your feeling of concern during such a stressful time as 1L. Feel free to reach out. I don’t know too much about diabetes at the moment but I can give you advice on law school. Take care!


(Thomas) #5

I know the feeling. I felt sick throughout the first semester of my 1L year in law school, even having to miss class several times (I get migraines and later learned a trigger for my migraines is extreme blood sugar fluctuation). Of course, I was stubborn, still am, and did not see a doctor; just chalked it up to various stressors that every 1L goes through. In reality, it was my pancreas sputtering, the death rattle before the main event. As a result, my grades were not good, my best was a B-. It was really an awful feeling because like almost all law students I had always been an A student; I’d never sniffed a C in my life and now I had 3 or 4.

My law school buddy, his GF, me, and my fiance then went on a ski trip over New Year’s in up-state Michigan. That is when the classic symptoms hit me. I got the nickname “Geriatric Thomas” because I had to urinate so often. I chugged hot chocolates at the top of the slope to no avail. Even with the extreme symptoms, my stubbornness just kept me brushing everything aside and enjoying the trip.

A few days after returning, my fiance and I went to her parents’ house in Cleveland. The symptoms had been getting worse, and at that point I was feeling sick and dizzy. Luckily, well for me, my fiance’s father was a T1D and tested my BS, and his meter wouldn’t read my results because I was way, way too high. Then to the hospital and the diagnosis. Had I not gone to Cleveland, though, no doubt I’d be dead. Diabetes never crossed my mind (not in my family) and I thought I had just come down with some bug.

My law school gave me the option to take the next semester off, but at that point, my grades and class ranking were shot, and I just marched on for the JD now hanging in my office. It was hard to juggle learning about my new disease, learning how to manage it, with the ups and downs, and still have to maintain focus on school.

If anybody ever asks for my advice about what to do when diagnosed (with any serious medical condition or disease, really) during law school or before, or even worse, before taking the bar exam, DO NOT do what I did. Take time off. Your law school will let you . Learn how to manage your very serious, but very manageable, disease, and return with confidence and focus. This is especially true with the bar exam. When my blood sugar is high, I have trouble focusing. That is not something you want to deal with when studying for the bar, and especially, when taking the exam. It can wait!