Having Crohn’s Disease unfortunately means having Crohn’s flare-ups from time to time. Flare-ups can come at the worst times and can range from mild diarrhea to severe pain that results in hospitalization. This can be extremely frightening for students away from home and the help of their parents.
As with most emergencies, it is important to have a plan. Here are a few ways you can prepare for the worst possible Crohn’s Disease flare-up, and take a little bit of the stress out of the question “When will the next flare be?”
Have A Designated Flare-Up Buddy
Before a flare-up happens, find someone you trust and are very comfortable with and ask them to be your “flare-up buddy”. This can be your roommate, your boyfriend/ girlfriend, or just a good friend. Make sure you let them know exactly what you might need from them. This can be different from person to person, but just make sure the person knows what they are getting themselves into. Once your emergency is over and done with, be sure to thank your buddy. A six-pack of beer or a pizza can go a long way toward making sure your friend is there to help again next time around.
Pack A Bag
Pack a bag full of all the things you might need during a flare-up. Imagine if you were hospitalized because of the flare. What would you need? Here are a few things I have in my emergency flare bag:
- A change of clothes (especially underwear)
- Book/ magazine
- Phone charger
- List of medications and important medical information
- Travel pillow (in case you’re stuck in the waiting room)
Take some time to think about your last hospital stay. What would have made it better? Trust me you’ll be glad you don’t have to collect all these things while you’re in pain.
Keep All Important Numbers Handy
Make sure you know where to find absolutely every important number that pertains to your Crohn’s Disease. Figure out the direct line to your favorite nurse ahead of time, as you don’t want to be stuck going through an automated hospital menu to get the help you need. I would go as far as to type them all out and print a few copies. Maybe even laminate one and put it on the wall. When you’re having a flare-up you definitely don’t want to be stuck searching for your doctor’s number.
One thing kids in college often overlook is transportation. If you are forced to go to the hospital, how are you going to get there? You’re most likely not going to want to walk while you’re in pain, and you’re also not going to want to pay for an ambulance. It’s important to know how you’re going to get to help. If you or your flare-up buddy don’t have a car, is there one you can borrow? Can you call for a cab? If you will have to pay for transportation, keep cab fare or bus tokens in your bag so you don’t have to scrounge around for the cash. Does your school have transportation services? Just make sure you have this figured out before a flare-up.
Plan To Stay On Top Of Your Studies
Another very important thing college students forget is that the academic world is still spinning while you are sick. It is beyond important to figure out a way to keep up with your schoolwork. Make sure you contact your professors right away and let them know your situation. If you have contacted disabilities services and also talked with your professor about your condition earlier in the semester, they should be understanding and willing to help. Just be ready to work your tail off to keep up. Talk with your flare-up buddy and ask him or her to act as a liaison between you and your professors. Your flare-up buddy can bring you notes and deliver completed assignments to your professors.
Flare-ups are distressing. They can alter the normal rhythms of your life, often necessitating days off from school and changes in social plans. And they are even worse when you are away from home for the first time. Take the time to prepare an emergency flare-up plan. When the flare-up comes, you’ll be glad you did. Before you know it, you’ll be able to handle a flare-up as well as you did when you were living with your parents.
Your turn! Do you have any suggestions on how to make an emergency flare-up plan? How about a flare-up story? Get the conversation going in the comments section below!