When Your Student Has Crohn’s Disease or Ulcerative Colitis



My So-Called IBD Life: Tips for Going Back to School

A young woman with ulcerative colitis explains how she prepared to return to her college campus.

author-avatarBy Brooke Bogdan

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There are ways to navigate the challenges of dorm life and daily classes when you have an IBD.
There are ways to navigate the challenges of dorm life and daily classes when you have an IBD.
Alamy

College is a time for planning for the future, and can be a stressful four years. Long classes, lots of homework, and extracurricular activities can feel overwhelming to college students. This is especially true when you’re living with a chronic condition like ulcerative colitis (UC).

I was in my junior year of college when I was diagnosed, which presented me with a whole set of challenges.

The following six things helped me juggle my school schedule while managing an IBD.

1. Find a Healthcare Team Close to Campus

It’s good to have dependable doctors that are near school so you don’t have far to go for regular checkups or emergencies. Visit your campus’s healthcare center, and introduce yourself to a few doctors and nurses there and make them aware of your condition. They might be able to help you, or they can guide you to healthcare professionals in the immediate area.

2. Talk to Your School's Disability Office

Most colleges provide disability services for students. Before going back to school my junior year, I logged onto the Otterbein University website and found their “Disability Services” page. I registered to receive accommodations that best fit my needs, found a disability coordinator, and filled out forms for things like a special dining plan, which included my IBD dietary restrictions.

Before venturing out to your campus’s disability office, I recommend doing some research on your school’s website about the services they might offer you. It helps to be prepared.

3. Find a Pharmacy That is Nearby to You

The last thing you want is to run out of a critical medication when symptoms arise. Locate a pharmacy that’s close to your dorm or apartment. Spend some time perusing the shelves to find out what brands of OTC (over-the-counter) medicine they have that might help you, and make sure that the pharmacist has all of your current insurance information, as well as any prescriptions from your doctors. Most pharmacies offer automatic prescription renewals and can notify you when a prescription is about to run out. Setting up these alerts can put your mind at ease and help you stay focused on your studies.

4. Always Carry Important Cards and Information

My license, insurance card, and ulcerative colitis medical card were (and still are) always in my wallet. It’s comforting to know that I’m always prepared if I have to make a trip to the ER or to a new physician’s office. My UC medical card came in handy whenever I had to make an emergency trip to the bathroom and there was a line. You can sign up to receive an “Urgent Medical Notice Card” from the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation.

I’d also always have emergency contacts handy and a list of medication I was taking at the time in case anything happened when I was out with classmates.

5. Inform Your Friends and Roommates About Ulcerative Colitis

My college roommate was aware of my bathroom schedule and was a heavy sleeper, so when I would get up at night it wouldn’t disturb her. She was very gracious and kind when it came to my disease.

Give your roommate pamphlets and information so they can learn about the disease, and discuss ways you can all be accommodating. If your roommate isn’t cooperative, speak with your resident assistant to get reassigned to a different dorm.

6. Talk to Your Professors When Symptoms Flare

They may understand more than you would think. I would always have my urgent medical notice card handy or a doctor’s note in case one of my professors was being difficult, which thankfully never happened. Missing a lot of class or being MIA for an exam without reason can hurt your reputation — and your grade. My professors always appreciated the heads-up.

While college is a time for setting goals for a successful future, it’s also about having fun and finding yourself. Do the best you can to continue to take care of your health while remembering to enjoy all of the experiences that college has to offer. Also keep in mind that you’re no different than any other student, you just have to prepare a little more.

Last Updated:9/20/2017
Important:The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and not Everyday Health.
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Date: 06.12.2018, 05:31 / Views: 91493