Congratulations, you were accepted at the college of your choice and you’re getting ready for the next major transition in your life. This is a highly exciting time when you’ll be embarking on new adventures, meeting new people, and learning a lot about the world and yourself. But it’s normal to feel nervous and anxious about this new environment and so much change. Doing all of this with a chronic condition such as cystic fibrosis is even more challenging, but it is by no means impossible. I know because I did it. I attended University of California with my conditions and I managed to get the best college experience while studying hard and keeping myself healthy. I’m not going to lie, it wasn’t an easy road to take. Some days I was too tired to attend my classes, and I couldn’t go to every party. But I’m sure I did the best I could. Here are some tips, based on what I learned over the years.
Get financial assistance for your medication
College is normally a time when everyone is strapped for cash, and you may be even more worried about paying for your treatment for cystic fibrosis. Not only do you have to cover your meds, there’s also the nebulizer, chest physical therapy costs, pulmonary rehabilitation, and any other treatments you need to control cystic fibrosis symptoms.
Even though it’s possible that as a student you’re covered by your parents’ health insurance, coverage may not be enough for the thousands of dollars in medications you may have to pay. There are assistance programs that can help pay like Cystic Fibrosis Foundation and more. Discuss the cost of your medication with your doctor.
Ask your college for accommodations
Colleges these days are quite well equipped to be able to assist students with different needs, much more than years ago. In the United States, the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) require that schools give students reasonable accommodations for their health needs.
Speak with your doctor about what type of accommodation would work for you and speak with the office of accommodations at your college with your requests. Jennifer Poole, a health writer, says that “this can be anything from a smaller course load, more breaks during your classes, taking tests privately or at specific prearranged times, attend your classes by video link, extensions on projects, private bathrooms, a parking spot near your class, and much much more.”
Have a care team on your campus
Even though your regular doctor will remain the same back home, you will still need to have someone near you on campus to take care of any prescription refills, daily care, and emergencies in worst case scenarios. Have an appointment with the campus medical clinic before college starts and get a referral to an area specialist on cystic fibrosis and get your records transferred to their office.
Prepare your medications
You should have at least a month’s worth of your meds with you when you go to college and bring a set of prescriptions. Terry Mcauley, an educator at State of Writing and Do An Assignment, suggests that you “make sure your room has a refrigerator for your medications that need to be kept cold and buy or rent one if needed. Keep a reference document with you always that has the names of each of your medications, the dosage of each, as well as the doctor and pharmacy which prescribed them.”
Sleep is extremely important for everyone’s health, but even more so if you have cystic fibrosis. Your body needs to be able to recover every night to fight infections in an effective way. College students are notoriously sleep deprived, so you need to be careful about falling into poor sleeping habits. Try to avoid scheduling any early morning classes and make sure to get a full eight hours of sleep each night. Do what you can to avoid pulling all nighters and stay ahead of your work – get extensions on your work if needed.
It’s easy to forget to exercise when you’re so busy but staying active is very important for your lungs and also your entire body. Do something active every day, even if it’s as simple as taking a walk around campus.
This is a new and exciting time in your life and you want to be able to enjoy it to the fullest. By preparing carefully and following these suggestions, there’s no reason why you can’t have an incredible and rewarding college experience.