College and Crohns

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Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 138
   Posted 9/14/2009 4:40 PM (GMT -7)   
Hey everyone,

I've been on and off of this forum for a while, I'm much more of an observer than a replier lol, but i have a few questions to ask. first of all i do have Crohn's disease, i was diagnosed when i was 17 shortly before Christmas. Before that it was believed I had UC, and before that I suffered from a bout of C. diff and colitis. Basically my whole high school career was consumed with illness. Well I am now approaching my 20th b-day and the end of Sept. and in my second year of college. I decided to go to community college instead of my university of choice because I still have problems dealing with my crohn's and wasn't sure if i could make it on my own yet. But anyway, I'm taking classes at a pretty slow pace, only about 10hrs per semester so it will probably be about 6 or more years before i get a bachelors. I've been pretty sick lately and most of professors are understanding but i think im going to have to drop out of math. I'm having a lot of trouble and my professor is contradicting and unhelpful. I mean i guess I just feel like a failure sometimes because I want to do well as a student but i got at a snails pace, maintain a good social life, dating, and just be normal i guess. I was able to maintain a 4.0 the first year though. I just feel my peers are so much more ahead of me in school, life etc. I mean I don't really have that much of a social life anymore because I'm sick, but thankful for my few loyal friends. I can't even attend my 3hr a week tutoring job...its just so frustrating. I'm seriously considering looking into collecting disability. I'm just wondering if there's anyone out there with their experiences attending college with this disease? Like any coping skills? Or, what kind of degree or job did you pursue that is flexible with you're Crohn's?

Thanks for listening,

Post Edited (kix2989) : 9/14/2009 11:25:30 PM (GMT-6)

Elite Member

Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 10404
   Posted 9/14/2009 5:03 PM (GMT -7)   
Yes, I did university with Crohn's and I so relate to what you said about always feeling behind your peers, and not having the energy / ability to do all those important fun and extracurricular activities that your fellow-students can enjoy.

It sounds to me as if you already have *fabulous* coping skills to be able to maintain such high grades while so unwell, so I won't bore you with study tips - I don't think you need them :-).

As far as life goes, I can only suggest that you keep on trying. It might take 20, 30, 40 attempts to find a niche where you can participate and enjoy yourself despite your current symptoms, but you'll never find that niche if you don't keep looking for it.

It sounds as if you're American, so I won't offer any specific advice on finding a niche, as anything I did in Australia probably won't exist in the US :-).

Please do try not to be so hard on yourself. You really are doing very well. I think it's a very positive sign that you are aware of your limitations and, instead of giving up, have simply found another way to achieve your goals. Good for you!

Co-Moderator Crohn's Forum.

Medications for Crohn's ~~ Diet and Nutritional Therapy for Crohn's ~~ Dealing with Abscesses and Fistulae ~~

Veteran Member

Date Joined Jun 2006
Total Posts : 909
   Posted 9/14/2009 5:44 PM (GMT -7)   
Kix, do you have the option of taking online classes? This would allow you to complete work on your own time and not have to worry about missing classes. Most colleges now offer a wide variety of online classes.

For me, I try to make sure I keep as stress free as possible (which can certainly be difficult during the semester) and I try to pace myself with my work. If I know I'm going to be in and out of the bathroom a lot, I take my school reading with me. I also find it comforting to sit near the door in class and know exactly where the nearest bathroom is in case I need to make a quick exit.

I have nothing but respect for your desire to continue on with your education even though you are dealing with this illness. It will not be easy, but I strongly believe it will be worth the effort.
29f, PhD student, diagnosed with Crohn's ileocolitis in 2/06.
During the summer of 2006, I completed the Adacolumn Apheresis clinical trial, which helped me enjoy 2+ years of remission and more than one year med-free. During spring and summer of 2009 the symptoms slowly but surely began to return, and now I'm flaring again.
Colonoscopy/endoscopy scheduled for 9/10; barium X-ray scheduled for 9/18
Currently taking: 4g Pentasa, 20mg prednisone, 150mg Trazadone, multivitamin, vitamin D supplement

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 769
   Posted 9/14/2009 6:28 PM (GMT -7)   

Hi Kix, I know how you feel, I was diagnosed at 18 just months after I moved 5 hours away from my beloved parents to go to university (there are no universities near my parent’s place so I was forced to move). It was one of the hardest times….. I was alone, with no friends, only my boyfriend and my sister, and I suddenly got crohn’s, I was living on my own, with no money, was forced to maintain a casual job waitressing as well as having crohn’s and studying full-time because without the job I simply couldn’t survive. But somehow I managed it. It was extremely difficult at times, because I had to work and study full-time hours (I did a communications degree with majors in Public relations and Journalism)….. I didn’t have any time to be sick; I just had to get on with the job. I found that my lecturers and tutors were extremely understanding, just let them know you have crohn’s, give them some details about what the disease consists of….. They should be understanding. I had to supply a lot of doctor’s certificates, but this is only fair, and I only had to supply them if I required an extension of 2 or 3 days.


I ended up in hospital once or twice during semester, with severs flares and on a drip for a week or so, and when this happened I was determined I was NOT going to defer….. I just got extensions on my work and made up for it. I am a perfectionist and a fighter though and so I push myself, that’s just how I am. I know a lot of people who went to uni and deferred or quit even though they were able to live with their parents and were healthy as could be – they simply couldn’t handle the stress of uni. I guess it is just up to the individual – but if you want it enough, it can be done. I graduated the year before last and my GPA was so good I was even offered Honours!!! All the hard work paid off and I was so happy with myself being able to achieve a degree through all the hard stuff….. makes me feel like I can do anything if I set my mind to it, its very liberating.


My advice would be to be as open and honest as you can with your teachers….. let them know you are doing your very best but you are very ill….. they will admire your perseverance. Communication is key. Make sure you have a good dr who will give you medical certificates if you need them for extensions….. get lots of rest and relaxation times for yourself if you can….. don’t worry about ‘missing out’ on the social scene, it may be more exciting in the U.S but I don’t feel like I missed out on much of anything socially over here!! Getting completely wasted and passing out somewhere was not my idea of fun anyway!


You can totally do this!!!

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2005
Total Posts : 4219
   Posted 9/14/2009 7:57 PM (GMT -7)   
I second the above advice. I let my professors know that I had this disease and would go to the bathroom a lot. I usually went to class even if I felt crappy and would just get up to use the bathroom as many times as I needed to. I found I did need more sleep than most and maintained a social life but a pretty laid back one.
27 Year old married female.  Graduated law school this year and waiting for results of the bar exam.  Start a new job sometime in September.  Diagnosed w/ CD 4 years ago, IBS for over 10 years before that, which was probably the CD. I am sort of lactose intollerant too but can handle anything cultured and do well w/ lactose pills and lactaid. For crohns I am currently on Pentasa 4 pills/4x day and hysociamine prn. I also have bad acid reflux and have been on PPI's since age 13. I have been through prilosec, prevacid, and nexium. Currently I am on Protonix in the morning and Zantac at night.  I take xanax prn for situational anxiety (aka no easy bathroom access). 

Regular Member

Date Joined Dec 2007
Total Posts : 298
   Posted 9/14/2009 8:29 PM (GMT -7)   
I did not develop Crohn's until grad school, so I can't really give specific advice to get you through undergrad. But I do think that you are being a bit hard on yourself.
It is difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to maintain a 4.0 and at the same time have a great social life, date, and so on during undergrad. With or without a chronic illness, everyone my case I chose my studies. I had very little social life, only a few close friends. I was lucky to find a boyfriend (now husband) in my second year who had similar habits, and we studied together daily including Fridays and weekends. And had fun maybe one night out of the week. Most people I knew had a similar experience. That's just what it's like to be grade-driven.
I would advise staying away from high-stress majors--engineering, science--unless you are 100% sure it's what you want to do.
I think that taking classes online is a good idea. Summer classes are also a good way to move towards graduation faster. You really should try to get your Bachelors done in 5 years if you can, otherwise it will raise red flags with future employers. I have had undergrads working for me who do online classes over the summer through a community college. Definitely something worth looking into. You can usually do 2 courses over a summer, possibly more. Do you plan on transitioning to a 4-year college at some point? Most larger schools have offices devoted to accomodating student disabilities, so it is an option.
Best of luck.
July 2007 Drug-Induced Liver Injury
January 2008 Crohn's Ileitis
Currently trying... Enteral Nutrition, VSL#3, Primadophilus Reuteri, Folic Acid, Vitamin E

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2005
Total Posts : 769
   Posted 9/14/2009 9:22 PM (GMT -7)   

Illini it sounds like we had very similar university experiences!! I only had a close few friends, but they are still my best, closest friends, some of whom I made at uni, others from long ago, and so I still had a social life, just a quiet and relaxing one….. a wild lifestyle will always be bad for crohn’s…. even my friends who were at uni and 100% healthy didn’t have too crazy a social-life, because they were poor students and couldn’t afford it!! But there is a lot you can do that doesn’t cost much and its company more than anything that counts. I also lived with my boyfriend so we lived quietly together and stayed in a lot but we didn’t mind at all!! I definitely needed more sleep than most too, probably a large part of that had to do with my anaemia.


I think your success at university as a student has much more to do with your drive than your disease. Even people who are 100% healthy can flunk out of class if they are not devoted enough….. Just do as much as you can, and concentrate on the study part of the experience rather than this social scene….. that would be  my advice. It got me through with flying colours!

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 138
   Posted 9/14/2009 10:22 PM (GMT -7)   
thank you for all the responses! they are very uplifting and hopeful to me. I have tried online classes in science but had to withdraw because to be honest it was insanely difficult to keep up. I think the intro assignment was like a 1200= word paper. But I am trying something cool this semester a hybrid class, where we meet only once a week but also do work online. As far as telling professors, I am registered with the health offices and have a special card to show my professors and then I usually explain the problem. So far, I've had pretty good feedback from them, just my math professor, who was all onboard to help me, make quizzes/tests up, etc etc, is now going back on her word. For example, I missed a class and went to the following meeting, I found out I had missed a quiz and asked her when I could make it up only to found out I can't and it will be counted as my dropped score. I reminded her of my health services card and she said, 'o we'll see how many days you miss and quizzes at the end of the semester and see if you can make it up then' o yea 3months after we're learned the material ***?? also, the material is super hard, its just gen ed math for the state of IL, but its a lot of finite components and its just not clicking. I tried math assistance o and even asking my teacher but to no avail. I've decided I'm going to drop the class to take the stress off. I think i may try statistics. Sorry for the rant! I guess I just have to keep persevering, its just becoming really hard at times. and again thank you all for the helpful responses, I;ll try not to be such a stranger anymore!

New Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 3
   Posted 9/15/2009 9:57 AM (GMT -7)   
Kix, I know EXACTLY where your coming from.

I am 20 and currently studying Communication design (I am from aus). This involves publishing, photography, graphic etc.

During my last year of highschool before I knew I had CD I was extremly ill. However I still managed to get straight a's and do well considering. But last year I was diagnosed half way though my first year at uni. On top of that my osteopenia developed and I just couldn't do any work. So after much considerations I changed uni, as my current uni was too far and my heart wasn't in it.

At the moment though I am doing well but I know what its like to struggle. There are days when I can't even get out of bed to do uni. Others I am just so down the last thing I want to do is skip around taking photos. It's hard, I know but what I am trying and I mean trying, to tell myself is that if I can do uni this ill, I can do anything. So just remeber that when your down :)

Speaking of uni, it's 3am here and I have been up due to hot sweat, cramped legs and a headache. I am on this for something to do because I just can't lie down. So much for starting uni at 8:00am! But it happens and my tutors like yours are understanding so we will see, but I feel yuk so maybe not. Just travelling to uni makes me worse! I am sure I am not the only one.
Aged 20.
Diagnosed since June 2008 and currently on Imuran + Infliximab.
I cannot eat most dairy, wheat and sugars.
I also have Osteopenia and mild anxiety.
Full time student and wannabe traveller.
I am a forum and Crohn's newbie :)

Regular Member

Date Joined Aug 2009
Total Posts : 27
   Posted 9/16/2009 6:46 PM (GMT -7)   
Kix, I feel as though I'm in a similar position. I'm a 21 year old college student in the states. I hesitated on responding as I actually have Ulcerative Colitis and not Crohn's, but after reading what you wrote, it sounded eerily similar to what I've gone through. I think it's great that you're taking it at a slower pace, I'm doing it full-time in 4 years and really feel as though taking my time would've been a little more helpful. I think you summed it up best when you said it's so frustrating. That's the biggest feeling I have at school every day. Friends want to go out, and I usually have to say no just cuz I feel so bad, I wish I felt good enough to go out- frustrating. Leaving class 3 times to use the bathroom - frustrating. Passing up job and internship opportunities - frustrating. I think it's important to have understanding professors, I spoke with all of mine prior to the beginning of classes this semester (my first semester with UC) and made sure they'd be the types of professors that are compassionate and understanding and don't care if I have to sit next to the door and leave class 10 times to use the bathroom. This is just me, but if I were you I'd drop that math class. It's not worth your time if the professor just isn't going to help you and on top of that it's added stress if a professor is less than cooperative and I don't know about you, but stress is a major trigger for a majority of my symptoms. Good luck and try to enjoy your college years, it's hard I know.

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2008
Total Posts : 63
   Posted 9/16/2009 7:27 PM (GMT -7)   
Hi Kix! I've been doing my undergrad for going on 6 years now. I did have to drop some classes which put me behind some years, but you do what you have to do for you. I understand that it can be frustrating though. Luckily my professors have all been very supportive. I'm currently working my bachelors in Nursing, so lucky for me, my professors already knew about Crohn's, which meant less explaining for me and more understanding from them. The school I attend for nursing is the best program in the state, needless to say, its also known as the most difficult program to get through. My crohn's is aggravated very much by stress, so semesters are hard to get through, but I think it builds character. I think in order to avoid the loneliness and isolating feelings its important to get out and interact with others, and live your life as normal as you can. I'd like to recommend a book to you, WOMEN,WORK, AND AUTOIMMUNE DISEASES. It was recommended in an MS journal, but the authors have MS, Crohn's, and Colitis. Its an incredible book, and I think it would really help you!
-Heather, 23 yrs. old

- Crohns disease since 1995, officially diagnosed in 2003.

- Bowel resection in Dec. 07, Crohns reoccurred July 08.

- Medications - Entocort 9mg, Wellbutrin SR 150mg, Lexapro 20mg, Bentyl 10mg, Levsin, Trazadone 50mg, Humira

Veteran Member

Date Joined Apr 2008
Total Posts : 1753
   Posted 9/17/2009 9:54 AM (GMT -7)   
I'm a 21 year old college student, and I can understand definitely where you're coming from. University is really, really difficult sometimes!! Just make sure to talk one on one with every teacher, make sure you're registered with full detail with your Office of Disabilities, etc. And try not to take too many hours...if the math class is causing problems then drop it and take it later when your course load isn't as heavy. I did that, and it saved my grade! We may take longer to graduate, but that's okay. No one can rightly expect us to do everything exactly the same as everyone else.
Good luck with your studies! I know you can do it :)
20 years old, Diagnosed with moderate to severe Crohn's and Colitis in May of 2008.
Currently taking: Prednisone 5 mg, pentasa 2 pills 4x a day, omeprazole in the morning, and a women's multivitamin. I'm also trying a B vitamin complex, but it doesn't seem to be working so I'm considering the shots.
Diet almost completely without refined sugars, wheat, flour, gluten, high lactose dairy, and/or junk food in general.
Learning how to live again.
"He who has a why to live for can bear with almost any how."

Veteran Member

Date Joined May 2009
Total Posts : 506
   Posted 9/17/2009 10:06 AM (GMT -7)   
I was lucky enough that my major onset of Crohn's (and subsequent diagnosis) was after my 2nd year of college. I only had issues my senior year, in which it too a total of 32 credits and pretty much was on prednisone the entire year. It was tough, but I wasn't going to let it beat me. Just do as much as you think you can handle; your heath is much more important that schooling.
Diagnosed with CD July 2007
Currently on Remicade, Imuran, probiotics, folic acid, multivitamin.

Amor fati - Nietzsche

Regular Member

Date Joined Nov 2007
Total Posts : 138
   Posted 9/18/2009 11:07 PM (GMT -7)   
thank you soo much for all the encouraging words! it feels good to know I'm not alone!! i don't really know anyone else with crohn's disease even tho i live in the chicago-metro area, so i just think this board is so great to actually relate to people who know what i'm going through!!

BostonBB- i did drop the math class-it was just too much, this actually will give me the opportunity to try to work more hours tutoring, pending that i stay healthy *cross fingers*!!!

Easier2run-thank you for the book recommendation, i'm gonna check it out!

LMills- i am registered with the health office, but to be honest with you they are pretty incompetent, in my case at least, i got really bad advice about choosing classes from one of their counselors, but i do get a little blue card to show my professors.

Thanks again!

Veteran Member

Date Joined Sep 2009
Total Posts : 999
   Posted 9/20/2009 9:01 PM (GMT -7)   
I'm going through the same thing Kix. I'm in my fourth year but I'm a double major so I'll be there for at least two more years so I can take my time. Crohn's caused me to drop and mess up a few classes before I knew what I had. You just have to find what makes you happy. I would suggest if you have not decided on a degree yet to talk to different faculty and departments and see what kinds possibilities there are, they might have suggestions as well. Have you tried taking math at another college and transfering credit? If you can, you might find a more understanding professor and even if you don't the grade will not show. I know I've been putting off my last calculus class and my physics. I have a love/ hate relationship with Physics, it gets the medal for having brought out my first Crohn's flare!! But its one of those things I feel I must accomplish or else the Crohn's has won! I have art incase I end up too sick to pursue anything in the geosciences. It is always good to have a second choice. Most of my Profs. have been petty good about it because they are kinda like a family but Geosciences is not really a good mix with Crohn's. I did have one ta last semester like your math prof who didn't care that that I had the flu, a temp of 105, and severe asthma(this was before I found out I had Crohn's but was feeling awful). He decided that my lab was late and no matter what he wasn't going to take it. Its just annoying having to deal with those types of people when you don't feel well. Hang in there!
21yr f. diagnosed with Crohn's summer 09 symptoms for at least 6 years
allergic to contrast dye and cipro
just finished prednisone, on Lialda

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