We are two college students (and a service dog) with a host of medical problems. Medical journals say one thing, but we say something else. Lets be real, we are much more interesting and will tell you not to let anything hold you back,
live your life the way YOU want!!!
We are both college students, and in
college we have had both good and bad professors. Some professors are
amazing, while others make you want to hide in your room and never leave your
bed. Sadly, we have had a few of those in the later category. We
decided today to discuss some memorable quotes from professors in both of those
categories. We are not doing this to be cruel, and we are not including
any names, or descriptions. We are doing this to show how tough college
can be for those with chronic illnesses.
These are some things that were said
to us over the past few years. While not all sound rude, or insensitive
at first, the meaning behind them are not great.
“It’s so nice that everybody here [in this class] is
The first thing you have to know about our class
is that multiple people have accommodations and I (Nemo) bring a service dog to
class. We are not the only ones with accommodations, or medical problems
in our class. Secondly, you cannot go around making assumptions about
anyone, or any group of people. Some disabilities, or illnesses are
invisible. Not everyone who is dealing with something is registered with
“Does anybody here have oxygen below 96,” “I do, it is always like
that though” “Oh, well those people need extra help”
This occured during a
lab where we were learning how to take vital signs. When sharing our
results, this was said to the entire class.
“Why don’t you stand up and tell everybody what it is like to be disabled”
If we are being honest here, I’m not
sure this is legal. I mean, confidentiality is a thing, and it is pretty
important. Also, you can’t go around calling out people in class,
especially about their medical history. Also, not everyone is willing to
share their life story, and especially not in front of the class.
“Here are your accommodations, but it is up to your teacher if
they want to accept them”
If it is up to the
teacher to accept them than it really isn’t an accomodation, it is begging the
teacher and hoping for some mercy and acceptance. While this model may work in
a school that is disability friendly but our school is now. This makes it okay
for many teachers to decide they do not want to be bothered by accomodations
and that you will be fine without them. Similarly, to get accomodations from a
lot of teachers you have to tell them all of your diagnosis and how it affects
you to see if they deem you sick enough. This is again, not legal, teachers are
not allowed to ask about what your disability is. While you don’t have to
answer, if you don’t answer at this school you will get no accommodations.
“You can’t use your accommodations to skip class and not turn in
accommodations are not so I can sleep in, and not turn in papers. It’s so
I can be covered incase I am hospitalized all of a sudden, or incase a
treatment runs over. I do not want my grade to drop if I am too sick to
come to class. I am doing my best to attend class, I do not want to be
penalized if I cannot. Also, if I do happen to miss class, there is a
very good reason. I am mostly in the hospital, or should be in the
“I wish I could bring my pet to class”
All I have to say to
respond is really. This isn’t just a pet. This is a dog that allows
me to be able to be a functioning human being. He does skills that are
needed, because I am not always able to do them on my own. He isn’t just
a cute, and furry friend that I get to take around to school. He is someone
that I need to survive.
“You are so good at advocating for your needs”
You have to be at this school or you get
“This is the first dog on campus, you are going to make it easier
for students in the future”
That is great but who is going to make it easier
“Sorry, all of our medical singles are on the second or third
floor of a [very old] building with no elevator”
Not only is this completely inappropriate, but I
am not super sure if it is legal.
“You are too sick to graduate, you should change your degree
before you fail out, be smart”
This was said by the head of the
Occupational Therapy department, she was also my advisor so I had nowhere to
turn to. I just had to sit and listen to her tell me that Im to sick for 20
minutes .This was not based on any logic as I am at the top of my class, this
was pure bias and proof that the school does not like students with
disabilities. It is very hard to not feel accepted when you are trying so hard.
These are some things that have been
said that are simply amazing. They are from professors who are truly on
our side, and stick up for us. Without them, we would not be here, and we
would not have a chance of getting a degree.
“Oh, you have trouble lifting, that’s fine, let me think about how
to modify your skill check and I’ll get back to you”
This is HUGE. Skill checks are
pass/fail, and our professor could have easily said something along the lines
of if you can’t lift, you won’t pass. However, she went above and beyond
to make sure that it was possible for everyone to pass. As she simply put
it, you know your own limits, and you will not get a job that you are unable to
“Why don’t you just type your essay exam and email it to me, I
trust you not to cheat”
We have exams that are ten pages of
writing, and I was asked if writing is hard for me because I always bring my
computer to class, and I said it was so the teacher asked if it would be easier
to just type the exam. This was not an official accommodation so this was going
above and beyond.
“Just have Tremors Skype you into class”
This can apply to either of us, however, it was
said to me (Nemo). I am sometimes in the hospital randomly or just feeling way
too sick to go to class. This professor said that if I am unable to come to
class Tremors can just pull me up on her computer and that way I can listen to
the lecture from bed. This is again way above any accomodation.
“Just tell me what you need during the semester, and I will do my
absolute best to accommodate and work with you”
This statement is important on
several different levels. Firstly, the teacher is accepting that they don’t
fully understand what I need because my disabilities are rare. That is
completely fine, I don’t always know what I will need. Most importantly, the
teacher said that they are on my side which here is very rare.
“What are your physical limitations, we can put you in a fieldwork
site that will work with you, and we are always here for you as well, we will
figure this out to make sure that you graduate”
Fieldwork is required in order to
graduate, and fieldwork accomodations do not exist. If I was at a site that was
not accommodating (for example running up and down the stairs all day) I would
physically not be able to stay. This would mean that I would automatically fail
out of the program, and have to pick a new major. These professors understand
that there are different work settings so as long as the fieldwork sites have
accomodations, I will be fine once I graduate.
“You basically have a full time job, or live a double life taking
care of your medical issues”
Taking care of our health is a full
time job, because it is so time consuming. Between dealing with doctors,
clinics, and insurance to name a few, we are drowning in emails. We are
trying to keep ourselves healthy, and alive while surviving an accelerated
college program. Also we do live a double life, because they have no idea
we are bloggers. They know that we are big on advocacy, but they have no
idea we created this. And on a side note, if this professor ever happens
to find this, we both say hi, and think that you are amazing.
College isn’t easy for anyone.
As always, chronic illnesses are things that never fail to make life (at
least) 10x harder. We are working incredibly hard to be able to graduate,
and have a future. All we want to be able to do is live our lives, and
have a future. Some professors make life more difficult, but some are
**If you want to watch the show The Good
Place, do not read this blog post as there are spoilers throughout the post.**
been watching The Good Place on Netflix and have realized that you really don’t
need to die to experience the phenomenon in this show, it is all around us.
Everyone has heard the saying that college is the best 4 years of your
life. Let’s just say that we don’t agree with this statement. The person
that came up with college is the best four years of your life was not trying to
get through an accelerated medical program while managing multiple
tour a college and look at a school they talk about the opportunities found on
campus. There are many degrees, beautiful buildings, and organizations for
students to engage in and become well rounded leaders. Similarly, the brochure
is diverse and always shows students studying on a sunny lawn. I have never
once seen a student studying on the lawn at this school (I have seen people
sleeping, and watching Netflix, but never studying). Similarly, the website
talks about all the wonderful accommodations that are available for students
with disabilities. The reality is that there is one person in the disability
office, there is no wheelchair accessible single room, and even if there was a
wheelchair accessible single that student would not be able to get to any of
the classrooms. That is NOWHERE on the school’s website. They show images of
students smiling in while having a discussion with a professor who is smiling
next to them. It’s not all smiles when you are called in to a professor’s
office to talk about your grades, or what was wrong with your paper. More
often than not, when a student is called to talk to a professor they are
terrified. Also, the dining hall food looks amazing online, and during the
tours you think it is amazing. In reality, we are eating the same 3
mediocre meals, and let me tell you it gets old really fast.
campus is beautiful, there is no denying that. This is why we call our school
the fake good place. In a picture when everybody is on the lawn or walking to
class they all look happy, but that is not the case. When you start talking to
people in the pictures you find out their story. You are likely to hear things
“I am exhausted, I only got four hours of sleep last night”
“I am behind on my homework because I have a full time job to help
pay for school”
“I am close to failing my class”
“I don’t have time to go to a study group because I commute two
hours a day because I can’t afford to live on campus”
“The professor doesn’t understand that I am trying”
“I am too ashamed to ask for help, the professor thinks this
material is easy, and my classmates understand it”
“I am never going to be able to get a job”
“How am I going to pay back my student loans?”
The list goes on and on
you have seen the show The Good Place, you know that there is something few
know about the neighborhood. While is looks sunny, and happy, it is
actually something else entirely. It is The Bad Place in disguise, where
everything beautiful causes the residents pain and suffering. While you
may now be thinking we are overly dramatic for comparing our college campus to
essentially hell, we would like to show some similarities.
1.Students are told that everyone is supported in their learning,
however, students are constantly academically put against each other for things
like graduation cords, honors society, and even a spot to remain in the
2.Students are told that being different is okay, but are failed
immediately if they are not good at taking multiple choice tests, or cannot do
an essay exam.
3.Students are told that it is okay to have a disability, but if a
student is in a wheelchair they can not get anywhere on campus. Forget
going to certain floors of the building, or visiting friends in the dorms, but
technically they are welcome so this is all forgivable in the eyes of the
4.Students are told that their dorm room is going to be amazing, but
in reality it is a small room with a broken heater, a leaky sink, and stained
curtains. Forget being able to use the bathroom when you want, because
the people you share with are always in there.
5.Students are told that it is important to find a balance and space
out their studying, yet teachers do things like put three midterms all on the
same day. Forget balance, when you have to save your GPA. That is when students
chug coffee, stay up all night, and in some cases even abuse drugs like
adderall. This is because we are told our grades are the most important thing
in the world.
6.Students are ranked by GPA and rewarded when they are at the top,
but the reality is that the students on the top have anxiety disorders and go
to great lengths to be the best because they think if they get a C the sky will
fall. This encourages dangerous habits, and in reality leads in to why college
students have such a high rate of mental illness. While teachers say anxiety is
bad, their actions are rewarding the students willing to abuse their bodies to
succeed in school.
7.Students are told it is okay to make mistakes, but when they do
make mistakes they get punished. For example, many college students drink
before they are 21. On some college campuses there is a get home safe rule
where students are given amnesty for being drunk as long as they get home safe.
This is to encourage students to talk to authority if they friend needs medical
attention and to try and prevent assault. At this campus if a student is drunk
before they are 21 they have to face the conduct board get written up, and can
face further punishment. This leads students to try to hide their friends when
they are drunk, even if their friend needs immediate medical attention. This is
dangerous because students can die from alcohol poisoning because they were to
afraid to get in trouble with the school
college looks all happy, in reality there is something darker underlying.
We immediately started drawing comparisons between the “fake” Good Place,
and our campus. This is because as students we are oftentimes not told
the whole truth, both when applying and after we get in. I (Nemo) was so
excited to go to college, but the stress and competition has made me much
sicker than I could have ever imagined. At first, we both believed that
we were in this happy, and exciting place, however overtime we discovered that
it was all a facade. What we thought was something great, and amazing,
was actually the opposite. Now, you may not be in college, but the idea
is universal. There might be something, or somewhere that you think is
much more evil than it looks, but no one else sees it. Know that you are
not alone. Also, if we are still talking about the show, if we have to be
in the fake good place, can we please get a Good Janet here, because that would
definitely be a appreciated.
Having a service dog live in the dorm is something that has NEVER happened on our college campus before. As one professor stated, Nemo is the “trailblazer,” but being the trailblazer can come at a cost. One cost is that almost everybody in the dorm is afraid to ask about the dog because they think it is a hostage situation and that I am hiding him from the RAs. If that were true I would be doing a TERRIBLE job. My door has a picture of the dog as well as a beware of my friendly dog sign. Similarly, the first thing I did when moving into the dorm was introduce the dog to both RA’s. He got his own name tag (Thanks RAs). Similarly, I take him to every class so every teacher (I have) also knows that he is on campus.
Items you need to successfully keep a dog in your dorm room.
A crate - Sometimes you just have to. For example, if I have to go to fieldwork, I need a place to leave him. Also, it gives him a place to call his own. Now, he doesn’t sleep in there, but it still is a place that he enjoys hanging out in from time to time.
Make sure that people know there is a dog in the room - In this case, there is a sign, picture, and name tag stating that there is a dog in the room. Also, he was introduced during the hall meeting, so people knew that he was allowed to be there. If people know that there is a dog in the room, people know that a bark is normal. Also, they tend to be a little bit quieter than they are in other areas of the hall, because they know that a large dog (with an even bigger bark) lives there.
A toy to fill with peanut butter or another treat that your dog loves - This is very important for when you have a lot of homework or want to leave your dog in the crate in the room alone.
Have a room that gives your dog space to move, or have his own space - Your service dog needs space. If your room is too small, they will not have room to move, and be a dog. Not saying that they need room to sprint, but enough so they are not cooped up when they are home.
Dog bones - Your service dog needs a treat too at the end of the day. This can keep him/her busy when you are doing homework, or even provide them some entertainment. Just make sure that they know the limits of
Dog food and bowls - This one is pretty straight forward, dogs are alive and therefore eating and drinking is a must if you want your new dorm friend to stay alive.
7. Interactive Toys - These are important for when you have a lot of homework and don't have time to spend with the dog. This can be any toy that your dog can entertain themselves with for a substantial amount of time. It is different for each dog. For secret agent puppy he has prefilled bones which he will chew on for hours. I personally get the filled Redbarn bones as he can not break the bone and will spend hours on end trying to get the filling out. Similarly they come pre-filled which makes my life much easier.
8. Dog bed - While secret agent puppy is needy (and by needy, I mean he wants love 24/7) and thinks he is to good for a dog bed it is important that he has a place to be alone. This is a place where he can chew on his bone as they are not allowed in my bed. By no means does he sleep here because again he is very needy but for a normal dog this would be a great place for them to sleep.
9.Service Dog Gear - Everybody loves to see a dog on campus, however, when he is working he needs to be focused on me. A vest or his mobility harness is very important because it shows that he is working and therefore is not here for being a pet.
10. Friends - While this is not in your room, it is very important to have supportive friends who you trust to watch your dog. Sometimes you need to leave your dog even if it is just for 2 minutes. When I have to leave my dog to do something like run out of the classroom I always leave him with Tremors.
While I love my dog very much and it is really nice to have him living on campus it does take a lot of work. Just like with anything else you get out what you put in, and being prepared will make having a dog in your dorm much easier. There is not always a lot of room in a dorm so it is important to have toys that can be used in a small space but still require a lot of mental energy.
For all of you out there being a trailblazer, with or without a service dog
WE BELIEVE IN YOU! -Nemo, Tremors and Secret Agent Puppy