Going To College With Reflux: The First Year

Jenna Health Guide

    Senior year of high school came and went faster than I could have imagined. Summer flew by and before I knew it, I had one more week at home before I packed up and moved 500 miles north to go to college. My first move, first time in the “real world” and first time away from my mom were all right around the corner.


    I was about to jump out of my skin with excitement. Even the kids without overprotective parents can’t wait to get out and on their own, believe it or not. So the whole packing process began. Four duffel bags, two plastic bins, two laundry baskets, one snowboard and 24 hours later, I was ready. Since I do have an older sister, we know the routine. I was given a lot of advice between my mom and sister but when it came down to it, they emphasized two things.

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    #1: Bring an extra set of sheets, nothing white.

    #2: Have a full stock of OTC medicine.


    The rule where you toss something you don’t use for at least a year doesn’t apply to the first aid supply. They said bring it all, because you never know what’s coming. Two days later I finally got to my dorm room—a built up triple. So what were they talking about when they said to bring all those bottles of pills? It was just wasted space in a room that was barely big enough to move around in.


    I thought figuring out how to stash all of my things would be the biggest challenge. Turns out, I had lots more to come! With every college experience comes a dining hall, for which every school has their own horror stories. The presence of dietary restrictions is highlighted by dining hall food because those ingredients, for example gluten or lactose have to be marked. Looking around, I became alarmingly aware of just how many hidden ingredients are in that food. My “safe haven” became the salad bar but I also benefited a lot from looking up the menu online so I could plan what may or may not be good for me. Stir fry also was a great option for me because it is so much self serve.


    Just when I thought I had a handle on it, I realized how tired I was. Even with a good night sleep, I wake up early for practice and spend a fair bit of time in the library which isn’t always the most exciting way to stay awake. I promised myself I’d never come to rely on coffee, but after a few weeks I had to resort to it. I learned pretty quickly to like coffee. Being lactose free I drink it black which has probably helped my reflux as well, limiting the fat and sugar intake found in creamers. For me it was a better option than caffeinated drinks with carbonation because they gave me more symptoms.


    Feeling good definitely makes focusing on school easier. Having those seemingly excess amounts of medicines have actually proven useful to me, and the rest of my friends who come running down the hall when they have their own emergencies. 


Published On: August 24, 2010