One thing I see a lot of discussions about within the chronic illness community with people my age is how to survive school with their illnesses. Even within my group chats, it's a conversation we have a lot. As many of you know, I just graduated college and m currently in nursing school. One of the things I say almost every time this discussion comes up is that if I did not go to a small college and eventually get accommodations, I would have had to drop out while I figured out what was going on/when I was at my sickest.
During my freshman year of college, I got sick and did not get a diagnosis until my second semester of sophomore year. I came out of freshman year with a 2.0 GPA because I missed so much class due to feeling ill or doctors appointments. If it were not for the fact I went to a small school with small class sizes, where the professors got to know me, I would have had to drop out or probably failed out. I was fortunate that they allowed me to make up work and take tests on different days due to illness, even without doctors' excuses. However, my attendance grade suffered on top of my actual grades in some classes. I tried to seek accommodations from student services at this time, but since I had no diagnosis, there was nothing they could do.
I got my official diagnosis in February of 2020, during the second semester of my sophomore year. Covid hit while I was trying to go through the accommodations process, so I did not have accommodations until my junior year. At first, my only accommodation was getting my temp checks in a different location than the rest of the student body, but then I started talking with other people in the chronic illness community about their accommodations. After emailing student services back and forth, getting doctors' notes/proof of illness, etc. I got accommodations to miss class when sick and not need a doctors' note (I just had to email the professor), extra time to turn in assignments (as long as I communicated with the professor prior to the due date), and using the bathroom whenever I needed (which in college you can do anyways.)
These accommodations helped, but I was the one who had to deliver the letter from student services to all of my professors during the first week of the semester. Every year, I had to go through the accommodations process again with a new letter from my doctor. I was not seen as "ill enough" or handicapped enough" for special housing/to have my own bathroom and had to use community bathrooms. This made bad nausea days rougher and embarrassing, as well as times when I had to do stool samples harder than they should have been.
Overall, I am thankful I got the accommodations I had, but I feel like there was a lot more that could have been done to help make my college experience a little easier while living with different chronic illnesses, but nobody understood what I was going through, so they deemed what was necessary and fit for me to succeed.