Hey Guys! So as I am currently in the middle of sitting exams and studying for them (oh the joys of College life), I decided today I’m going to talk about how I deal with my diabetes during exams with the stress of it all.
Ok so first things first, exams…. They are a wreck in the head for everybody and can put your body under serious stress, and let’s not forget those endless nights filled with the joys of late night cramming and energy drinks (you know what I’m talking about, we’ve all been there). Now try remembering about your BG checks and all the other thing Diabetics have to do only a daily basis on top of all that, it can be a nightmare! However after sitting two major state exams, 4 sets (currently in my 5th at the moment) of college exams and so many different other exams, I’ve learned a few things that help me and take the stress off. There are two phases to this: preparation and on the Day.
Preparation: or as I like to put it Be Extra Set To Start
- BG levels =Blood Glucose levels :
Coming up to the exams it’s so important to try get your blood sugars on track! I got a CGM (Continuous Glucose Monitor… which I will put a picture of below) on my new Medtronic pump (also look below) last November and it has been a heaven sent for me. During my exam I can look down at my hip and see what my bloods are and if I need to eat a banana or sip some Lucozade.
Unfortunately I know many don’t have a CGM so my advice:
- Figure out roughly how long and when your exams are.
- AT LEAST Three months before start to try get your bloods good and at a stable level around those times. So if you know your exam is two hours between 1-3pm, make sure your body is used to eating around those times and not during. ROUTINE IS KEY!
- The last thing you want is to have a bad low during an exam and have to stay behind and finish it. Or just as bad getting a blinding headache and blurry vision because your bloods have gone high!
- Just because you should get into routine doesn’t mean give up exercising! In fact during exams I always make sure to go swimming! Apart from being a bit of a water baby, I find swimming helps me deal with the stress of it all and doesn’t have as big of an effect on my bloods as let’s say a gym workout would.
- Eat the right foods!
Coming up to your exams try to be as healthy as you can, make sure to eat enough food even when you’re nervous as it effects your BG if you don’t. Also eating heathy will help overall with getting your body prepared with enough of the right kind of nutrition before the exams. Fuel That Noggin!
- Sets & Medication.
Make sure before the exam, if you’ve a pump that you have battery and sufficient insulin. CGM, that there’s enough battery. If you’re on injections make sure you’ve enough needles, etc. Also have spares! So before the day of the exam, even the night before, I always had a separate little bag with all my spare meds, Lucozade and a snack left outside the Exam room (because you’re not allowed bring in most of your meds).
- Talk to your Principal of head Office.
It is sooooooo important that the officials know that you are Diabetic in case something happens during an exam. ALSO make sure you know what you are entitled to! For my Leaving Cert. (Genuinely can’t remember if I got this for my Junior Cert.) I was allowed (I think, not 100% on exact numbers) 30 minutes per hour of the exam extra in case I needed to step out and do my bloods. No I DID NOT get extra time, but if I stepped out to go to the bathroom or do my bloods it would be recorded and at the end of the exam I would be allowed stay for whatever amount of time I had taken. It’s a similar process for my college exams as well. But if you don’t communicate with Head Office or your Principal they can never put these things in place. (These were my experiences in Ireland, I am not 100% aware of exact time allowance)
This might seem a bit obvious but your brain won’t work as well if you don’t get enough sleep! Also I have found when I don’t get enough sleep it will affect my bloods a bit too!
So 8 hours sleep people!
ON THE DAY
- Have your checklist! So for myself my checklist is (and I say this every day before I leave my house): Lucozade, Blood Machine, Phone, Emergency Kit, Emergency Blood machine.
- Relax: I know it’s hard but the more you stress, the crazier your bloods are going to get, If I’m very tense I usually chew gum and jump up and down while taking in big breaths…. It’s a bit out there but so am I 😀
- BG: Check them two hours before the exam so you can get everything set in case you’ve to correct.
- Check them again! : five minutes before you go in check them again just to make sure you’re on track (which you will be because of all your Prep 😉 )
- Make yourself know: Go up to your supervisor or teacher and just make sure they know you’re Diabetic and that you may need to leave at any point during the exam to check your bloods.
- Don’t be Afraid: If something happens during the exam and you have to leave speak up (well don’t actually talk your peers may not be happy), well wave your hand like mad! It’s your health you know what needs to be done, you know how you feel so go with your gut!
I’ve had an instance with a teacher whereby I was bursting to go to the bathroom because I had drank a tonne of water because my bloods were high and he wouldn’t let me leave. In hind sight I was a little cheeky to him but I made my point. Basically I’m not saying be rude to a teacher or supervisor but make sure that you are heard.
Majority of people don’t understand what it’s like to have Diabetes. Even if they know someone who does or have read about it, they still will never fully understand, and that’s OK! However as Diabetics it is both myself and your responsibility to help them understand and also in exam circumstance make sure we don’t get penalized because of it! Don’t be afraid saying you’re diabetic its part of who you are, and take pride in yourself.
So I hope these help I know suuuuper long but I couldn’t find a way to cut it down!
As always if you’ve ANY Questions just pop me a message either via the comment tab or by my email account.
(That’s a CGM on the left hand side of the picture with the new medtronic pump on the right)
Thanks for reading
Aoife a.k.a Tubes x