By Madeleine Darowiche
So you’ve made it. You got into a great college and started either this past fall or are starting this winter semester, are all moved in to your dorm, and you are ready and eager to venture out on your own. But wait! The time eventually comes when you realize, My parents have left and, wow, I’m all alone now. What do you do? Don’t worry! You will get through it!
Adjusting to being on your OWN
First, I would just like to say that you might not have a difficult time adjusting to being away from home, which is definitely awesome! Keep up that attitude!
If you do experience homesickness, as I did, that’s okay, too. It is definitely normal. Despite the fact that I started in the summer, adjusting to the fall semester was a whole other process in and of itself. The fall semester was a longer period of time – summer session was only six weeks. I definitely had a difficult time adjusting. Honestly, I called home more times in a day than you’d ever know. My parents visited twice during the first two months of fall semester. Then the last two months flew by because I came home for the first time at the beginning of November for the South Florida WALK (I was not going to miss that for the world!), and then I was home again for Thanksgiving. A week and a half after that it was already time for winter break.
So, to answer the question; is it tough? Oh yes it is! Of course you’re going to miss your family. That’s almost always a given. But I promise it does get easier! I know when you first start it can seem impossible, but it does takes time. Also, don’t be ashamed if you have to call home a lot in the beginning, even if you aren’t really that far from home. So many students have to! It’s normal. One thing that may help is to have lots of pictures of your family around your room to make you feel more at home. Homesickness can be overcome. Once you get busy with classes and other things, it will probably make it harder to miss home because you will not have as much idle time. So keep busy, it will help!
Your Hydrocephalus PLAN
Now, an issue so many of us can relate to: what happens in case of shunt failure or any other hydrocephalus-related issue? In my case, I have been very fortunate when it comes to shunt revisions. I have only had six, and each was before I turned three with the exception of my most recent one at eleven years old. To be honest I have a very simple plan in place because of how light my history has been. For example, with my last revision, things came on rather gradually. I had experienced headaches for a while. Then one day it was just worse than the others. I had trouble staying awake and I had no appetite at all. Should the need for a revision arise again while I am in college, I anticipate the malfunction symptoms to be the same. At eleven, because I had never experienced a malfunction that I could remember, I didn’t really know that all those headaches were signs. But now, I know that if I experience frequent headaches for days, most likely something is wrong.
My plan? What I would probably do is notify my parents and then they would fly me home. I’d be back home rather quickly, as I am only four hours by car, so that I could go to my regular neurosurgeon to get things looked at. Of course, there is always that fear with each headache that the shunt will malfunction. But I do not dwell on that. Life is too short. You can’t prevent malfunctions, you just have to live your life as fully as possible.
What is your plan in case of shunt failure?