Articles, Blog

How to Survive Student Life with a Chronic Illness (Pt. 1)

February 16, 2020

Hello Lovely humans! Welcome to today’s video.
If you’re new here my name is Meredith and this is my channel about living life with
and beyond a chronic illness. [echoes- st. nothing] So today’s video I’m going to talk about student
life with a chronic illness. For those of you who don’t know my chronic illness is called
Dysautonomia or autonomic dysfunction. Specifically I have POTS which stands for Postural orthostatic
tachycardia syndrome and neuro-cardiogenic syncope. I was diagnosed with these disorders
at the age of 19 and I started feeling the symptoms of this illness about a month after
i started college. So for that reason this video is mostly going to be discussing college
with a chronic illness. But, if you are someone who is in middle school or high school and
has dysautonomia I highly recommend this book which is…which is called POTS umm together
we stand riding the waves of dyasutonomia. There is and entire section here about chronic
illness and school. So I will link this in the description below for anyone who might find some value
in that. So without further ado let’s jump right into it. [bell transition] So my first tip for people with chronic illnesses
who are looking into college is to accept the fact that it may take more than 4 years
to complete a degree. And that is a really hard thing to hear especially in this day
and age where college is super expensive and student debt is a HUGE problem, but if you
are really serious about getting a degree and you have a chronic illness this is a reality
you definitely need to consider before applying to school. My second tip for people with chronic illnesses who are applying
to college is if you plan on going far away for college, research the doctors in that
area. Are there autonomic specialists or if you have a different chronic illness are there
specialists for that chronic illness in the area you want to go and get your degree. Tip
number three is find a handicap accessible school. Even if your chronic illness is fairly
well managed and you can walk and you don’t need a wheelchair. If there is ANY chance
that you may have to use a wheelchair at some point because of your illness or you may have
trouble with hills or anything like that, stairs just go to a school that’s handicap
accessible. Take it from me who was someone who went into college completely able-bodied
and then ended up being in a wheelchair that navigating a campus that isn’t handicap accessible
when you are in a wheelchair is NO FUN! And that is putting it extremely lightly. if you’d
like me to go into detail about, in the comments below let me know. *chuckles* okay…next
topic! So you got into a school and you’re going
to be studying your passion. Well first off, congratulations because having a chronic illness
and deciding to go to college is a really big decision and you made it into college,
you made it this far and that is an accomplishment in itself. Next step, is to get your accommodations and
get them EARLY. I cannot stress this enough! Getting your accommodations and getting them
early before you even step onto campus or as soon as you step on campus is one of the
most crucial parts having a chronic illness and being in college and having success in
that. So you’re going to want to contact the disability services at your college. you want
to get those accommodations, whatever they may be. And if you don’t know, if you’ve never
had accommodations and you’re not really sure what kinds of accommodations you need or which
ones you may qualify for, I am going to leave the link to something that Dysautonomia support
network put together and it’s a spreadsheet. Basically, um it has different sections for
kind of accommodations like living situation and your situation in the classrooms and stuff
like that and then across the top it says things like “experiences this symptom and
this symptom”. If you have this symptom you should have this accommodation. So I will
leave that below for people with Dysauotnomia but I’m sure somewhere out there for every
kind of chronic illness there is some sort of resource as to what kind accommodations
are recommended for different diasablilities and chronic illness. So I would definitely
do a little search on the web for something like that. [bell transition] Once you have your accommodations all set
the next step is picking your classes. And one tip I have for picking your classes when
you have a chronic illness is to schedule your classes for times that are your good
time of day. I know for me that I function better later in the day to nighttime as opposed
to the morning when I feel most symptomatic. So don’t schedule an 8am lab if you’re most
symptomatic in the morning. It’s just not going to be successful and you’re not going
to want to go to that class if you’re always feeling crummy at that time. Schedule it for
the time of day that you always feel your best. [bell transition] So when it comes to dining halls and food
in college I really lucked out because I went to the school with the number one dining in
the country according to the Princeton review. So they were super great and accommodating
for a lot of different dietary restrictions and allergies but for people who aren’t in
that situation I just wanted to pass on a piece of knowledge that someone passed onto me when
I was having a lot of dietary restrictions, aka the low fodmap diet and I was basically
told that when you have a chronic illness or severe allergies a dining hall can make
you a special order meal for you and your dietary restrictions. So you can figure out
something with your disability services for the dining hall to everyday make you a meal
that fits your dietary restrictions or allergies if that’s something that you are concerned about.
And for those of you who do have some dietary restrictions, I would definitely take this into
considering when going to tour schools. [bell transition] If you liked this video please give it a thumbs
up. Also this video going to contain another section about dorm life with disability and
living with a roommate with a chronic illness but the video ended up being rather long so
I’ve decided to dedicate whole ‘nother video to that. So if you’re interested in that part
of school life with a chronic illness definitely hit that little red subscribe button so you
don’t miss out on that. I make new videos every Friday, I’ll see you next week, Bye! [echoes st.nothing]


  • Reply Jenna Kathleen August 12, 2017 at 4:53 pm

    I'm visually impaired and right now my plans are on hold right now because of POTS… The community college where I am has a lot of hills and there are 2 elevators on campus… I would love to tell you more…

  • Reply Chronically Carly November 14, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    I'm watching this as I'm trying to make the very hard decision of whether or not to take a semester off or to try and push through the next semester.

    My health has deteriorated since the beginning of the year, I'm dealing with ableist professors, and where I live is making my symptoms worse. College has always been my plan, and I love my school, but I don't know how I can do it…

  • Reply Alaine January 1, 2018 at 1:53 am

    Hey I first of all want to say that I absolutely love your videos and the information/experiences that you provide. They have been really helpful as I am a 17 year old on a path to trying to find a diagnosis of possible eds and all of the other things that come along with it. I tried the link for the spreadsheet that has the list of accommodations that one should talk to their collage about and unfortunately it didn't work. Could you please repost the link? 
    Thank you so much and have a good day!

  • Reply Dysfunctioning Just Fine January 4, 2018 at 1:01 am

    Hey Everyone! It was brought to my attention that link for the Dysautonomia Support Network Accommodation Resource didn't work. So let's try again!

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