The COVID-19 pandemic is changing our daily lives and routines in seemingly endless ways. Now, we all carry masks in our purses and cars, we’re trained to stand in line six feet apart and evenings “out” are often take-away meals from our favorite restaurants eaten at home.
As a mother of a person with type one diabetes, I’ve also done my share of reading about how the virus affects people with diabetes. It can be scary. Fortunately, my daughter, who recently turned 21, is healthy with no underlying conditions. She’s also very conscientious about taking care of herself and her diabetes.
All in all, I was comfortable with her returning to college which she did on August 8. Her university had opted to start classes earlier than normal with a goal of having all students finished with the first semester and home from exams by Thanksgiving. What a smart idea, I thought.
Unfortunately, things quickly went off the rails. It took less than two weeks from the time she and her three friends officially moved into their off-campus house for the positive COVID tests to start rolling in. A friend of my daughter’s began showing symptoms on a Monday and by Saturday, my daughter, her housemates and two more friends had tested positive. Thankfully, their symptoms were mild.
Out of an abundance of caution, my daughter decided to return home for her 10-day quarantine. I was glad. Getting to lay eyes on her every day, and, more importantly, being so close to her endocrinologist, were huge pluses. I was fairly sure her recovery would be smooth but if her symptoms did worsen, we were just a few miles from her diabetes care team.
In typical fashion, my daughter did her own research on the coronavirus and people with type 1 diabetes, even before she became sick. Some of what she read worried her. Having diabetes put her in a high-risk category. Once she received her positive test, she took stock of how she felt and where her numbers were trending. Aside from a sore throat, headache and a little fatigue, she’s felt OK. Her numbers have stayed steady.
Tomorrow is her final day of quarantine and in a few more days she’ll return to her house back in her college town. She’s looking forward to going back although things will be different. In the days since she came home, her college decided to go fully remote with its classes and asked all students to move out of their dorms. Campus will be eerily quiet, and she’ll miss the in-person interaction with her teachers and classmates.
My husband and I also will go back to our daily routines. With her at home, we opted to self-quarantine as well. I’ll put away the box of gloves and sanitizing wipes my neighbor dropped off at the house when she heard the news of my daughter’s positive test. What will remain is a healthy dose of caution – COVID-19 is very present in our lives and can strike at any time. To ensure we are not unknowingly contributing to further spread, all three of us will get tested to make sure we are negative.
As every family with a child with diabetes knows, every situation is different for every person. I was comfortable sending my daughter back to college earlier this summer. I still am but I think she would agree that we’re more aware and more cautious. That’s definitely a good thing.
- Laura Burrows
Parent of college junior with T1D and member of Bigfoot's communications team