Hi Teacher! Im so glad you came here. There is a lot I wish everyone knew about
crohns disease. For me one of the big issues in high school was all the strict rules. I was not diagnosed w/ crohns but at that time was told I had IBS (irritable bowel syndrome) which has a lot of the same symptoms. Here are some of the issues I faced:
1.) Food and Drink. I could not eat in the morning or I would get instant diarrhea or vomit. If I didn't eat at all I would get very very dizzy and naseaus. I needed to get to school, get through maybe half of my first class, and then snack a little... maybe some crackers. I also couldnt eat at home and then drive because I might have to use the bathroom. The key was to get to school, eat, poop, then go to classes, and maybe poop some more. But as you know, there is usually a no eating rule in school. I also was always very dehydrated and wished I could have gum or water to deal with the dry mouth. Also not allowed. I broke all three of those rules and because I was a nice, smart, kid, most of the teachers just looked the other way. I told most of them about my medical issues, in the process of being diagnosed, and they were good about it. Also, if I snacked throughout the day my stomach was a lot better than if I just ate lunch.
2.) Bathroom access. We were expected to use the bathroom in the 2 minutes between classes. Not always enough time, and crowded with peers that didnt' want to hear or smell what I needed to do. Also, during classes all the bathrooms were locked (to keep out skippers) except the ones downstairs on the other side of school. I would also need to ask permission, sign out, get a pass, get to the locked bathroom, sign in, etc. All with a bathroom montior outside to prevent smoking. Once I was honest with my teachers, a few let me go without a pass, and let me take their key off their desk to the upstairs bathroom so I could be in private, and not have to run as far. This also made me a lot less nervous because I wouldn't have to interupt the whole class w/ my hand up just to go to the bathroom, sometimes for the third time that class.
3.) Gym class. I was an athlete in high school. I could run 5 miles every afternoon. But I COULD NOT work out in the mornings due to my naseau and lack of food. In my high school gym was a requirement. If you missed a class you had to make it up. Problem for me, I also sang so I had choir instead of study hall and after school I had my sports practices. I had no time to make it up and the gym teacher wouldnt let me do extra miles in sports to credit gym class. Also, if you missed gym you weren't supposed to be allowed to partake in the after school sports. I also had an ovarian cyst at this time that we thought caused my issues. My doctor wrote a not that I could be sick in the morning and not in the afternoon and to let me go to practice/games. When I found out I was going to fail gym for missing too many classes I was nuts. I wouldnt be "held back" a year despite the fact I had super grades. I went to my principal and he said not to worry about it, he would take care of it. I ended up w/ a C in gym and moved on to the next year. Thanks principal.
4.) Field trips. I had to go to the bathroom after eating so eating on a field trip was always scary. School busses were also bad because they have no bathrooms and the whole school would have to wait if I needed to stop. I think a better plan would be to allow a kid w/ crohns to travel w/ their parent or one of the chaperones in a seperate car. That way if they need to leave or stop at any point they can.
5.) Assemblys. Any time I was in a large group I got really bad anxiety if I wasn't on the aisle seat. I felt like I wouldn't be able to sneak out if I needed to go to the bathroom. Make sure your student has access to an aisle seat whenever in groups.
6.) The nurses station. Generally, the nurse was great. However, they sometimes forget that throwing up and diarrhea are normal for us. Any time I would throw up, she would want to send me home. Sometimes throwing up made me feel better and all I needed was some mouth wash and to go back to class.
The bottom line is there are too many hard and fast rules in a school setting. It is necessary to manage mass chaos. But, when you know you have a sick student, bend the rules. Allow them what they need to feel better. This is a lot easier when the student is open about his/her disease and other students know why that student has "special privileges." However, if you see your student sipping a bottle of water, you can always just pretend you didn't see.
Thanks and let us know how things go!!