Narrator: For many with ulcerative colitis, the excitement of entering college can easily be overshadowed by one huge preoccupation.
Jessalyn Smiley: Bathroom…bathroom's the biggest one…
Narrator: Jessalyn Smiley works for the Office of Disability Services at Emory University in Atlanta.Part of her job is to help students with chronic illnesses, like ulcerative colitis, adjust to campus life. Smiley provides practical answers to a host of student anxieties.
Jessalyn Smiley: Am I going to be close enough to the bathroom If I'm living in a residence hall to get to it when I need to;when I'm in the classroom am I going to be close enough to the bathroom to get to it when I need to; how do I tell my professor if I need to go to the bathroom and I might not be coming back?These are concerns that IBD patients don't take lightly.
Emily Moore: Here was the bathroom and here was my room. So and I don't know what I would have done if my room would have been much farther from the bathroom because I need to get to the bathroom.
Narrator: Not to mention that confined spaces, having to sit for long periods and increased social and academic demands can all ramp up the stress—which can sometimes trigger a flare.
Jessalyn Smiley: A lot of the times, our students coming in are aware of how they need to take care of themselves. That part's usually not the area that trips them up.It's usually…I've introduced new foods into my diet that weren't there before. I've introduced new germs, to my body, that weren't there before.I'm not sleeping…I'm trying to do all of my school work plus all of the fun extra-curricular things.
Narrator: Students with IBD should start preparing for college-life almost from the moment they get the acceptance letter.
Jessalyn Smiley: First and foremost would be to contact your university. Find out what type of documentation they're going to need from your healthcare provider.
Narrator: This legitimizes a student's condition and opens the door for school counselors to help the student plan a curriculum that's not too heavy, provide adequate dorm accommodations,or make allowances for specialized meals, if necessary.Many schools, like Emory, have protocols in place to help students navigate potentially thorny or embarrassing situations during long exams and lectures periods.
Jessalyn Smiley: The student works out with their professor a little signal. So the professor knows that they're leaving and that they may not be returning. The professor doesn't know why.We let the students decide how much or how little they're going to tell their professors,but as an accommodation we let the professors know that the student may need to leave suddenly from the lecture and they may not return.
Narrator: New students should learn the layout of their campus so they not only know where the bathrooms are in relationship to their classes, but where the student clinic is as well.It's also recommended that students find a local gastroenterologist should more specialized care become necessary.
Jessalyn Smiley: Cause it's hard for you to maintain your health when you're out of state and your doctor's at home and you have a flare or something's going on and you're here.