By Barbara Allen, Contributing Writer
Hudson – From reading her blog, “Diabetes Goes to College,” with her reassuringly matter-of-fact and often humorous approach to diabetes, one would never guess that Hudson resident and author Molly Johannes had any concerns about leaving home to attend college. But Johannes, an English major and now a senior at UMass Amherst, remembers well how worried she was.
“I was so nervous about being on my own,” she recalled.
Diabetes has been part of her life since she was 4, when she was first diagnosed with the disease. Because she was so young, Johannes acknowledges that she never had to become “used to” diabetes.
“It’s what I know and accept about my life,” she said.
Johannes has Type 1 diabetes, which she has learned how to keep under control with a combination of insulin injections several times a day, carefully monitoring her blood sugar, maintaining a healthy diet, and exercising.
When she was younger, Johannes admits that her parents did much of the management for her.
“Growing up, my parents shouldered the responsibility,” she noted. “From counting carbohydrates to administering medicine, they did everything they could to help me.”
As she grew older, she assumed more and more of her diabetic care – giving herself her own injections and going to endocrinology appointments on her own.
But taking care of herself at home, with a mother and aunt who also have Type 1 diabetes, a father who is an emergency medical technician, and her endocrinologist nearby, would be quite different than managing her diabetes on a busy college campus an hour and a half away.
The transition from home to college was made easier when she discovered the College Diabetes Network.
“It’s a group dedicated to supporting college students with diabetes by giving them access to resources and peer support on campuses across the country,” Johannes explained. “I started to make friends my age who had diabetes and who were going through the same transition as me. I gained a lot of confidence and trust in myself and my diabetes management in my freshman year that I’m proud to maintain today.”
Helping others make that difficult transition is one of the things she hopes to do with her blog, which she writes for “ASweetLife,” an online diabetes magazine sponsored by the Diabetes Media Foundation, a nonprofit organization that promotes information, education and a sense of community for those living with diabetes.
“In the year and a half that I’ve blogged for ‘ASweetLife,’ I’ve been amazed and humbled by all the positive feedback I’ve received,” Johannes said.
She writes a new blog post about once a week, as well as features for the online publication.
“When I sit down to write a personal blog entry, I reflect on my week and the different events that occurred. Did I go somewhere exciting? Did I have a frustrating diabetes day and want to vent about it? I try to blog on a variety of subjects so I can appeal to a wider audience, but I like to keep my focus on the fact that I’m a college student living daily life with diabetes,” she explained.
“I like to think that my blog helps people directly or indirectly affected by diabetes who have concerns about themselves or a loved one who is about to enter college or start independent diabetes care,” Johannes continued. “I want to alleviate any fears or doubts people may have about transitioning from one stage in life to another.”
To read Molly Johannes’s blog, and for more information about living a healthy lifestyle with diabetes, visit http://asweetlife.org. Also check out The Diabetes Media Foundation http://diabetesmediafoundation.org and The College Diabetes Network https://collegediabetesnetwork.org.