I wasn’t diagnosed with my chronic illness (an autoimmune blood disorder) until after college, when I was in my early 20s. But I was young and thousands of miles away from my parents when I first had to deal with the disease, so I can relate to some of the things that New York University student Lily Altavena, who has Crohn’s disease, has gone through and blogged about today on The Choice.
I, too, have had to drop everything and scramble to find a specialist (without the benefit of having family nearby to help) when symptoms flared up; I, too, have had fights with my insurance company (a CT of my spleen was rescheduled several times because of coverage issues); and I, too, have had to deal with the effects of prednisone at an age where few things are worse than walking around with “moon face.” (My friends were kind enough to tell me that no, my face didn’t look puffier than normal; only years later did my then-boyfriend and now-husband admit that yeah, there had been some major swelling of my cheeks.)
As Altavena writes, having a chronic illness when you’re in college – and/or young and far away from your family – is tough. And though her advice for being in college and living with a chronic illness doesn’t apply to me, I appreciate the tips and think they’re a must-read for anyone in her situation.