School can be tricky for all of us, and then if you add a chronic health issue into the mix, it becomes even more difficult. I’ve been dealing with health issues for 13 full years (this fall marks the start of year 14), so I know a thing or two about being a student working with health issues in school. These apply to middle and high school, as well as college.
DO talk to your teachers at the beginning of the year if you know that you might need accommodations of some kind and/or if you think it may be an issue during the school year. I give them the short version (“Hi, I’m Kate – just wanted to let you know that I have RA and fibromyalgia) along with a quick explanation of what might be needed (“Sometimes I need to sit on the floor or stand if I’m in back pain”).
DON’T give them too much information at once. Honestly, they generally don’t need to know every little detail. However, this is entirely up to you, especially since every person and medical case is different.
DO become fully aware of the absence policy of your professor or school. If you think you may need to exceed it, be sure to talk to your school or professor. For example, many college professors I know had a three-absence policy. I generally needed more than that, but it usually wasn’t by more than one or two classes. I always talked to them to make them aware of the possibility ahead of time.
DO talk to your doctor and ask for a letter from them explaining that you need accommodations of some kind, which includes absences.
DO become fully aware of your rights. According to law, you are allowed accommodations.
DON’T just assume people will give you those accommodations. When I was in high school, I had surgery multiple times on my ankle, and each time I was told that I would be allowed to leave class 5 minutes early to make it to my next one. But I wasn’t aware that this was a part of my 504 plan, and it was illegal for teachers not to let me go. One teacher saw how fast I was on crutches and told me that I didn’t need to leave early. I didn’t know that this was illegal and I was allowed by law to go. If you know that you have an accommodation, make sure to check that you are given this accommodation. If you are a parent and your child has accommodations, make sure that they know about them and know that they are allowed by law to have those accommodations.
DO look into some pain management research (if that’s your concern), especially into ways to reduce stress. Stress contributes to chronic pain. In fact, in many cases, it can trigger higher pain systems, so look into ways to reduce your stress. On that note …
DON’T push yourself too much. Your education is important, but your health is more important.
What are some ways that you help maintain your health issues as a student?
ALSO, I’m super psyched to be introducing you to the newest blogger on the block who is starting off with a bang – Olya from The Siberian American!