The “D” Word (Disabled) Part 1

The recent increase in pain as a result of the extreme weather changes finally drove me to do something that I’ve put off for four semesters: I went to my college’s disabilities office.   I know I should have done this from the get go, but I just couldn’t bring myself to pick up the phone and call them.  Of course, I’m kicking myself for it now.  I need note takers badly, and if I had already gone through the necessary procedures then my wrist and bum thumb wouldn’t be suffering during my Civilization and German classes.

Here’s a basic run-down of my meeting with the disabilities office:  I filled out some paperwork asking for a little general information, what my condition was, if it was chronic, etc., and what sort of help I was looking to get out of the program.  After filling that out, I talked with an employee about my RA and how it was hindering my college career.  After our conversation, it seems I will not only be eligible for note takers, but possibly some special accommodations for my morning class and the PE requirement I will *eventually* have to have (I may even be exempt from this requirement).  This would be a HUGE help.

Towards the end of the meeting, I was given a couple pamphlets explaining what the program could do, and the documentation process.  According to the pamphlets, this documentation should include:

  • diagnostic statements identifying the disability
  • date of the current diagnostic evaluation and date of orignial diagnosis
  • description of the current functional impact of the disability
  • treatments, medications and assistive devices/services
  • description of the expected progression and/or stability of the impact of the disability over time
  • the dianosing professional’s credentials
  • Any additional information to support and identify the need for requested academic accommodations

A little overwhelming, to say the least.  But the disabilities office has made it easy to obtain this information by providing the paper work your doctor needs to fill out, all you have to do is send it to them with the fax number or address of the disabilities office.

I’ve already faxed the information to my rheumatologist.  When the disabilities office receives the documents, they will look over them and decide whether or not I am eligible for the program.  This sounds kinda scary, but I made sure to show the employee I talked to the swelling in my joints and she seemed very understanding of my situation, so I’m not too worried at this time.

Now that I’ve started the process, I don’t even remember what kept me from marching through their doors in the first place.  Was it fear?  Not really.  What would they say?  No?  I wouldn’t have lost anything.  Was it pride?  No.  I’ve never had a problem with asking for help before.

Most of us with RA don’t look like we’re sick.  For the majority of us, a stranger would have no way of knowing that we were suffering from a serious, chronic disease.  I think this is what kept me from going to the disabilities office years ago.  No, I wasn’t worried that they would look at me and think I didn’t need help.  It’s because when I look at myself in the mirror, I don’t see a disabled person.  I see a healthy teenager.  I didn’t (and still don’t) feel like a disabled person at all.  It’s kind of a brain teaser, when you think about it.

Regardless, we have to listen to what our bodies tell us, and my hands are screaming for salvation.  If I were to go on without asking for help from the center, I think my grades would definitely suffer for it.  I strongly recommend any college student with RA or a disease similar to RA to check out your campus disabilities office.  Even if you aren’t in the middle of a flare, you never know when you will be.

Stay healthy!

Check out the My Bum Thumb facebook page here.


1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Trackback: The “D” Word (Disabled) Part 2 « My Bum Thumb

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