Medical things I brought to college. Nice ring to it, right? I started putting this list together around mid-June, when I realized just how much stuff I use in attempts to keep my chronic illnesses in check. Of course these tools would need to come with me to college if I want any chance at success! The more I thought about it, the more I noticed that these aren’t things people talk about in their college hauls, or what’s included on packing lists. They’re a part of the not so glamorous life of the chronically ill teenager. Today, I’m sharing everything I brought to college to manage my chronic illness!
To start I’d like to make one thing clear. This is a packing list, not a haul. A lot of these items I already owned before I started packing for university. That’s right, I’m daring to bring used items with me to college. And I’m daring to tell you about it! I feel as though there’s a whole stigma around talking about bringing things you already owned to college, but let’s be real: chronic illness isn’t cheap. Your girl is on a budget, and I’m not one to waste perfectly good things I already have at home! Some things I did need to buy, because I wouldn’t be able to take the one we had at home, like a heating pad. But I’ll tell you what I bought, what I already had, and where you can find everything listed below. With the exception of Peggy, of course. She’s my service dog and you can’t have her!
Everything I Brought to College to Manage my Chronic Illness
Heating pad – I ordered myself a new heating pad on Amazon Prime day. They have a wide selection available on Amazon, but you can also check out Target or Walmart for more options, or to purchase in store.
OTC pain relievers – While not something I use all the time it’s important that I have OTC pain relievers in case of injury, or to try to take the edge off if I experience a spike in pain. They’re also a part of my migraine cocktail. You can typically pick these up at a drug store, grocery store, or anywhere that sells “everything”.
Ice packs – Yes, you read that correctly. I am bringing multiple ice packs to college. Why? Usually when I experience joint pain it isn’t isolated to just one joint, and I don’t have (nor do I want) an ice pack that can cover both my hips and an ankle! Pharmacies tend to have awesome ice packs, but they can also be ordered online.
Hooty – Hooty was a gift to me last Christmas. I mentioned him in my Holiday Wellness Haul, but he’s a heat pack that you can heat up in the microwave! He also smells vaguely of lavender, which is calming. You can order a Hooty on Amazon!
Heated blanket – My mom got me a heated blanket from Kohl’s last winter and I sleep with it every night. It helps with body temperature dysregulation, which I experience courtesy of POTS.
Heat patches – I get mine at Walgreen’s and the last big pack I purchased is only about halfway gone, so it will be coming to college. I use heat patches that adhere to my clothing for on the go pain relief. My favorite brand is ThermaCare.
Lidocaine patches – I was advised to get these for joint pain by my rheumatologist.
Pill organizer – I spoke about my pill organizer in this post, and I absolutely love it. I got it over a year ago from Amazon, but they still have it here.
Pill bags – Pill bags are fabulous. I carry my boxes from my organizer with me everywhere, but if I have emergency meds or pain meds, they go in a pill bag! I usually keep a bag with an extra dose of mid day meds in whatever bag I’m carrying, just in case I ever am in a pinch and forget my pills.
Blood pressure cuff – Part of managing my POTS is making sure I don’t go to sleep with a dangerously low or high blood pressure. Due to the nature of some of my meds, I need to check my BP every night before I go to bed. My doctor recommended the brand OMRON, and I love mine. I’ve had it for nearly two years and have only had to replace the batteries once!
PT Thera Bands – I received Thera Bands from my physical therapist for various exercises. Going to college doesn’t mean my need for these exercises is eliminated, so they’re coming with me!
Kinesiology tape – I use kinesiology tape to help support my joints and alleviate pain. My personal preference is Rock Tape, since I have issues with other types not sticking to my skin. If you want to learn more about the use of kinesiology tape for hypermobility and joint subluxation, check out this blog post written by my good friend Niamh. Most athletic stores sell some sort of kinesiology tape, and I’ve seen it in Target, but you can also order from Amazon or directly from a company that makes it.
Cohesive athletic tape – I try not to use too much Rock Tape because it tends to create small tears in my skin (hypermobility problems *sigh*). If I’m trying to simply brace a joint such as my wrist or ankle, my physical therapist advised me to use cohesive athletic tape, because it adheres to itself and not your skin. I got mine from Walgreen’s, but it’s available at most stores that sell sports equipment, or pharmacies.
Prescriptions – Obviously by now you’ve realized I take medications to manage my illnesses, so my prescriptions would of course be coming with me! I’ve switched some of my prescriptions to mail order, which I’m lucky enough to have available to me via my insurance. The medications I have on mail order will come right to my university!
Supplements – I order most of my supplements from Amazon… to the point that all of my suggested Amazon dash buttons are for my supplements! But they are an important part of my daily routine, so they’re coming too.
Allegra – I gave some things their own category. I have horrid seasonal allergies, and take my OTC allergy medication year round (as directed by my doctor). If you take allergy medication, make sure you pack it!
Flonase – Flonase recently became OTC in the US and is part of how I manage my seasonal allergies. After all, your girl is allergic to grass! It helps keep my sinuses clear and you can bet I need it for college
Wheelchair – Basically, if you use a mobility device it’s probably coming with you. I am a part-time wheelchair user as I can’t manage walking long distances safely due to the severity of my POTS. I won’t be using it everyday, but that doesn’t mean I won’t be needing my wheelchair.
Wheelchair bag – I got this wheelchair bag from Amazon and it serves its purpose. There’s one small zipper pocket in the top and it closes with simple Velcro. It’s nothing fancy, but I can throw anything I need into it and hang it off my wheelchair.
Lumbar pillow – My lumber pillow was another Amazon Prime day purchase. The desk chairs at my university provide absolutely no support, and that’s one thing I really need. This sort of thing can be found at most drug stores as well.
Earplugs – With sound sensitivity comes the need to sometimes block out everything that’s going on. Enter: 40 decibel ear plugs. I like the kind that you roll up and actually put in your ear because I find them to be much more effective. I get mine at Walgreen’s
Sound dampeners – I have sound dampeners and noise cancelling headphones. Why bring both? I don’t care if something happens to my sound dampeners. They can be easily replaced. I’ll carry them with me when I may need to block sound but don’t necessarily want to be walking around with nice headphones. They’re nowhere near as inconspicuous as earplugs, but sometimes when extra sound disruption is needed, I’ll put these on while I have my earplugs in. These can be found at hardware stores and on Amazon.
Noise cancelling headphones – Over the summer I went to Best Buy on the hunt for a computer… and I left with these headphones. Not my intended purchase, but definitely a worthwhile one. I love these headphones, and I can use them to cancel all background noise, play ambient sound and cancel all other noise, or play music and cancel all background noise. When my headaches are growing worse or I feel a migraine coming on but am forced to be around others, these headphones are my go to.
Compression clothing – For me, POTS comes with blood pooling and syncope. While not all patients experience this, I do, and one thing that I’ve found to be really helpful is compression. Ordering compression socks from Amazon has been pretty hit and miss for me, but my favorite pair to date is linked here.
Safe – As seen above, I have a lot of medications. To keep them secure and out of the way, I decided to get a safe. After price checking Amazon, we decided to order one from my university… somehow the next day a safe showed up on our front porch! Turns out, we somehow bought one of the safes we had been looking at on Amazon. The prices were comparable so we decided to keep the safe and cancel the order with my university. They refunded me and were great about it all, and in the end I have a great safe that fits all of my medications and supplements, as well as my important documents I want to keep track of.
Peggy, my service dog! If you want to learn more about the work Peggy does, read this post. She came to college with me, and so did all of her gear.
Wow, that was quite a list!
This is everything I brought with me to school at move in, that was directly to help manage my chronic illness. There are of course some other things I’ve picked up in the month I’ve been here to help make things easier, or things that I would have brought regardless of my health that happen to also help me, but those things are for another day and another post. If you know someone with a chronic illness who’s planning on heading off to college, or thinking about it, be sure to share this with them! They’ll love that you’re supporting their goals.
Until next time.