RArainbow

A resource blog for young women living with Arthritis


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Arthritis and college support

Hi everyone! Some of you may recall that I recently shared a few tips about going away to college when you have Juvenile Arthritis. (Read the first part here and the second part here.) In keeping with that topic, I wanted to share a couple relevant links today.

The first site is the Youth Health Talk website, which I have mentioned previously on this site. There is a section specifically on going to school and college (click here to view), which you may find useful. There are quite a few videos of young persons with arthritis discussing their experiences on this site, so check out what they have to say. [http://www.youthhealthtalk.org/young_people_with_arthritis/Topic/4357]

I also found the following articles useful so check them out if you need more support:

-“Help Your Child With JA Get the Most Out of College “- http://www.kidsgetarthritistoo.org/living-with-ja/daily-life/school-success/choose-a-college.php
-“JA Scholarships: – http://www.arthritis.org/missouri/juvenile-arthritis/

Take care everyone!
Ms. Rainbow

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Tips For Going Away To College, JRA Edition (part two)

Hi everyone!

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
legodocBefore 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.

Elizabeth of The Girl With Arthritis gives a great personal perspective on alcohol and arthritis which you can check out here.

8. Exercise
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.

10. Diet/nutrition
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…

kermit11. 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

[Images by pixabay.com]


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Tips For Going Away To College, JRA Edition (part one)

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 schoolboot
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.

5. Sleep/rest
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,
Ms. Rainbow

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!

[Image by pixabay.com]