I am an Undergraduate Student who has Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy and embraces the Vegan lifestyle. Reflex Sympathetic Dystrophy is a Chronic Neurological Condition that I hope and pray there will be a cure to one day. Until then I live my life to the fullest, embrassing the life the Good Lord has given me.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Living on Campus With a Chronic Pain Condition

Happy Friday!!

I hope you are all doing well. The best thing about today is that it is Friday! I had two classes this morning and didn't have to work which means I started my weekend early (yay!!). Before I go take a little nap, I wanted to write about the benefits of living on campus and how to do that with a chronic pain condition.

For many the prospective of leaving the comfort of home terrifies them. Throw in a chronic pain condition and that anxiety can go through the roof. Most people who have chronic pain also believe that they simply cant go to college. They tend to get this idea from the people around them. Keeping our minds busy actually helps distract us from the pain and keeps the areas of the brain active that can become permanently damaged from the pain if they aren't used.

Tips to Succeeding with Chronic Pain Conditions:

1) When you are on the tour of the college ask many questions. This may be about how big the campus is, about their Disability Services, how accessible things are, ect.
2) Talk to the Dean of the Field you are going into. This is important to do on the tour portion. You don't want to go to a college and then find out that the Dean isn't going to help you if you required accommodations. As a Nursing Student and someone who has RSD with a SCS implanted I know I will need accommodations when I do clinicals. Talking to the Dean, let her know this in advance. that I will not be able to lift patients due to my SCS but will be able to trade off and do something else in place of it.
3) Choose a major that YOU want to do. Many people may believe that physically or mentally you may not be able to handle a certain major. The best major to pick is what you love and what you are interested in.
4) Become familiar with the Disabilities Office Early. Having accommodations is leveling the "playing field" for us who need it. They are there to help you, so take advantage of it. The earlier you set your accommodations up (usually a couple weeks before school starts, you usually only have to do it once) the better. The school is able to get the paper work out to your Professors and set up the accommodations you need. I have accommodations and take full advantage of them, especially since my pain gets worse in the winter months.

Living On Campus:

In addition to what is above here are tips to living on campus.

1) I recommend living with a roommate. There are medical singles available at some colleges and also regular singles. I believe though that living with someone helps you become more social and helps you learn to live with someone else.
2) Get out and enjoy Campus Life! There is so much to do on campus depending on where you go to college you just have to find whats going on. If you are going to college where you don't know anyone then go and mingle at the Activities Fair, Join a Club, ect. The more you get involved the more people you will meet.
3) Stay on campus a few weekends: The last college I went to almost everyone went home on the weekends and this one people pretty much stay. Staying on campus a few weekends will help strengthen the bond between you and your new friends plus it will make you less home-sick.
4) Bring Comforts From Home: I know many of us with chronic pain have a hard time sleeping and well add a dorm bed and it makes it worse. Bringing a mattress topper, sheets and blankets where you like the touch and color will help tremendously.
5) Decorate: My room at school and room at home look nothing alike. In a dorm it may seem hard to put your own creative touches to the room when your not allowed to paint and nails and pretty much a no. I love to get peel and stick wall decorations from either the Dollar Store or Family Dollar. Each year I get different ones so my room is different every year. I also bring pictures of my family, boyfriend, friends, and dog. To make it feel like the space is mine.
6) The best thing about living on campus is that if you need to nap then you can nap. You are able to rest, do homework, pretty much anything between classes without having to drive. I love my 5-10 min walk to class each morning especially since I don't have to fight over a parking space.

If you are not able to attend college, doing puzzles, sudoku, and / or reading are great ways to keep your mind distracted from the pain of RSD, Fribro, ect. and keeping the brain active.

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