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4 Tips on Improving Your Academics With Chronic Illness

Keeping your grades up is a task that stresses college students out all over the world. It is especially difficult when dealing with an illness on top of all of your exams and assignments. Victoria spoke with us and shared some great tips on how to make school a little bit managable despite any illness you may have.

“It is hard to say when I became sick. The chronic pain began around second grade. I would end up in the emergency room once every other year. Things got worse in high school. Five surgeries in four years. The pain increased, sun sensitivity and additional symptoms. I was about 95 pounds and 5’8’’. I was misdiagnosed and not taken seriously for years. I finally got my official diagnosis of Lupus when I was 19. I thought with that I would be out of the woods and on the road more or less to recovery, but that is not what happened. College wasn’t something my body was able to handle even though I desperately wanted to be normal. I learned quickly that determination alone could not make me accomplish my goals. I needed a better treatment plan. I made it two weeks short of a full semester in college. I had to come home due to a triple kidney infection.

I have a unique combination of chronic illnesses; Postural Orthostatic Tachycardia Syndrome, Lupus, Ulcerative Colitis, chronic kidney stones, birth defect, and Endometriosis are my main illnesses. Additionally, I am waiting to see a genetics doctor to find out if I have Ehlers- Danlos syndrome. The road to a diagnosis was frustrating

I made it two weeks short of a full semester in college. I had to come home due to a severeh triple kidney infection. I have done all my college learning from that point till now online. At the same time, going through the normal chronic illness stuff like medical testing, being admitted to the hospital three times, urgent care trips, and doctors’ visits.

In the midst of a multitude of symptoms, as well as intense pain, it can be challenging to stay motivated as a college student. Frequently people ask me, “How do you do online school with health issues?”

Stay organized

Maintaining organization makes a difference. Personally, I am a little OCD with Prednisone. Therefore, one may say I am too organized but I have had success with my system. I use a task sheet to keep track of assignments for my term, a planner for weekly goals, and a white board for daily goals. Furthermore, this is helpful with keeping track of medical stuff as well such as treatments or doctor’s appointments.

Get accommodations

My accommodations are simple. However, I have had a huge improvement in my grades. Not only do I thrive in school now but I am more motivated to do my work. Additionally, I find it less stressful. I have made the dean’s list and two honor societies.

Take breaks

It is vital to take breaks while doing anything with a chronic illness. Pushing too hard too long is a recipe for a flare. Breaks can be short. I frequently go for a walk to the kitchen to get tea or take a social media break or spend a few minutes with my cats. If my brain is fried I cannot be as productive.

Set goals

Having a clear goal boost motivation. Setting goals each semester keeps me focused.

Plan Fun Time

It is easy to slip into the rhythm of chronic illness, doctors, and school. It is easy to neglect to find time to socialize or to take care of ourselves. Personally, I cannot drive, which makes this even more challenging. My friends Skype me regularly. I also run a facebook page, I am in several chronic illness support groups, and assist in running two Bible studies thus getting some social interaction. Furthermore, I enjoy taking an hour or two at night to read and to write.”

We would like to thank Victoria for taking the time to share her story and advice with us. If you would like to learn more about Victoria, make sure you check out her Facebook profile.


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