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Can't Decide If I Should Register With My Campus Disability Services


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Hi everyone,

I'm doing pretty well write now, and I am going to be starting graduate school in the Fall.

Last time I was in school - five years ago - I had POTS but did not have a diagnosis. I had difficulty keeping up with my work load and had to ask for a lot of extensions.

Since that time, my symptoms have improved, mostly because I have learned my limits and I manage my life in a way that supports my health instead of hinders it. Right now I work part-time, about 20 hours a week. I find it challenging, but still manageable. I do better when I am working closer to 15 hours a week.

In graduate school, I will be taking two two-hour classes a week, and working about ten hours a week (so about 15 hours a week of commitments). I actually think this schedule will be easier than what I'm doing now, because the work will be more seated than it is now. I chose this schedule because I believe I can keep up with it, and that I won't need to ask for extensions, etc.

I can't decide if I should register with the disability services on my campus. The guidelines say I should only register if I believe my chronic illness will interfere with my ability to do my work - I don't think it will. They also said that I only should register if I need specific accommodations. I don't think I will need any, except that I will need to bring water with me to class - but I can't imagine the professor would care about that. I also get the sense that, since it is graduate school, if I were to need an extension it really wouldn't be a problem. Part of me thinks that I really don't need to register.

For those of you who have been in school while dealing with POTS, what do you recommend? I do worry that if I were to "crash" and have a bad spell, I would have to deal with registering then (requires a lot of doctors' forms, etc) and that maybe it's just better to file everything now, just in case. But then I hate the idea of registering with disability services if I don't really need to.

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I didn't register during my first year, but then I ended up needed to leave school for several semesters b/c of my health--totally not anticipated. In order to protect myself from being kicked out for not completing my entire degree in the alloted time, I registered with them. At first, I think they thought there was nothing wrong with me, but as the woman who did my intake finally started learning about my disorder, she was then like "wow, it's amazing you're able to work too". My suggestion: Do it. Even if you don't need to use the benefits, like extra time on tests/papers, you just never know.

Nina

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Do it. You say working ten hours a week- I'm assuming that means part-time paid employment, in addition to academic work? I found my Master's really gruelling. We had fewer than ten hours a week of classes but were expected to spend at least 40 hours a week reading and researching, and to treat grad school like a dull time job. I'm doing a PhD now and have no formal regular class commitments. However I still regularly work a 60 hour week or more to keep momentum. It takes a lot out of me when my ans is bad. I'd say you can't anticipate how tough grad school is. My undergrad degree was a walk in the park compared to the volume and level of work I am expected to handle now. Register while you're well because the last thing you want when feeling rough is a load of irritating paper work to deal with. Take it from one who knows!

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I fully agree with Nina & Persephone. Plan for the worst, then you're ready if something happens (when you're too weak to advocate for yourself.) I lived in a small condo during graduate school and had my office in a closet. It was hard work- felt like I rarely came out of the closet for two years :rolleyes: . I'm so proud of you for going for it with your illness!

All the best-

Julie

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Hey Jump-

I'm about to finish up my undergraduate studies this May, and I registered with disability services in the fall, despite the fact that I had been pretty stable for a few months. Come October I had the worst flare up of symptoms I've ever experienced (I'm frankly amazed I was able to stay in school). I am SO glad I had already gotten those papers in order and established all of that with disability services in advance...I didn't need one more thing to worry about! I would highly recommend you just go ahead and do it. Good luck in school!

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Guest tearose

You have great advise here. I too believe you should register. If a relapse happens you won't have the energy to deal with all the paperwork. You can use the energy then to recover.

Sometimes I get "stuck" with the label of "disability" because I/we are more than our disability. BUT, in terms of the "regular-able" world, we do have physical challenges that effect our daily life in extreme ways. We cannot predict a relapse but we can do our best to avoid them and plan on how to survive them. Setting this disability service up for the future in the event you need it is just "good planning" and very "reasonable and smart"!

That being said, do stay strong!

tearose

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Hi

I vote for registering. I actually just talked my D about that after 5 years homebound (8-12th grade), she is finishing her Bachelors and going on for her PhD. She doesn't use her accommodations often - but sometimes she needs more time. Also, she can't know how she will respond to her new, intense schedule. Overall she is doing well with her bucket of drugs but she is not "normal" (Fortunately she agreed with me)

Louise

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just do it.

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Thanks guys! Everyone makes good points, so I'm going to take your advice.

I am surprised at how, even after several years of dealing with this, I still have a great fear of appearing to be "making a mountain out of a molehill" or of appearing to be self-pitying by acknowledging that this illness does affect me in significant ways.

I do have a tendency to dismiss my own challenges, with a kind of, "well, it could be a lot worse" sort of mentality.

This community really helps me! Thanks so much.

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I second everyone else's advice. I also recommend brainstorming specific recommendations that would be helpful. Generally, the disability offices like things to be concrete-- like amounts of time to spend on tests, ability to use a laptop, etc. Much of that may not apply, but still. I'm sort of on the other side-- faculty at a university. It's pretty much up to me to accommodate myself, but I do let my higher ups know my general limitations, and about major flares. At the end of the day, I have to cover my classes, even when I feel lousy. I've been able to this year, but it's been hard at times. I always teach in 40-50 level stockings, to minimize my potsiness.

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