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4 Tips to Make Your School Year Easier If You Have Gastroparesis

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School. Before you were diagnosed with gastroparesis, I’m sure it was a really amazing thing. Lately, you are probably feeling anxious. Your school year may have started, or is going to start soon. Here are a few tips to help get you through, at any grade level! (If you are a parent, you can implement these, too!)


1. Before classes begin (if they have, it isn’t too late – just go during free periods), get a list of all of your teachers and have a conversation with them. If you prefer, you can do it one-on-one or as a meeting. If you don’t feel comfortable talking to them about it, you can have your guidance counselor talk to them on your behalf.

Try mentioning that you will miss school, but be forthcoming and honest and tell them why. Create a plan with each of your teachers that you will follow when you miss class – that way you do not fall behind.

This is especially important in high school and college, where you get credit for being there.

2. Speak to your school about taking online classes instead. I took my whole senior year as online college courses from our local community college. Because of a program the college and my high school implemented together, it was free. K-12 online public school is also a valuable resource.

Sometimes you are going to miss too much school. It happens. If you just can’t make it to class, these will be a big help in getting you to the next grade (or graduating!).

If you are in college, check out the class catalogue and try to get a good amount of online classes per year vs. on campus classes.

3. You will probably need several doctors’ as well as nurses’ notes for this, but gym is a class that is mandatory in many schools. Exercising that much is pretty much impossible for many of us with gastroparesis, but most schools (with the proper paperwork) will retract that mandatory class if needed.

4. Take breaks during class. If possible, get out of that chair and take a walk around the school (depending on age, though). This helped me a lot as sitting down on the school chairs for over an hour per class made my stomach cramps worse. I would skip off for a few minutes to get relief. It helps!

And if you need to head to the nurse’s office just to take a nap or lie down, trust me: do it. You will feel a lot better.

Finally, don’t beat yourself up about missing school. I know I did.

Curious about my school experience with gastroparesis?

I had gone through eighth grade to eleventh grade with gastroparesis, but had no idea. Because I missed school, I had doctors and psychologists telling me I hated school and I was making it up to not have to go. It was “all in my head.” I missed classes, went home early and often missed weeks in a row. But, I held on. I loved school (I love taking classes still and I enjoy learning) so I did the work at home, without help. Instead of a teacher speaking to me, I used textbooks and online videos as well as websites. I even did this for finals. As long as I got a C or greater, I was happy. It meant, with all my work, I had passed. I actually managed to score an A on a science mid-term from self-study. It is possible!

By my senior year, it took my gastroenterologist three days and two tests to diagnose me with gastroparesis (and tell me I had a bezoar in my intestines). This was a month into my senior year, and my teachers refused to let me pass classes because I was missing too much time.
So, I spent most of the next week in meetings with my guidance counselor and teachers, creating a plan. From then on, I would go in on Friday or Saturday of every week and pick up my work, and drop off last week’s work. The work I picked up was the assignment, any handouts and some class notes. The rest of my senior year (second semester) I took online classes from my community college.

My favorite memory of high school? My senior project presentation. I did my senior project at home, and had missed all of the classes (minus two). My teachers (who came to judge the presentation) did not want to come. They had told me after my presentation they were apprehensive about coming because they did not want to fail me, but thought they would have to.

Instead, they were blown away.

So remember, when classes begin to roll around once again, communication is key in having a great school year!

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Thinkstock photo via monkeybusinessimages.

Originally published: August 16, 2017
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