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8 Tips for Getting Through College With Chronic Pain

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School is already stressful enough, but with chronic pain it can be even more stressful. School is back in session and that means long hours on campus and tons of homework. I wake up in pain, take medication, it wears off and I am in pain again. This cycle repeats every day. I am tired a lot of the time because my body has to use extra energy to deal with the pain.

At school, sometimes the pain creeps in and it is hard to focus. I just want to go home and lay on the couch. Some days I wish campus had napping rooms for people with chronic pain or illnesses.

I am now in my last year of college and have been able to maintain a high grade point average. I don’t want to let my pain get in the way of getting a college education. I want other people living in pain to know that college is possible and there are ways to help you make it through. I have made a list of tips that have helped me get through college.

1. Bring medications to school. This might be obvious, but sometimes I forget to bring them and have had to leave campus to drive home and get them. I never know when bad flares will happen so it is always best to be prepared.

2. On the first day of class let your professor know about your condition. I have noticed that professors are extremely accommodating if you are upfront with them and let them know beforehand. I have had to have surgery and doctor appointments, but I make a point to talk to them in person before or after class.

3. Get extra sleep. Try going to bed earlier than normal to make sure that you get enough sleep – especially if you have a full day of classes the following day.

4. Do your assignments ahead of time and don’t procrastinate. This is something I have gotten extremely good at. I do this because I never know when I will have a bad flare and not feel like doing assignments, or can’t make it to class. It takes the stress off because I know I am caught up on my school work.

5. Get phone numbers or emails of other students. This has been extremely helpful if I missed a class. I email my classmates and ask them if I missed anything important. There have even been times when they’ve missed a class and I returned the favor.

6. Carry peppermint oil in your backpack. This can be used as a natural pain reliever when applied to the body. It helps temporarily for body aches.

7. Don’t overwork yourself. If there is a party or a friend wants to hang out, it is OK to say no. Sometimes taking personal nights are my saving grace.

8. Wear loose fitting clothes. Sometimes I kick myself for wearing jeans because if I am having a flare, it is uncomfortable to wear tight clothing. Don’t worry, you will blend in with the other college girls who wear leggings, UGG boots and a sweatshirt.

Follow this journey here.

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Originally published: August 30, 2017
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