Is College Bad For Your Health Or Is Your Health Bad For College?

Is College Bad For Your Health Or Is Your Health Bad For College?

Overcoming the daily struggle of fighting a weak immune system.

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Having a strong immune system in college is about as rare as receiving an 'A' on a test you didn't study for. Washing your hands and taking Emergen-C tablets can definitely help, but sadly that is not all it takes to fight the germs of a university. Eating right and getting enough sleep are key factors to living a healthy lifestyle but in college that turns into more wishful thinking than realistic goals. Although, none of the above are impossible, even if you're like me and need a couple extra tasks to keep the body functioning properly.

I have been living with Crohn's disease for 6 years. When I sat down with my doctor before going into freshman year, she handed me a paper with accommodations for somebody with my type of autoimmune disease. I politely declined all of the special privileges and decided to live the life of a normal college student and discover my own accommodations. After being in college for a year and a half, I have had more than enough quick trips to med-express. Don't worry, I survived the dorm lifestyle and created some helpful lifestyle tips that I'm sure my doctor would be happy to hear about... maybe.

Having an autoimmune disease is a daily struggle, especially when it is one that solely affects your small and large intestine as well as your colon. If I eat the wrong thing it can cause some serious issues and uncomfortable pain. When living in a dorm I tended to stick to basic snacks. I had boxes of fig bars, jars of peanut butter, and ALWAYS kept Ritz crackers for me and my roommates whenever somebody got sick. When I ate at the dining halls, I tried my hardest to stick to the healthy salad and vegetable choices, but I occasionally wound up the Italian station (sorry, Doc.)

When winter rolls around, it seems as if everybody on campus begins to get the same sickness. A bad cough, high fever, and the sweats and shakes. I had bronchitis roughly four times my freshman year. Because of my weak immune system, a simple cold would turn into an infection within days. I decided to go full mom mode and created a cleaning checklist for myself. A weekly dusting of the furniture in our room, disinfecting our doorknobs every night, and drinking hot lemon water with honey saved my poor body from the harsh environment I lived in.

I tend to take a nap... every day. My sleep schedule is still the main thing I need to fix. Procrastination or studying late is not the reason for me going to sleep at one in the morning, but I am 100% the girl that says, "Just one more episode." Acclimating to a sleep schedule in college is a tough goal to achieve, but it is not as far fetched as it seems it just takes practice.

There are days when I wish I could binge on the late-night pizza with my roommates after we come home from a party or even be able to drink coffee on days when I can't seem to wake up. I struggle every day trying to discover things to make my experience easier, but there are good and bad days. I cave occasionally and break my rules, but I am still a college student, so I think I deserve the cheat days. People with a health condition including myself may need to take a couple more steps than others, but at the end of the day, It's just another thing that makes life interesting.

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Working With People Who Are Dying Teaches You So Much About How To Live

Spending time with hospice patients taught me about the art of dying.

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Death is a difficult subject.

It is addressed differently across cultures, lifestyles, and religions, and it can be difficult to find the right words to say when in the company of someone who is dying. I have spent a lot of time working with hospice patients, and I bore witness to the varying degrees of memory loss and cognitive decline that accompany aging and disease.

The patients I worked with had diverse stories and interests, and although we might have had some trouble understanding each other, we found ways to communicate that transcended any typical conversation.

I especially learned a lot from patients severely affected by dementia.

They spoke in riddles, but their emotions were clearly communicated through their facial expressions and general demeanor, which told a story all on their own.

We would connect through smiles and short phrases, yes or no questions, but more often than not, their minds were in another place. Some patients would repeat the details of the same event, over and over, with varying levels of detail each time.

Others would revert to a child-like state, wondering about their parents, about school, and about family and friends they hadn't seen in a long time.

I often wondered why their minds chose to wander to a certain event or time period and leave them stranded there before the end of their life. Was an emotionally salient event reinforcing itself in their memories?

Was their subconscious trying to reconnect with people from their past? All I could do was agree and follow their lead because the last thing I wanted to do was break their pleasant memory.

I felt honored to be able to spend time with them, but I couldn't shake the feeling that I was intruding on their final moments, moments that might be better spent with family and loved ones. I didn't know them in their life, so I wondered how they benefited from my presence in their death.

However, after learning that several of the patients I visited didn't have anyone to come to see them, I began to cherish every moment spent, whether it was in laughter or in tears. Several of the patients never remembered me. Each week, I was a new person, and each week they had a different variation of the same story that they needed to tell me.

In a way, it might have made it easier to start fresh every week rather than to grow attached to a person they would soon leave.

Usually, the stories were light-hearted.

They were reliving a memory or experiencing life again as if it were the first time, but as the end draws nearer, a drastic shift in mood and demeanor is evident.

A patient who was once friendly and jolly can quickly become quiet, reflective, and despondent. I've seen patients break down and cry, not because of their current situation, but because they were mourning old ones. These times taught me a lot about how to be just what that person needs towards the end of their life.

I didn't need to understand why they were upset or what they wanted to say.

The somber tone and tired eyes let me know that what they had to say was important and worth hearing. What mattered most is that someone who cared was there to hear it.

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Poetry On Odyssey: Rain

I've always loved the rain, for how it fascinates me. A calm reminder from the sky to let things be.

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Rain

There is something about when it rains

It's as though the world goes quiet, and time remains.


A calming shower for the grass and trees.

A dance of raindrops for those who see.


I've always loved the rain, for how it fascinates me.

A calm reminder from the sky to let things be.


For even the sky has days it weeps.

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