Striving to succeed at UVU while living with a disability

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Being a student with a disability means that even when my hip dislocates at 4:00 in the morning, I still have to go to 8:30 a.m. class.

For most of my life I’ve heard friends, family members and even doctors tell me that I didn’t look sick and that all the test results were normal. Now, for everyone but me, after every doctor’s appointment, hearing that I was perfectly healthy was exciting news. For me, it began to eat away at who I was and what I was capable of.

Just because someone doesn’t look like they have a disability, doesn’t mean that they don’t have one. I don’t typically talk about having a disability but Disability Awareness Week seemed like as good a time as any to come out and talk about it.

In March of this year I was diagnosed with Ehlers Danlos Syndrome. Never heard of it? Neither had I. It is often referred to as the “invisible disability.” In fact, most people I interact with have no idea I have it.

There are six different types of EDS. I experience the hypermobility version. Basically, my joints pop out, all day, everyday. My hips, knees, ribs, shoulder, wrists, jaw, etc. pop out on a regular basis. They don’t typically fully dislocate but do what is called “subluxing” which is a partial dislocation. I have lived with it forever, so it’s all I’ve ever known, but it still is a battle.

Being a nontraditional college student while balancing a 22-credit school schedule with a 25-30 hours per work week is a lot to handle for most people. However, doing it in constant pain and lethargy throws in extreme curve balls.??“Be kind for everyone you meet is fighting a hard battle,” is a saying that is constantly running through my head. Students at UVU live with multiple struggles and disabilities. Some are apparent. Some are not. Disability Awareness Week is a good reminder for all of us to look outside ourselves and think about someone other than ourselves.

UVU Accessibility Services offers many resources for those with both intellectual and physical disabilities. It’s such a great tool for those of us who are reluctant to ask for help or to readily admit we have a disability because we don’t want to be different.

I do not struggle with a disability. I am not my disability. Daily, I live to overcome and succeed with a challenge not given to many others. Some days are harder than others but that is the same for everyone. But, we are here and we aren’t any different than the typical student, except we have to work a little bit harder sometimes.

We all have struggles but next time you see someone with a disability, reach out and give them a high five and tell them they are great.