Today I will continue our discussion about going to college with arthritis in this second part of my post. If you missed the first part, click here.
Ms. Rainbow’s Tips For Going Away To College When You Have Juvenile Arthritis (continued):
6. Organize medical support prior to moving
Before moving, it is important that you figure out a medical support system for your time at university. Are you going to have to get a new rheumatologist? If you get infusions, where will you get them done? Where is the nearest pharmacy at your local university? Can you get your specific medications at this pharmacy? How will you pay for these services? You need to consider all these details before moving.
Speak with your home rheumatologist who may be able to recommend a clinic near your local university and help you with the transition.
7. Alcohol – be responsible
When you start college, it is very likely that you will be offered alcohol at some point. Please make sure you are legally able to drink if you do plan to consume alcohol. Also, make sure you have asked your doctor about drinking while taking medication. There has always been debate about whether it is possible to drink while on Methotrexate. Do your research beforehand.
If your doctor tells you it is safe to consume alcohol while on your specific medication, it is totally up to you whether you drink or not. At college I would have a drink every now and again when I was out with my friends, but I never went overboard. But do not feel pressured to drink if you do not want it. If you are going to drink, ensure you are among people who you can trust to take care of you should anything happen.
One of the things I loved about college was the fact that so many activities and clubs were easily accessible to me. With my arthritis joints, I did a lot of swimming, dancing and exercise classes and was constantly active. Take advantage of pool facilities, nearby beaches, dance classes, yoga classes and exercise classes. Try new activities – you never know, you might like them. 😉
9. Telling people about your arthritis
In my last post, Joan of Life with a flare left an excellent suggestion about discussing arthritis with your roommates. If you have roommates, I definitely recommend sitting down with them and explaining your condition to them (as long as you feel comfortable about it). Explain your physical limitations and assistance you may need. During my college years I was very lucky to have kind roommates who were very understanding and I hope that you do too!
I plan to discuss the topic of “disclosure” or letting people in on your autoimmune condition at a later date, but I’d like to say that talking about your arthritis is completely up to you. Some persons feel comfortable speaking about it right away (especially if they have severe pain and visible physical difficulties), some prefer to speak to close friends about it and some prefer to not mention it at all. There is no right nor wrong method here and I encourage you to move at your own pace and at your own level of comfort.
While at college, it is easy to fall into poor eating habits due to late night studying and the availability of fast-foods on campus. I know some RA patients follow special diets to reduce inflammation levels, while some prefer to simply eat more balanced and healthy meals. Whichever dietary path you have chosen, remember to treat your body kindly and make sure you are getting the right nutrition to keep your body strong.
And of course…
11. Have fun! 🙂
Starting college, moving and living independently can seem daunting when you live with autoimmune illness – but it is not impossible. You may experience flare-ups and many challenges along the way, but make a promise to yourself to be healthy, to be responsible, to take care of yourself and to take every wonderful opportunity which comes your way. This is YOUR time, so make sure you enjoy it! 🙂
Readers, feel free to leave your suggestions in the comments. Thanks and have an amazing semester everyone!! 🙂
❤ Ms. Rainbow