When You're The College Girl With A Chronic Condition

When You're The College Girl With A Chronic Condition

I won't allow my pain to stop me. I won't allow my condition to control my life.

College is hard. Not just the school work, the tests, the essays or research papers. Not just balancing a social life, sleep, and maintaining a good GPA. But all of it, from organizations, GPA, social issues, peer pressure, somewhat learning how to be an independent adult, finding yourself, and making important life decisions.

It's a crucial part of our lives for those of us that choose this particular path, and it's not easy. But when you happen to get a chronic health condition thrown your way on top of the usual college, or just life, stress, things gets harder.

Professors don't always want to work with you when you miss an exam for a doctor's appointment since it's the third time it has happened that semester, even if you can't help it because your specialist is only available on certain days.

It's not always easy to understand material when you miss a lecture (I don't understand how some people skip).

Club leaders aren't always sympathetic when you can't make an event because you're having an episode and can't make it out of the bed.

Not everyone is going to understand, or even try to.

Your new friends might not understand why you're just really down some days. They might not get why you can't drink with them because you're not supposed to drink with the new medicine your doctor prescribed you. They might not get why you don't always act like the rest of them.

It is okay though if they don't understand or if they aren't sympathetic. What they don't see is that because we are dealing with everything they deal with, plus a health problem that sometimes tries to take over our lives. We are some of the strongest people they will ever meet. We can handle just about anything, because we pretty much already do. We might not act like the normal college kid, but that's because we aren't.

And the most impressive thing is that regardless of everything, we don't let it stop us. We join that sorority or fraternity, become a member of that club, go to that formal or football game, and we try our very best to have an absolutely normal college experience. We schedule our surgeries around tests, we take our medicine in our bag so we can take it on the go, we try to manage the pain on our bad days, and we push through.

In the end, we know we won't ever truly get sympathy or a break from the people in this world, and we don't need it. We know there is a reason for it all, and we will come out stronger in the end.

So for those of you fighting through college, a job, or even life with a chronic disorder, disease, condition: push through. Prove that you are strong and that your health won't hold you back.

Prove that you can do it because you can.

Cover Image Credit: A.Robillard / Flickr

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Cancer, Mother Of All Diseases

Despite the pain and loss that the disease has called, it is fascinating to understand the inner workings of this disease biological to us.

This semester in college, I decided to expand my horizons and sign up for a class called "Cancer, Mother of All Diseases." Little did I know that within two class sessions, I knew that my life was going to change with the information and knowledge that I was acquiring. Everyone is affected by cancer — whether they themselves have been diagnosed, or their loved one.

Two years ago, a 21-year-old man told me, "I do not know of anyone who has been diagnosed with cancer." And by now, even he has been affected. Cancer is a process genetic to our makeup and important for the concept of evolution. There will never be a time when cancer will be eradicated as it is a process innate to us. However, the rates of cancer incidence can be reduced through preventative measures.

There are many types of cancer and this killer term cannot be summed up in a simple sentence or two or a treatment of two as this term is an umbrella for various types. These types include colon cancer, breast cancer, prostate cancer, melanoma, and so many others.

I never realized what a drastic effect this disease has had in my life until I started really examining the details. My grandmother passed away from cancer and my time with her was significantly shortened. My best friend's father passed away from cancer. My classmate passed away from cancer.

This killer disease may not be able to be stopped completely but we should take the precautions to avoid diagnosis in the first place. No one ever thinks they will hear the words, "I'm sorry, but you have cancer" however this diagnosis is quite real and happens to more people that we could fathom within the course of life.

Cancer affects everybody, especially those pursuing the medical field as one day, they will be interacting with patients who have been diagnosed and need help and support as their body turns against them. The role of the doctor when dealing with the cancer is to help the patient have a normal lifespan reducing the number of deaths that occur because of this disease.

I am very excited about the wisdom and knowledge that I am learning through this class as it is beneficial to both my future career plans as well as understanding the nature of this disease and its mechanics. There are many extra, fun classes at Arizona State University to take however three days into my semester, I already know that this class will be my favorite as the knowledge is important to understand. Despite the pain and loss that the disease has called, it is fascinating to understand the inner workings of this disease biological to us.

Cover Image Credit: Wikimedia Commons

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The Sad Silence Of Autism

A Short Story of Child Who Can't Speak

Being nonverbal can be so depressing. You have all these things you want to say but physically can't, and no one understands what you want or how you feel. It's so frustrating. Fortunately, this is not me but, unfortunately, this is the everyday life of my 5-year-old son Christian. He was diagnosed with autism at 3 years old and has yet to be able to call me mommy.

I've always been the level-headed one of the family who looked at everything realistically and searched for solutions. I always wanted to know why. But when my husband and I found out that Christian was autistic, there really was no why to find out since research leaves it a mystery. Instead, I focused on what the next steps were to help him. My husband was speechless, upset, and it was a bit surreal for him. However, I was eager to do whatever was necessary short of medication. Super-mom mode activated!

Then the reality of waiting lists set in. We had to wait to get him into therapy, but Christian's life wasn't going to stop just because he didn't have a therapist right then. So I read, I learned, and when he finally started speech therapy, he prospered. Now, fast-forward to present day where his speech therapy has been placed on pause and he's learning in occupational therapy. He's still doing well, but he just can't verbalize. We know it's in him because he's had a few words here and there, but it's stopped.

His counting has gone from sounds of numbers to random noises and skipping numbers. He gives no feedback in trying to learn new words and sounds and doesn't even participate in an alphabet game that he started. Regression at its finest. With all the eagerness and strength I had before, I found this discouraging. In fact, I try to prepare myself for the realization that he may never learn to speak. And it was this thought that drove me into such a depression that I couldn't even look at my child without wanting to cry.

What many people don't know is that when you have one child with autism, your chances of having another child with it skyrockets. How paranoid can that make a parent? Pretty damned paranoid. So much so that everything that Christian's baby brother does is being watched and calculated.

I get so worried that he won't speak either that I judge his development based on other babies his age. Truthfully, I use them as a blueprint. I know I shouldn't, but I worry that neither of my kids will have a typical life.

Out of all of Christian's challenges, I think that his inability to speak is the hardest one to live with. It's not just hard for his parents but for him as well because he's trying so hard to communicate but we just don't get it much of the time. These are the moments I have to remind myself that things take time, especially good things. And the progress he's already made is nothing short of amazing.

For more information about autism and resources, visit www.autismspeaks.org.

Cover Image Credit: Carolyn Poindexter

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