I am proud and thankful to say that I have finally made it through an entire semester of college. No surgeries, no major flare-ups, no hospitalizations – just a normal old semester. Or at least as normal as a girl at college with Crohn’s and an ostomy can get. I got to spend my time studying, creating new friendships, getting involved and having fun, all without my Crohn’s taking over – like it should be. I finally feel like a normal college student and I could not have done it without the help from The Intense Intestines Foundation as well as my parents. So I am writing to say thank you. I am also writing to tell you about my semester at Merrimack College, and maybe even to give a few tips along the way.
Starting this fall semester at Merrimack as a complete nervous wreck. I had taken the previous semester off on medical leave, due to a couple of surgeries and was not sure I was ready to get back to living away from the comfort of my home again. I was worried I would still be weak from surgery, or fall into another flare-up as that is how previous semesters have gone. However, I was surprised to feel that nervousness slip away after only the first week of school. Once I settled in and reunited with all of my friends who were so happy for my return, Merrimack once again, began to feel like my home away from home.
My junior year of college, which is about the time classes geared toward my major start to really take off. I enjoyed all four of my classes this semester as well as held down an after-school nannying job. I found it easier to focus on school when I was able to have my health back. However, like any other student, I found myself in stressful situations form time to time throughout the course of the semester.
During those times, I forced myself to stay on top of getting exercise and eating healthy. It was a lifesaver having an apartment on campus with a kitchen this year and to not have to rely on the options at the dining hall for all of my meals. I think that the most important thing to keep in mind, being a college student with Crohn’s, or IBD, is to not let the stress take over. Whether it is due to roommate issues, or that paper you put off, or that big exam next week, I found it important to force myself to keep calm. For me personally, I like to release stress at the gym and I think it is important for everyone to find his or her own outlet for stress during college, and especially during finals week.
College is difficult for anyone- tests, papers, drama, stress occur on the daily and throwing Crohn’s Disease or any other IBD into the mix can make for a challenging time. Most people do not realize the hidden battles we all fight to conquer something as simple as a semester of college, in which any other 20-year-old might take for granted. However I think in the end it makes us all stronger. So thank you again to all of the members of the IIF. The scholarship I received gave me that extra push to continue through another semester of college. I could not have done it without you guys. I also could not have done it without my parents who are my biggest supporters. Keep calm, manage your stress, and always remember to put your health first. While at times it might seem unachievable, it is in fact possible for IBD kids to have a normal college experience, too!
You can assist the IIF in helping other college students just like Lauren. Please consider a tax deductible contribution by clicking the link below. Thank you.