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Need help.. going back to college


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#1 Shyra

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Posted 14 September 2000 - 08:35 PM

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I have decided to give college another go. I'm quite scared about the whole thing as my IBS has been getting worse, but winter semester doesn't start until January. Lotronex is coming out in Canada in December I believe (?) so I'm crossing my fingers that it works! Meanwhile, I'm looking into the disability program. I remember Katz (who I haven't seen here for awhile) got disability rights through her college. What this means is that I will have classroom accomodation (such as special seating, access to overheads and notes should I miss classes, and break time during class) It also gives me special exam accomodations meaning I can write midterms and finals at my own scheduled time in a room by myself. If I get granted these special privalages I know I'll be okay and getting through school won't be so difficult. The problem is I need documentation of my disability (being IBS) including recommondations for accomodations. I guess I'm a little worried that no doctor is going to think that my IBS is serious enough to write any kind of note that grants me special privalages. Not to mention the college counsellers who might think I'm just looking for an easy way out of attending classes and writing exams when they're scheduled. Being that this isn't a visable illness such as being in a wheel chair I already feel that I'm at a disadvantage because they can't 'see' my problem. Can anybody give me advice regarding where to start with this? I want to go to the disability office prepared and I need to know that I'll be granted what I ask for BEFORE I blow all my money on registration and end up withdrawing again like I did last semester. I know I want to bring Molly's brochure and ask the counseller to take a look at this website so they know it's not all in my head. But what should I say to my doctor? They seem so clueless when it comes to IBS and don't take it near as seriously as the rest of us!! I'd really appreciate any input or advice from students, professors, anyone who's been there or has any ideas and can tell me where to start. Thank you so much [This message has been edited by shyra22f (edited 09-14-2000).]


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#2 mitchell goldstein

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Posted 14 September 2000 - 08:52 PM

giving in to ibs and letting it disable you although tempting is not in your best interests. i completed college, professional school(with post graduate training) as well as a police academy all while suffering with ibs. i had many stressful situations caused by extended and frequent bathroom visits. i don't know you or your history and pardon me if am ignorantly advising you but i would at all costs try to stay in the mainstream of life. i hope my advice although very general is feasible for you. good luck, mitchell

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 03:23 AM

shyra - your idea of getting medical documentation for disability rights is an excellent one, and surely should be tried before even considering giving up school. I would guess that a gastroenterologist who is more familiar with the specific problems of ibs would be more apt to give you the letter you need than a general practitioner. My GI doc never hesitated in writing a letter excusing me from jury duty because of this disability, but I'm not sure my primary care doc would have understood the need. Best of luck - let us know how things turn out.

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 05:23 AM

I wondered about the same thing! It really seems like IBS is a disablement. I mean what can I do when it keeps me from attending classes; we should be given some sort of understanding. The last 2 weeks, i missed several classes, a test, and a quiz, and I wont be able to make up the quiz. It really sucks, because unless I tell every teacher every semester that i have "IRRital Bowel" and embarrasingly explain the gross details, I will have to be viewed as a bad student and suffer lower grades than those who can attend every class.I don't know the first thing about getting disability rights, but keep us posted if you are successful. Goodluck!!

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Posted 17 September 2000 - 05:55 AM

Good for you Shyra --- it seems as if you have a very positive and pro-active approach to returning to college. I wish you all the luck in the world and admire your determination!roz

#6 Shyra

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Posted 19 September 2000 - 05:21 PM

Just wanted to thank you all for your support. I'm still scared because like I said; the IBS is just getting worse. I'd like to clairify that I don't feel that I'm giving into my IBS, it's the opposite. I'm trying to accomodate it, to me there's a difference. I understand what you're saying Mitchell but using a public bathroom for me isn't that easy, just the thought of it brings me panic. I just need some flexibility so that I don't feel so preasurred at school (excuse my poor spelling, lol) I feel that if I have some options it will make things a whole lot easier for me. Today I have to put in my application to register, and being a past student I'm pretty confident that I'll be accepted again. None of the colleges here offer correspondence courses, well they do, but only for paticular programs, none of which I'm interested in. I don't want to wimp out of this but the way I've been feeling the past couple of weeks makes, the thought of having to go ANYWHERE is scary. I will keep you updated though.Sir poopsalot (like the name) definately look into the disability program at your school. From what I understand your instructions need to approve the accomodations but I really don't see it as being a very big issue for them. And I know how you feel. I missed so many exams last semester I just decided to withdraw because there was absolutely no way I could catch up.Claire and Roz, thank you for your kind words.. I just hope I can do it!

#7 confetti

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Posted 19 September 2000 - 09:52 PM

I'm a college advisor and I work specifically with the disabled students. I think your original game plan in your original post sounds good. I wouldn't worry too much about your problem not being visible (as would be a wheelchair) because most of my students' situations are invisible. I would imagine most people registered with their disability office have a disability not seen by the naked eye. AND this doesn't mean that IBS will have to be a "disability" for the rest of your life...maybe you will need to just have accommodations for a time while you are getting confidence back being in school. I know for myself that stress makes my symptoms so much worse. But unfortunately I can't, and most of us can't, avoid stress our whole lives. Life is stress! It's just that when these IBS symptoms get the best of us, I think they kind of rule us for a while until we can get them under control. And who knows how long that may take! Mine are currently creating havoc in my own life!Anyway, I'm babbling but I would say talk openly with your doctor about what accommodations you are looking for and see if he will include them in your documentation and then see if your school's disability office can work withing those guidelines. Also, as much as you feel comfortable, I would be open with your instructors about what's wrong too. They may even have the problem themselves and be very sympathetic!Hope that was some help...

#8 Shyra

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Posted 19 September 2000 - 11:12 PM

Confetti, you have no idea how much your reply means to me. It definately gives me lots of encouragement coming from someone who not only HAS IBS but works in disabilities. I phoned the department this afternoon and got an appointment for Thursday. What's really good is that the lady who I'll be speaking to on Thursday I actually know. Not personally, but she also works as a tutor and she has helped me with several essays so I know that she's really nice and easy to speak to. I'd be more than willing to discuss my problem with my teachers. I'm not embarassed to talk about it. I feel much more comfortable around people when they know what is wrong with me. She said I don't need a doctor's note to bring to the appointment. What's going to happen is that we'll discuss my problem and what kind of accomodations I need and then she'll give me a form for my doctor to fill out to bring back to the school. I just need to find a doctor now!! I do have one, actually I have two but neither one of them takes me too seriously so I'm a little worried about them filling out this form regarding my accomodations. Anyways.. wish me luck!

#9 confetti

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Posted 19 September 2000 - 11:24 PM

I'm so glad my reply is of help to you! I have been off work for quite a while now and it makes me feel useful to put on my old hat and help students!You're right, finding a doctor will be key...maybe someone on this board can suggest one? I'm too new to this to know of any doctors really. If you're going to a large college, maybe even you're advisor might help you with names of doctors she's heard of that are helpful with these kinds of conditions. It's worth a try I guess.If you don't mind me asking, what are you interested in studying? I think you mentioned in your original post but what has been your experience in dealing with ibs and school? Have you had to withdraw from classes many times in the past?

#10 Shyra

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Posted 19 September 2000 - 11:41 PM

Hello again confetti It would appear as though we're online at the same time here. I'm sorry to hear that you've been missing work. What am I interested in studying? Good question! I was in general studies last year taking some socio, psych, and english courses but then decided that wasn't what I wanted to do. Interesting, yes- but not as a career choice. At the moment I'm looking at Applied Communications, I'd just like to try a couple of classes in that to see if it's my thing, I probably have my electives covered at this point. School with IBS: Not good. I missed classes all the time due to feeling sick and anxiety. I've managed a GPA of about 3.2 which isn't bad for a student who left high school with an average of 57%. I never tried too hard in high school though. The only time I ever withdrew from College was last March, three months into second semester. At that time my anxiety had gone through the roof and I found myself having severe panic just driving to school. Today I was on the phone with my Mom's friend who works as a social worker, I described this one episode I had in class and she said it was definately a panic attack. That was the last class I EVER attended at College, I haven't been back since. I do however, feel that I have my anxiety at a somewhat tolerable level now. Through reading this board and receiving so much support I do things now that I wouldn't have dreamed of doing before. So at this point I'm not scared of school, I'm just scared of not being able to do it and having disability privalages would make things SO much easier. And after talking to the advisor it doesn't sound like it's going to be all that hard to be approved. I asked her if she's ever had anyone request disability accomodations because of IBS and she said no, but she has had students with Chrone's. She asked me if I need to go to the bathroom a lot when I get stressed and I said yes and after that it sounded pretty good.Are you on a leave of absence? Do your coworkers know that you have IBS? And also out of curiousity; what did you study in school? Anyways, this turned out much longer than I planned. Thank you for your interest and advice, I'll let you know how things go Thursday!

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Posted 19 September 2000 - 11:45 PM

Hello Shyra..well I agree with Mitchell in the sense that I too have bad IBS-D and made it through 4 years of college. Every situation is different of course, but it's like surrendering to the IBS by giving it "disability" status. Obviously you need special accomodations but you're only going to worsen your panic in the long run because if for some reason you suddenly have those priveleges revoked you won't know how to deal with real-world situations. Obviously you've tried to make it on your own and I commend you for trying. But I think you can cope with school by getting some therapy and trying stress-management techniques, perhaps even anti-anxiety medication. Usually the main source of problems for people like us is the actual panic and anxiety of worrying when an attack will occur. If you can get to the root of what's causing your anxiety and treat that then you will be better equipped for dealing with school and pressure-filled situations. I don't like the idea of sitting through a class or an exam any more than you do, but I have forced myself to adjust and by doing that I have become a stronger person. We all have pitfalls and setbacks but what you are doing is treating the symptoms and not the cause. Either way, I wish you luck. If you do get those special accomodations I hope you will also attempt to get help for those times when you need to be functioning in a normal situation.-Ggirl

#12 Shyra

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Posted 19 September 2000 - 11:54 PM

Hi Ggirl, I understand what you're saying completely and in a way I agree. Of the accomodations the one that is most important to me is being able to obtain class notes from the teacher due to absences. I congratulate you on making it through.. it's tough!! The root of my anxiety is my IBS, I never experienced anxiety before I developed this five years ago and it's just turned into a vicious circle. I feel that if I can somehow get the IBS under control that will help the anxiety. But like I said to confetti, my anxiety has improved about 80% over the last six months or so. A year ago I was afraid to leave the house at all. The only place I would ever go is work and that's pretty much it. Just like you, I have overcome *most* of my fears by just doing it. I challenge myself now and just FORCE myself to go out. I just feel that by going this route for now it will help. I don't consider myself disabled by my IBS per se (and I know that applying for disabilities sounds like a bit of a contradiction) but I think that by finding something that helps me get through school and get a degree with comfort is important and hopefully my symptoms won't be as severe. [This message has been edited by shyra22f (edited 09-19-2000).]

#13 confetti

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Posted 20 September 2000 - 12:18 AM

Hi Ggirl and Shyra22f,I see both sides of the issue with should you declare it a disability or not. Being in the real world and dealing with ibs, I know what it's like to have to suck it up and deal with it. I also know that sometimes, the symptoms are ruling you and not the other way around so you deal with it how you can. Right now I'm dealing with missing work because my nausea is so bad and I'm dealing with how to push myself through and go on. My nausea is so bad right now that I'm having to look at other options of taking days off from work and I think it sounds like that's how shyra22f is trying to ease back into school. Personally (and truly I'm not trying to attack other's opinions here), I think it may be a big step for shyra22f to just consider going back to school (this may be the max of how she can push herself right now) and if having some reasonable accommodations helps to get used to it and feel comfortable, I don't see a real problem with it. Once shyra22f is comfortable with being in school, she may find she doesn't need the accommodations at all...then what a victory! Maybe just the idea that they can be there if needed will be the push back to school.I had something similar to this happen to me. I wasn't having ibs symptoms or anything but when I moved away to college 11 years ago(1 hour away from home), I got so homesick that I couldn't take it. A few weeks into my first semester, I was 2 days from packing up everything and moving home. Then I went to my academic advisor and asked if I could have my classes arranged on two days a week so I could commute from home. Without question, my advisor turned to her computer and arranged my schedule so that would be possible. She was very cool and didn't make me feel like a freak for not being able to handle it (which I was afraid she would do...so afraid I didn't want to mention my homesickness to anyone). I said often afterwards that maybe she was keen enough to sense how close I was to the edge. My advisor made me feel so good about not giving me a hard time that I stuck it out. Turns out, I returned to school the next semester, made friends, and stayed on campus like a "normal" student who moves away from home to go to school. I eventually loved college and was sad to leave when I graduated. I have often said that if my freshman advisor had reacted negatively to me, that I may never have gone back to live at school...it took that one person listening to me and what *I* needed to make it through that gave me the little bit of courage I needed to go on. Side note, I'm all for sticking it out...I eventually made it through a masters degree with little more than normal anxiety...it can be done! Sometimes, it just needs to be done how you know in your heart you can handle it. (I won't even go into the whole story of how I eased into the whole idea of college by sitting out a semester in the first place.) Do think positively though!Shyra22f, you asked me what I studied in school, interestingly enough after the story I just told, I truly think I wanted to become an academic advisor because of my experience with my freshman advisor! As an undergrad, I studied graphic arts, worked in that field for a few years and then got a masters in student personnel adminsitration. Sounds like you may like some people careers too with being interested in sociology? Are you around the traditional college age?Sorry for rambling, gees!

#14 Shyra

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Posted 20 September 2000 - 01:01 AM

Hi confetti, you pretty much have it right on the money with what you said. Possibly with just knowing that I have the option it will make me feel better. Kind of like taking your own car to an outing- you know have the option of leaving if you get sick. And as far as sucking it up- I've done that more times than I can remember. Sometimes it's just easier to put on a happy face and get out of the house for the sake of someone you care about despite the fact that you're experiencing a lot of pain or anxiety. Not to mention, that's one of the only ways to confront your fears! And isn't it amazing how just one person's kindness can totally affect you? I had a math teacher in high school who did the same thing. I was doing so poorly in her class that I was ready to throw in the towel but she pushed me and I did it. I'll never forget her. Confetti- I'm 22 years old, a bit behind some of friends who are half way through or almost done college, but I'll get there someday!! I did take about a two year break in between high school and college. I hope that you get feeling better soon and I'm sure you'll find something here on the board to help you with that. I appreciate everyone's support and input on this topic. [This message has been edited by shyra22f (edited 09-19-2000).]

#15 marianne

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Posted 20 September 2000 - 01:04 AM

I didn't read all of the posts here, but I was a bit surprised that your doctor was "clueless" about ibs. Have you seen a gastroenterologist? My gastroenterologist told me that the #1 reason patients visit gastroenterologist is IBS. So if you are seeing someone in this speciality and he is clueless, you had better see someone else for your own good. The same is true for any other doctor who is clueless.Frankly, you don't need to drop out of college because of diarrhea. My cousin who teaches at Columbia University says that what you need is a note from your doctor stating that you suffer from uncontrollable diarrhea and must sit near the exit on the aisle and be allowed to exit the room without permission to go to the toilet. You will need a special arrangement for exams. Just make xeroxes of this letter and hand one to each and every professor at the beggining of the term. This may seem petty, but I recommend that you wear full skirts, not pants if you are worried about making it in time. This would also make it possible for you to wear a heavy panty shield, or even a light disposable diaper. This may seem repugnant to you, but if the only other choice is dropping out and losing out on life, it seems a small price to pay.Good luck.By the way, if Caltrate Plus didn't help have you tried some niacin? I was allergic to just about everything that helped me; the C+ worked for a while and then began to fail; I then realized that niacin was a great bile binder and have been taking it with success (I seem to be getting contstipated, which seems a miracle to me.)[This message has been edited by marianne (edited 09-19-2000).]

#16 Shyra

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Posted 20 September 2000 - 01:17 AM

Hi marianne, I have been to a gastroenterologist but the chances of getting back into him in time is pretty unlikely. It was my family physicians who were clueless. One of them referred to my IBS as IBD!! So obviously she doesn't know the difference. And my other doctor insisted that I just had heartburn when I first starting going to him about my D. What exactly is niacin and where can you get it? I'd be willing to try anything that works for D, as I'm sure I mentioned the effects of the Imodium are wearing off and I have to take at least 6 a day to keep things under control. I'd never quit school permanantly because of this. I did need to take a break though and I'm feeling much more confident since I feel that I can handle my anxiety but like I said; accomodations would make things much easier for me.

#17 confetti

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Posted 20 September 2000 - 01:52 AM

shyra...please make sure you post again and let us know how everything with school went!

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Posted 20 September 2000 - 03:24 AM

Hi Shyra, just wanted to wish you good luck on going back to school I never did go to college so I can't help you there-but I admire your guts and courage for going to college with ibs and the anxiety that goes with it Wishing you lots of luck!!

#19 cookies4marilyn

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Posted 20 September 2000 - 04:01 AM

Hi Shyra...Remember me (the M.D emails?)Anyway, these posts are interesting, and there are two sides to everything...Here's my 2 cents for what it's worth! I taught a few college courses, and I say whatever you can do to see your goal through, go for it...IBS is disabling, I don't know if I could have obtained my degrees having the IBS I have now...But I worked with handicapped kids, and even though this is a bit different, I would say that anything that takes the stress off is only going to help the IBS tame down..You may not have this condition always, and it should not get in the way of your dreams. Since everyone's IBS symptoms are different, I don't think that anyone but YOU can know what you can or cannot handle. My IBS has consisted of 3 to 4 D attacks a day, with severe pain all day...and I am raising two kids...I did get my GP to get me out of jury duty, and without any feeling of guilt or shirking my responsibility. I do the best I can with what I have to deal with, and obviously, you are too!!!! If you try to "hide" your condition, and just go along, this is only going to add to your stress...if you acknowledge it, and try your best to deal with it...by doing what you are doing re. disability on campus, then your stress level will go down, and as you get involved with school and meeting people, etc. who knows...Also, look into complementary things like relaxation, etc. (I am doing Mike's tapes, but that is your choice...everyone has a different way to heal or cope). Good luck to you...and let's keep in touch...(HUGS) to you and you go girl...hey I am a mom...my son's a senior, so I know from both points of view!!! LOL ------------------"Cookies" alias Marilyn
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Posted 20 September 2000 - 04:19 AM

Hi, Shyra. I heard you say that you had to drop out after 3 months. I was wondering if you received an F in those classes? Also, do you know the answers to these questions:IF you drop out or get an F because of missed classes and tests from IBS, do you know if you can get that grade thrown away if you tell them you have IBS? would it make a difference if you failed all the classes rather than just one? I still have an F hanging over me from a year ago and i fear i am going to get another one this semester. The sucky thing is that I get A's on all my tests, usually. Thanx for any input!





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