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Health & Balance

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Managing the Stress of Chronic Disease at College

Checklist for Managing Your Condition continued...

3. Make sure you're insured. Check with your parents about the details of their policy before you leave, and find out whether it will cover you if you are out of state. You can also ask your college admissions department about buying a student insurance policy.

4. Check in with your doctor. Before you leave for college, visit your doctor for a checkup. Use the time to discuss any concerns you have about managing your condition at school. Work with the doctor to develop a treatment plan you can use while you're away. Also, ask for a referral to a doctor near your school. Stock up on a one- to three-month supply of insulin, inhalers, and whatever other medications and supplies you'll need. And find out where to refill your prescriptions while you're at school. Keep the phone numbers of your doctor at home, as well as a local doctor and hospital, in your dorm room in case of emergency.

5. Visit your college health center. Make an appointment at the beginning of the year to introduce yourself to the center and its staff. Familiarize them with your condition. Ask whether anyone on staff is specially trained to treat it. Give them a copy of your medical records so the doctor will know exactly how your chronic disease is being managed. Learn who to contact after-hours and the location of the nearest hospital in case you have an emergency.

6. Find support. Ask whether your college or town has a chapter of an organization focused on your condition -- such as the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation or the Epilepsy Foundation. Having access to a supportive group of people who understand what you're going through can be a big relief, especially when you're in a new place.

7. Stay healthy. Living in close quarters with people makes college a petri dish for infections. Before you go off to school, make sure you've gotten all the immunizations your school requires, plus the vaccinations your doctor recommends for your chronic disease. To avoid picking up a bug, don't share with your roommates too liberally. You can swap notes and clothes, but some things -- like your toothbrush, razors, eating utensils, and towels -- should be off-limits.

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