College and Chronic Illnesses

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A few weeks ago….

With being out of school for a full week (Monday to Monday). I missed two weeks worth of college classes due to the fact that half of my classes take place on Mondays. I take the minimum amount of classes to be considered a full time student. When I tell people I only take four classes, they assume I have it easy then in comparison to them taking on more.

While I am sure they have their own troubles and I don’t mean to minimize anyone’s problems, but they haven’t walked in my shoes so to speak. Yeah, I take the minimum, because my life is overflowing in other aspects. I’m falling behind in my classes because of my health. I’ve been in the hospital and ER more this year than most people have in their whole lives. And this is an every year thing. I never get a break from my illnesses. Yeah, sometimes they go into remission, but I haven’t had a good solid year of remission since my 9th grade year.

I usually have one or two doctors appointments each week, and one therapy date each week. I have two classes on Monday. So I’m going to tell you what it is like for me to be a sick college student.

Monday, I wake up around 11:30am, most people wake up earlier, but then again most people probably weren’t up late the night before with pain and nausea or in the hospital. I take my anti nausea medication which helps me get a little bit down like a piece of toast but it also makes my brain foggy. Sometimes I forget words or how to finish sentences, my eyes have a hard time focusing on things due to my medication and fatigue.

I start getting ready for my 4pm classes at 3. This includes a shower, last minute studying since I can hardly remember what I ate for breakfast let alone everything from the week before.

I spend 10 minutes turning myself from a zombie to a teenage girl. I do this for myself. Because it takes so much out of me to go out and spend all evening at college, sometimes my self esteem takes blows because of my ostomy, or having to use a cane to make it through that 6 hours of college and having people stare at me so it’s nice to put on nice lipstick or do my eyebrows and instead of wondering if people are staring at me for using a cane or having my NJ tube, I think “They probably like my lipstick.” Not to mention that if I don’t wear makeup I will have people giving me looks for looking sickly and tired and having people ask me if I’m okay or if I have the flu.

My first class is pottery, a simple class for some but standing makes me dizzy and sore and that is essentially 2 hours and 30 minutes of standing and molding things in your hands. I love it because I love crafting, but there are days I dread going because I am miserable by the time it is over. I’m exhausted. It is nice though to do something hands on, while I do have to think a lot still while creating, it is very relaxing to have cool clay in between your fingers.

After pottery is over I am already tired, then I walk outside and back into the main building and to the 2nd floor for English which is 2 hours and 45 minutes of lecture hall followed by an essay topic to turn in for next week. This class is mostly just exhausting because we do not actually discuss what we are learning, typically the teacher goes on off topic rants for the entire time so it’s frustrating when I’m struggling in classes to keep up and learn the material and then for the teacher to not really teach.

Then I go home and check my assignments in my online computer class which usually include two projects in a Microsoft Office program and two quizzes based on those projects and lessons.

I wash my face, attempt to eat something again because I will start to feel sick if I do not try to eat after all day, and then lay down and try to recharge. Some nights I will lay in the tub for an hour soaking my body til I feel like I am not aching as much, then I go lay down and hope I am not up until 3am with nausea and pain.

Tuesday goes about the same except I only have sociology so it is a lot more note taking and really trying to focus, which can be difficult depending on variables such as sleep, whether or not I’ve managed to keep food down or medicine down, or if I am having any side effects from the medication. Luckily now with my NJ tube back, it’s not as bad since I have a bit of energy but overall still a struggle.

Every sociology class starts with an exam on the last two chapters which we covered the week before, which I study an hour before class because I would not remember it if I had studied it the week before. It’s been working so far cause I’ve gotten all 100% on my exams (woo!). Then we get a short break and then note taking and discussion for the next two chapters, and then an assignment for the next week.

The point is, for the average person 4 classes seems easy, but when you have health that is less predictable than the weather, it makes things a bit hard. For example, I started writing this post almost a month ago, and am just now getting around to finishing it.

This is just how my life is anymore and I’ve accepted and adjusted but it doesn’t make it any less easier when people ask me, “That’s all you took this semester? That’s easy.” I know though that they don’t get it because they don’t have everything I go through.

For those of you with illnesses and in college: pace yourself, take it “easy”, don’t let the stress make you sick, keep in touch with doctors if you go out of town for college, talk to your disabilities office for arrangements that can help.

For those with illnesses that aren’t in college: You know your limits, you are doing just fine, don’t let people put you down because your wellbeing and health is more important.

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Headed to college

We are spoonie strong!

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4 thoughts on “College and Chronic Illnesses

  1. Wow! You’re right, people really don’t understand. And they are way to quick to judge. I think your really cute (with and without makeup) and have a really fun spunky personality. You’ll go far in life! Hope you feel better. 😊

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  2. You’re a very lively person by the fact that you put so much initiative to your education. I have gastritis and have ADHD, so I only take 2 classes due to my ADHD and my lack of concentration skills. I admire your persistence and your courage on taking 4 classes. I also loved reading your story. You will one day achieve greatness. (cyber hug)

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