Hey! It’s college season and some of you are headed off. So bully for you! (Erm, this is Teddy by the way…again)
Last year I headed off to school terrified out of my orthostatic wits. It wasn’t for lack of resources or family support, but it was tough. Before I became ill I had high hopes for college. I wanted to go on the East Coast and attend a top tier school. Didn’t happen. I got in, but I ended up being too sick to fly cross country constantly, plus having POTS in an extreme climate is bad news bears. So I went to a place that is pretty consistent weather-wise and we hoped for the best. Something must have worked because I’m going back for my 2nd year.
A few things to keep in mind in mind before you go:
-College is the best thing for your mental health (fun and intellectual stimulation)
-It’s a jet start for your social life
-Don’t Panic (Anyone notice the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy reference?)
1. You don’t have to graduate in 4 years. Health stuff can screw it up, no matter how hardworking you are. So don’t sweat it.
2. People will be willing to help you. Believe me. You will be ok.
So before you head off to Hogwarts, there are a few things you should arrange first.
1. Contact the Disability service. POTS is a legitimate physical disability (despite how hard we fight against it) and they’re a great resource. A word of caution, give them unquestionable proof from your doctor, and a list of accomodations that you need. Some good ones are making sure the teachers know about what you have (they have to keep it a secret, and treat you just the same) so if you get sick that they can cut you some slack. The Disabilities service can also get you a room on the first floor near the main campus. It will be a lifesend on sick days and when you can’t deal with stairs.
2. Get a single room. NO this won’t inhibit your social life. NO it isn’t isolating you from others. It is NECESSARY. I fought against mine for all it was worth, but it was the main reason I could finish the year. Plus, a month in (when everyone else is sick of their rommates) they’ll flock to your room. My room didn’t have any floor space during exams because my friends would take it over to study.
Ok, now I know you are furtively looking through Target and websites trying to find sheets for an “extra long” bed. Secret? It’s not any longer. Honest. At least at my school. Get the sheets you want, and not the boring cotton ones you find when you’re at your wits end.
I realized there were a bunch of things like that. Things that you don’t know until you have already made the mistakes. So when a dear friend of mine was going off to college this fall, I compiled a list for her. I’ve expanded it for those of us with POTS, so here it is! I tried to avoid the obvious things. Something tells me you won’t leave home without a toothbrush. So I know I’m giving you a lot of credit here, but I suspect you can live up to it : )
1. Minimum of 5 posters (nothings is sadder than a white wall)
2. Two microwave safe thermoses.
3. Triscuits/Wheat thins (salty snacks galore!)
4. Two sets of headphones (one always breaks a month in)
5. Ear Plugs (or there will be no sleeping until 2 in the morning in the dorms)
6. Puffs Kleenex with Lotion (colds run rampant)
7. a throw blanket (I got mine at pottery barn and I live in it. This is especially important on sick days where your body is cold intolerant)
8. Extra printers ink
9. Blank CDs (the new college currency)
11. Ramen (for those days you can’t make it to the cafeteria)
12. Tacky (for hanging up posters, pictures, syllabuses, etc.)
13. Extra body lotion/make up (it gets used up freakishly fast)
14. Dish soap
15. Utensils and a bowl or two
17. Laundry bag, detergent, dryer sheets
18. A little black dress (something will always come up and you will need it)
19. Nail polish and nail polish remover
20. Granola bars (you will live off these on mornings with early classes)
21. Peanut butter and/or Nutella
22. A Brita or other water filtration device (the sink water usually tastes terrible)
23. Gatorade powder packets/pedialyte powder packets
24. Medical records for the disability office/university infirmary
25. A couple novels/Sims 3/gameboy games for your bad days
Well, that is my current list. The rest is really up to your current taste. For example, I keep lots of tea, all my Harry Potter books, and plants in my room. Some people do not feel complete without a closet worth of shoes and a wall of pictures. Just bring what you need (and whatever I tell you to 😛 Have faith in master Teddy, I will not lead you astray!)
Most of all, I wish you luck. Going away is especially difficult for us because of all the care we need. You will be faced with tough problems, like how to tell someone you’re sick and if anyone needs to know. I decided to be very open about it, because then people would stop asking me why I avoided stairs, went to bed early, etc. You have a heart problem, end of story. It’s not a big deal. What IS a big deal is that you’re about to go off on an enormous adventure!
But a post would not be complete without something fun. I can think of nothing more so than decorating a dorm room : ) Pie and I spent the summer going to antique stores and craft stores. We cut up a book of new age-y pictures and made a collage. My dear friend at school and I are having a modge podge day soon to decorate our notebooks. (If you don’t know about modge podge, go get some! It flattens paper into collages and makes them stick together with a shiny glow) I brought some glass jars to put loose leaf tea in and lanterns for night lights. It gives my room a really outdoorsy feel. I found a really cool blog about a stay at home mom that makes nature-y crafts that would look AWESOME in a dorm room. I think I’ll try to wax some maple leaves and hang them up.http://www.5orangepotatoes.com/blog/nature-activities/
A dorm room project I just did was to take a bunch of clothespins and hang up pictures of my friends and family. It always gives me a glad feeling to see my favorite people smiling at me. Plus it makes me look like I’m artistic, which I assure you is not the case!