The Diabetic Side of the MRes Course

While not completely non-academic, I felt I should reserve the academic side of the blog for discussing papers, lectures and ideas. Not my personal experiences.

Only two times in the 23 years I’ve existed on planet Earth compare to the intensity of work required during the opening 6 weeks of the Mres course at STOR-i. Completing my Statistical Project and immediately having to dive into exams amidst the initial national lockdown of 2019, and the frantic crunch working in the office till 9/10pm at during the end of my time in Denver to complete the project before I left days later.


Having online lectures till late afternoon and then requiring six to eight hours of coursework to be completed isn’t unreasonable. Collectively we were all warned this will be the most intensive part of the course. We were prepared to work day in, day out during the opening weeks…

The problem then?

As are the joys of a diabetic, I can only work while my blood glucose levels are in single digits. If memory serves, I have always been a night owl by nature, at least for my university career. My best, coherent, working times are a couple of hours before dinner or before bed while sugars are low. If necessary, I would happily work all night during the fasting period between dinner and breakfast on a Friday into the Saturday morning with a small regular amount of long-lasting carbohydrates to keep me topped up. In essence, I need to time it such that it’s just long enough after a meal for my sugars to come down, but not too long before they drop too low and the cycle repeats. A difficult balance for sure, but one I’ve had all of undergrade to practice.

But a couple of hours before dinner and a couple of hours before bed don’t add up to eight hours of solid work, and any difficulties push dinner back, which pushes the pre-bed window back. Moreover, I certainly can’t pull the ol’ undergraduate special. If we still want to keep six to eight hours of sleep in, only four days into this schedule and we’ll almost be nocturnal. Not an option. So, faced with the choice between losing sleep and outright failing, the choice is clear.

Two weeks in and we’re going strong. Tired, but making friends among the cohort and loving the new topics. Soon it begins to catch up to me, and by week 3, with less sleep causing less reliable blood sugars and more difficulty following the advanced topics, I’m needing more and more time to comprehend and complete assignments. In the end, during week six where there are no lectures, I’m working with this alien system of 28-hour days desperately pushing my rhythms forward ready for morning lectures in a few days, while also completely the final couple of assignments.

In the moment, a lot of it felt necessary, and is certainly the first time in my life I’ve really felt my diabetes come into play. I’ve always believed that, within reason, I shouldn’t be given any special consideration for my long-term illness. Recognition that I will have on my person EpiPen, blood glucose monitor and sugar, and I may need time to sort myself out, but It’s part of the package as it were. These six weeks certainly felt like the limit, at least with my health as it is currently, of what I can push myself to do.

– Jordan J Hood

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