There are a few universal truths about college:
1. You’re going to ditch at least one class at some point to binge watch Netflix.
2. Dating someone who lives on your floor is a really bad idea unless you start dating near the end of the year.
3. No one wants to hear about chronic stomach problems.
But for some of us, that last thing is a daily part of our lives. Especially in a high-stress environment like college, having chronic stomach problems is a major inconvenience to say the least, potentially impacting everything from hanging out with friends to completing homework and attending classes.
And while people don’t like to talk about it, there are many things those of us living with chronic stomach problems understand:
1. Cursing your school for not having enough bathrooms.
Seriously, who designed these places? In some buildings at my school, the women’s bathrooms are on the odd floors (including in one building where some of the odd floors mysteriously don’t exist), and in others, the bathrooms exist but are so hidden you’ll get lost in a maze of hallways lined with empty metal lockers and wonder if you’re in some kind of middle school flashback gone wrong.
It’s astounding how many times I’ve had to shout the words, “Yes, I still need Prevacid, just like last month and the month before and the month before that and the month before that.”
3. Trying to make things like “irritable bowel syndrome” sound less gross in conversations.
FYI, in case this wasn’t clear, talking about this doesn’t make a great date conversation. Why couldn’t they name it something without the word “bowel” in it? Come on, people…
4. Trying to get absences excused for pain you can’t prove exists and finally giving up and pretending you have a family emergency.
There’s something seriously wrong when faking the death of non-existent family members is easier to get an excused absence for than stomach pain. My academic adviser probably thinks my family is cursed at this point.
5. Watching episodes of House to feel like there’s a cure out there somewhere.
Of course, this also comes with the added bonus of being thankful your doctor isn’t as much of a jerk as Dr. House is.
6. Being scared you won’t be able to continue your education.
This might sound overdramatic, but there are days when you’ve probably wondered if you’ll be able to finish assignments or go to class, or if you should just pack up and resign yourself to curling up in bed for the rest of the year.
7. Becoming everyone’s go-to person any time their stomach hurts for any reason.
You’ve probably explained to at least one person that alcohol damages stomach lining and that doesn’t mean they’re entitled to your Prevacid/Zantac/other stomach medication every Saturday morning. (Sometimes, I worry people think I’m a drug dealer.)
8. Knowing things go up and down but enjoying the pain-free days and pushing through the pain-filled days.
College is a roller coaster, and stomach problems certainly don’t help, but they make the days you can enjoy -- the ones where you don’t think about your body and can just live in the moment -- that much more fun.