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My Advice for a High School Senior Diagnosed With Crohn's Disease

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Senior year is supposed to be the highlight of your high school career, but if you are newly diagnosed with Crohn’s disease, it may seem overwhelming. On top of keeping up with your studies, you are now dealing with an illness for which there is no cure. You may feel a bit stressed with everything that’s happening to you.


As someone who dealt with all of this when I was your age, I’d like to offer some advice to help you get through those times when you want answers and are in need of support.

old picture of woman wearing high school graduation cap and gown

1. At the beginning of the school year, have a parent present this brochure to the principal and your teachers so they can have a better understanding of what you are dealing with in case you miss classes, are unable to hand in assignments on time or have to leave the classroom without permission.

2. Educate yourself about Crohn’s disease. Check out the Crohn’s & Colitis Foundation’s website. There you will find information ranging from locating a support group, the latest treatments and surgical options as well as other helpful links and financial assistance information for your parents.

3. On your good days, focus on your studies and turn in your work on time because on your “off” days, the only thing you’ll want to do is take something for the pain and just rest until you can get in to see your gastroenterologist.

4. Bring a list of questions to each appointment to discuss any concerns you may have about your treatment. Be sure to mention any side effects so the medication can be adjusted or stopped. If you develop a rash or have trouble breathing, get help immediately.

5. If you need ostomy surgery when other options have failed, ask to have an ileostomate visitor from the local support chapter come see you in the hospital. If your GI surgeon isn’t aware of any groups, go to the United Ostomy Association of America’s website. Click on “support groups” for a list of chapters that are near you and have your physician call to request someone to come see you.

If you feel overwhelmed due to having ostomy surgery during the school year, do not give up. Once you are at home recovering, your teachers and principal will hopefully support you in making sure you’ve met all of your credit requirements so you can graduate on time. If I can achieve a B+ average due to missing half of the school year because of my ostomy operation, then anybody can. The choice is yours. You can either take control of your situation or let it take control of you.

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Originally published: August 10, 2017
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