Hi everyone! I meant to write about this topic earlier but have been absent from the online world for a bit. I know that many of you may have just started college, so in this post I’m going to outline some tips for going to college while you have Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis. Just because you have JRA/JA does not mean your college experience will be any less fruitful than anyone else’s. 🙂 For me, college was a wonderful time of growth and learning and meeting some of the best people I’ve ever met in my life. For those of you who have started college this year, congratulations, good luck to you and may you have a wonderful college year!
Living on your own in a new environment can be scary for a “healthy” person, let alone for a young adult with auto-immune arthritis! But once you get into a routine, I promise that life will get easier and you will learn how to handle the situations which may pop-up (whether they’re arthritis related or not). My discussion points all come from my personal experiences, so I hope some of you will find them helpful and realize you are NOT the only person who has had to limp to class while everyone stares :x.
Ready? Let’s begin! 🙂
Ms. Rainbow’s Tips For Going Away To College When You Have Juvenile Arthritis:
1. Visit the Disability Office
I know that “disability” is a scary word for many of us, but the Disability Office at a college campus is often a helpful resource for young adults who have to live with illness or physical challenges. Workers there are experienced with these situations and may have creative ideas for helping you out when you need assistance. When I first started college, I visited the Disability Office and informed them of my condition. They said they could provide me with note-takers if my pain got unbearable, but the truth is I never used any of their services during my years at college. I didn’t even take them up on the offer of extra time for exams simply because I realized I could write at a decent pace, even with my pain and stiffness. I did experience flare-ups and periods of extreme pain while at college, but I preferred to power through those times than to get someone involved (I know many of you feel this way too). Looking back, I probably could have experienced less pain by utilizing the available services.
It’s your decision to use these services, but know that if you are in extreme pain you need not suffer in silence! The resources are there and all you have to do is ask for help.
2. Commuting/walking to school
If you are not going to drive to school, make sure you choose housing that is as close as possible to your campus and to your classes. Consider using a bus or school shuttle to shorten your walking times. If all else fails, you may have to consider befriending that kid with the skateboard (there will always be one) and asking him for a lift. 😉
3. Walking within your school
Universities are so huge that sometimes just walking to class can be a daunting task when your joints are painful. Make sure you have enough time to walk to class so that you can rest if you get tired or your joints get aggravated along the way.
4. Support your joints
With all the extra walking you will likely be doing, your joints are going to get more usage and you may experience more pain. You may also find yourself writing and using the computer more frequently to work on assignments – which may cause greater stiffness to your fingers, wrists and elbows. Consider using joint supports and wearing your splints when your joints are painful. Take periodic breaks and stretch your limbs so they don’t get too stiff. Also, ensure that you wear comfortable footwear if you know you have a lot of walking ahead of you that day.
To be honest with you, my college days were spent studying and hanging out with my friends and I definitely did not get enough sleep during the week. I would make up for my late hours by sleeping late during the weekends. College is an exciting time and I encourage you to make the most of your opportunities, but make sure you also listen to your body and don’t over-do it. If you need to rest, then rest. You will know your body and your limits best.
So thus concludes the first part of this discussion on college with arthritis. Look out for the second installment, coming soon. 😉 Until then, keep safe and well everyone!
All the best,
Readers, if you have any questions, comments or suggestions, feel free to leave them in the comments section so that we can all learn together. Thanks!