College life – by Helen Whitehouse


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Well, I am well and truly installed at college now, doing English Language, English Literature, Philosophy and Sociology. And I love it, even though it means getting up at 05.45, setting off at 06:55, progressing through two buses and a mile long hill to arrive – then returning home in the practical small hours of the morning (well, 18:00. But I used to be home and have had my tea and be underway with a little nap by then when I was at school).

Also, the millions of ringbinders I have acquired. Why? Because apparently I will need my own notes for this thing called “revision”, a concept I have long forgotten over the frivolous summer months. I was happy with my GCSEs, coming in at 1 A*, 6As, 2Bs and 2Cs, despite having an inconvenient hypo slapped in the middle of one… But yeah, I am happy.

Something however, that you don’t get told about in the extensive interview prospectus enrolment update paperwork stuff, is the amount of independence and maturity it takes to actually do A Levels.

So much of it is left to you, unlike GCSEs where you have textbooks, anthologies, revision guides, pushy teachers… It’s a decision you have made and therefore expected to stick with. Four and a half hours scheduled college time per subject, that time again at home for each subject per week, with Principle’s Update, General Studies and Tutorial banged in the mix for good measure. I have to admit, I do sometimes buy some mid morning Skittles to sustain myself.

It is the same with the way I now manage my condition. When you move up to adult clinic (see one of my previous blog posts), they put your time right down to about 5pm, whereas children come in at 9, 10, 11 in the morning. I had a HbA1c last month ( 6.5 wooo!) and had to take one lesson off one Monday. I thought yeah, they know I am diabetic, they will understand in the same way school did.

Well I got myself off to the little office in the attic, Student Services, to sign myself out and they practically had a fit. Can’t you go another time? How important is it? Why are you even diabetic? It was like 20 questions.

I scrawled my name and exited swiftly. It made me realise, however, that the old excuse of hypos to skip a dreaded lesson, missing a morning for clinic, just wouldn’t wash anymore. It doesn’t work in life, and I wouldn’t want it to. At first, I panicked that I wouldn’t have the safety net of my special box in reception with my emergency glucose, but ultimately it’s made me take more responsibility and become more aware of what I need to do. And I feel far more settled in and comfortable because of this.

I have found that it’s all well and good having the safety net, but it’s when you jump that you start living for yourself – and not living for diabetes.

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Hi Helen, congrats on doing such a great job. When you can do what you want to do and do it well and be more concerned with the task at hand, you are truly overcoming diabetes. Do you think the discipline you needed to control your sugar is helping you be a better student?

Hi Helen!!

First of all congratulations on such fantastic GCSE results!

Great post agin, I love reading your posts and hearing what life will be like for Ewan in a few (well 8 or so) years time!!

Good luck for your A levels and I look forward to reading your next installment!!

Jen x

good luck helen, my daughters in her second year at college and loving every minute of . she’s the same early mornings and late nights and a long journey but l dont think she minds.
it’s true about the safety net you have to get on with your life and not let diabetes run your life.
it’s tuff for us parents as well her first few months at college was a worry but after that l started to relax as she was coping fine on her own and managing her diabetes fine, so good luck helen and as they say rock the world.