Skip to main content

College and Chronic Illness: Talking to your Professors

Another title for this post could be learn from my mistakes. My freshman year I did not inform my professors of my chronic illnesses until I am in the ER and could not make the deadline for two papers or to the respective classes the next day my first semester. Thankfully those professors were very understanding. You would think I would have learned but second semester I waited as well and found myself on the bathroom ground working on a final when I should have been in the ER because that professor was considerably less understanding although maybe she would have been had I mentioned something before that night. Anyway back to the topic at hand.

From my first ER trip in college, too bad it was far from my last...
First off as I mentioned in my previous post make sure you go to your campus disability office with a letter from your doctor explaining your symptoms and/or illness, what accommodations you need (my school asked if I need anything not on the list so it may have not been necessary but better to be over prepared than under), and make sure it is on official letterhead. Then they should be able to set you up with an adviser and put your accommodations into place.

Next the week before your classes start contact your professors by email. My school as an online portal for anyone registered with the office of disabilities that I can use to send a letter informing my professors of my accommodations. I can even customize the letter since I don't think my professors need to be aware my housing must have a kitchen and a private bathroom. Once they read the letter the system also sends me a notification to let me know.

Then I like to talk to my professors right after the first class. However one reason I do it so soon is I am typically connected to pumps that have a tendency to beep at the least convenient times, but I would say you should approach your professors within the first week or two of the semester. Depending on how much time you need to discuss your accommodations you may want to just do talk right after class or set up a time for you to talk during business hours.

Tips for the actual talk- first off remember you only have to share what you want to. The professors do not need to know why you have accommodations. I am a pretty open person coupled with the fact I actually have tubes coming out of me I have found it easier to give simple explanations of my medical condition but it you don't feel comfortable doing that do not feel that you have to or should. I like to point out which accommodations I am most likely to actually you (,my adviser set me up with a couple I probably will never need but said it was easier to start with them then add them later). I then reassure the professor I do my best not to use my accommodations and if I am out (one of my accommodations is to have more absences than generally allowed) I will contact a fellow classmate.

As a follow up I do try not to use my accommodations unless I absolutely have to and then I try to be as proactive and responsible as possible. I stay in constant contact with my professors, if I miss class I email them (in advance if possible), if I start to flare up a few days before an assignment is due even if I think I can make it in time I email a warning that I may need an extension. Once a few professors know you will not take advantage of your accommodations word will travel. Chances are you will encounter difficult professors once in a while but it helps when you have a department of professors or two that know you and can attest to you as a good student.

If any readers have any questions or their own tips please comment!

Comments

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Feeding Tube Awareness Week Day 1

Today is the beginning of feeding tube awareness week! A year ago if you had told me I would be feeding tube dependent in less than 6 months I would be feeding tube dependent I would say that's crazy. Anyways here I am and its not super scary like one might think.


Day 1: Talk about the reasons you, your child, or your loved one is tube fed. Raise awareness of the medical conditions that made tube feeding necessary.
I am tube fed because I have gastroparesis and dysautonomia.
Gastroparesis: Delayed stomach emptying, which means I can not tolerate normal amounts of food because it doesn't leave my stomach as fast as it should. The symptoms include feeling full, nausea, and vomiting (there are many others, these are just the ones I deal with the most). Gastroparesis is caused by nerves not firing and telling the stomach to empty. Due to gastroparesis I can only consume a few hundred calories a day so I receive most of them through my tube that goes into my small intestines instead…

Cellcept, Methotrexate, and Rituxan, Oh My!

So while it has only been 3 months since I last wrote instead of 6 months, a lot of things have happened with my health. After student teaching I refuse to be on prednisone for a little while. That didn't go so well and there was a month full of ulcers. I couldn't talk, I couldn't eat, I couldn't sleep much. I was not a happy or pleasant human being, which is all the things I hate about being on it. At this point they were running down my throat and I could not swallow. So after a month of this it was time for camp and that meant I needed to be able to talk without wanting to cry and I gave in to the steroids and have been on the highest daily dose yet ever since. Also Behcet's now seems to be the responsible disease for at least this mess.


Meanwhile my ability to swallow liquids has also struggled. Most of the time it was pretty solid but more times than I would like I cannot seem to get the coordination down and it seems to go down the wrong pipe and cause a lot …

The Swollen Wrist

This morning I woke up to a red painful swollen wrist. My right wrist was not happy or useable for the better part of the morning. Of course my mom wanted to make a rheumatologist appointment for this week but I really did not think it is worth it. Since I am now in the 2 week period before my hip surgery I can not take anything but Tylenol anyway (no voltaren or fancy cream), so there is not a whole lot that can be done. We finally settled on me going to my GP (for the 2nd time in one week as I had a pre-op appointment with him on Monday), and I took a picture so I can show my rheumy at my next appointment.

I managed to get an appointment at 11AM because my GP was in the office this Saturday. By the time of the appointment my wrist looked pretty normal, although I had the picture so he could see something was up. He had it x-rayed just to rule out any issues non rheumatology related, and as we both guessed the x-rays came out normal.

I was left with the advise to call me rheumy Monda…