Top 5 grad school tips when you have a chronic illness

July 11, 2017

If you are currently in graduate school or have finished that part of your life, you might have an idea that it is no joke.

I think the part that makes it so hard is not only being a full time student, but also working full time. For people with a chronic illness, Grad school is about 10 times more challenging. Open Heart Surgery is such a grueling surgery that can affect you for the rest of your life. There are days where you might feel great, but then have days where you can’t remember some things or your body is not cooperating when you need it too. But, that’s life for someone with CHD(congenital heart defect).

Today, I’m sharing the tips I’ve learned and used over my last year of being a full time grad student and substitute teacher with a congenital heart defect.

Here are my top 5 grad school tips:

  1. Do not pull all nighters. The last thing we need is to lose more sleep. Try and make a sleep schedule. Put all electronics away and get to bed at a descent time. Losing sleep only puts more strain on our bodies which for anyone with a chronic illness is a big no no.
  2. Try to get ahead on assignments as much as you can. That way, if a bad health day comes up, you can rest your body instead of making it worse while stressing to get assignments finished.
  3. Have a water bottle and snacks on hand. While taking specific medications, it’s so important to always carry a water bottle and snacks for night class or study sessions. Sometimes, if you’re rushing to class from a long day of work and need to take your meds, you will at least have a snack to hold you over till a good meal. Who wants to take their meds on an empty stomach? Um, no thank you.
  4. Invest in a Laptop foldable and adjustable standing desk .  I love this one from Amazon. This was a no brainer for me as I’ve struggled with back, neck and shoulder issues post surgery. Last thing I wanted to do was cause more problems.
  5. Make time for some FUN! We have been through so much between open heart surgeries, recoveries and simply tough situations. So, while you may need or want to attain that master’s degree, don’t forget to have fun and spend time with your loved ones. We know too well how life can take a drastic turn and could all be gone tomorrow.

For me, these tips have been life saving both physically and mentally. If you have a chronic illness while trying to pursue concrete goals in life, keep going, but don’t forget to take care of yourself. I’m here cheering you on fellow grad students and chronic illness survivors.



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  • Reply Catherine July 11, 2017 at 1:09 AM

    Excellent post with great and useful tips!!!

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