28 Products Every College Student with a Chronic Illness Should Pack

In this blog post, you will learn about products that will:

  • Provide more comfortable during a flare up
  • Maintain a sanitized & clean living space
  • Help you adjust to the college lifestyle 
  • Keep your joints happy & cozy!

They say that going to college will be the best experience of your life. To some extent, this is true for me, but for the most part I could not wait to be done from the moment I began my Junior year. I had a blast at Keene State College, but I worked very hard for the degree I own today. My persistent mindset to become a college graduate and professionally trained fine artist and graphic designer carried me through the finish line-- but boy oh boy was it the most difficult thing I've ever done.

My college experience included being a Residential Assistant, design intern, waitress and bartender, and more, all while managing a crippling autoimmune disease that I had lived with since I was diagnosed at 13 months old-- Rheumatoid Arthritis.

This is a disease where the immune system attacks itself and, as a result, has Arthritis like symptoms such as joint deformities, joint pain, Rheumatic fevers, and more. For the most part, the disease can stay under control with drugs like chemotherapy or injections. However, most of these drugs suppress the immune system so severely that there is no immune system, making any patient undergoing these treatments highly susceptible to viruses and infections.

When you move into a college campus housing establishment, your body is against all odds. You're exposed to germs from all over the world that you body hasn't seen yet, you're now living with people with different habits, clean or not. Lastly, you're constantly in contact with high-traffic areas, where thousands of students are touching the same surfaces and areas that you do-- increasing your odds of becoming ill even more. Now on top of you autoimmune or chronic disease, you have classes.

With that said, whomever tells you that going to school with an autoimmune disease and/ or chronic illness is easy is straight up lying through their teeth. It will be the most difficult endeavor you take to date if you are going the traditional college route directly after high school.

However, I am living proof that it is possible to make it to the finish line of college and I can help you get there. If you are looking for ways to protect your immune system while living in filthy dorms, products that you should anticipate needing while sick or flaring, or items I personally used in college to make my living arrangements more comfortable for my autoimmune disease, Rheumatoid Arthritis, then you have come to the right place.

The products I've listed for you are things that I either had while in college, I use now that I wish I had in college, items that I always used to say "why on Earth don't we have this", or items I borrowed too regularly from my residents where I would have just bought it myself if I wasn't so poor.

This are merely suggestions to help make life a little easier for when you are flaring or when you are so sick you are just trying to survive your way through midterms. These little things will be the difference between eating or not eating sometimes, sleeping or being kept awake, having clothes to wear or freezing in the winter, or making it through a class or not attending class at all.

I've compiled this list based completely on personal experiences and while it doesn't include everything, I think it includes the vast majority of the things I definitely would pack first and foremost if I had to do my college move in all over again. 

May you do well in college, stay healthy, and be happy! With a little help from the list below, you're going to rock this whole college thing! I can't guarantee the products will work to alleviate pain or improve your day to day lifestyle, but I know these products have impacted my life, especially in college.

Was THIS list helpful? Let me know your thoughts in the comments. Are there any key items that you would add?

Sending positive vibes,

Here's the stuff you'll actually need:

Febrese Air Purifier and Fan 

  • Filter stagnant air
    Lock up the mildew and mold in the disposable filters
  • Built in air-freshener (smells amazing!)
    Run on 3 different settings
  • Block out noises to sleep better
  • Refill the filter once a semester
  • Small enough for your dorm, but large enough to make a significant impact
  • Great for if your building is older or has a rug (area rug or permanent
  • Great for autoimmune diseases as it traps germs!
  • Save on air freshening products

All Season, All Occasion Black Waterproof Boots

  • Waterproof makes them great for rain and snow
  • Layer as many pairs of socks as you need if you have poor circulation (Raynaud's) 
  • Wear them out to parties without worrying about them getting destroyed
  • Great for lawn parties because you can wipe the mud off and they're good as new again
  • If alcohol is spilled on them, just wipe them off

Shout out to the Hibernating College Bear

  • Alarm clock wakes you when your phone is dead/ if your phone is broken
  • Wakes you up to natural noises and tunes, slowly and naturally
  • For hypersomnia and insomnia patients
  • Great for nursing students who work swing shifts 
  • Perfect for the art student that spends all day and night in the studio 
  • If you are depressed, this will help regulate your sleep pattern

You're Hot then You're Cold

  • Cool packs for Arthritis flare ups or sports injuries 
  • Great for headaches and earaches
  • Small enough to store cool packs in your dorm's fridge 
  • Heating pack has multiple settings to help manage your period cramps or back/ neck pain

Is Your Lipgloss Poppin?

  • Great for dry hot air in dorm room
  • Not a bad chemical on your lips!
  • Works with anti-bullying campaigns
  • Small enough to fit in your pocket, large enough to make a positive impact on the world
  • The ONLY Pan You Will Need

    I use this Kate Spade pan literally every single day of my life since I bought it 3 years ago on sale at Macy's. I cook rice and past in it to use less water, I make french toast in it every morning, and I have even made skillet lasagna in it. This is hands down my favorite kitchen item.

    • Does not have a terrible smell when you first use it on the burner
    • Incredibly durable 
    • Non-stick 
    • *Handle does not get hot since it's hollow
    • Make everything from eggs and bacon to spaghetti to meatballs to queso dip in this thing (trust me-- I do it all in this one pan)
    • Built to last
    • Funky color 

    Lock It Up (the Drugs I mean)

    • Keep drugs away from roommates or friends
    • If you run to the bathroom and don't lock your door, you are at risk of having your medications stollen 
    • Lock up pain killers and ADHD medications 
    • Keep needles and supplies away from friends who are "curious"
    • Keep things out of sight and out of mind-- not every detail needs to be shared
    • Stowing items away means keeping them sanitary

    Baby Powder

    I'm a big advocate for babypowder. I actually use it every.single.day. of my life because I have the sweatiest feet known to woman. When I'm cold, my feet sweat. When my feet are wet, they sweat. When my feet are hot, they sweat. So, I'm constantly pouring it into my shoes. Going to college was uncomfortable for me if I didn't have this in my shoes. I would sit on my feet four hours because they were soaking wet from sweat. The baby powder helped a lot. I can't recommend this quick fix enough.

  • Soaks up odors from sweaty shoes or cleats
  • Great for dry shampoo
  • Lifts smells from area rugs
  • In-between classes, you can go to the gym and freshen up with rubbing some baby powder on to dry up the sweat
  • Can set your makeup with it
  • Helps dry up spills on books or papers
  • Repels Ants
  • Gets rid of annoying squeaks in your floor by pouring some into the cracks and sweeping over it
  • Have a Date with Your Bed

    • Super lightweight but cozy 
    • Bohemian design brings many different items in your dorm together in one cohesive design
    • Reversible to change up your dorm style when you need a change
    • Four pillow cases allow for keeping your bed clean and safe for your autoimmune disease
    • Sheets are nice and soft, but durable 

    ChronicallyJill.com Spoonie Tumbler 32 OZ

    The Mug You Will Take Everywhere

    • I use my travel mugs as hand warmers
    • Great for saving money at the coffee shop
    • Can respectfully and responsibly fill your mug up with hot water or coffee from the dining hall before you leave
    • Less waste than buying a coffee every single day
    • Keeps food warm if you need to take soup to your dorm from the dining hall if you're sick
    • When you have strep throat, this will be your best friend
    • When you have a cold, this will..again, be your best friend
    • Easy to wash

    No I CANnot even without this opener!

    • Everyone gets those cookware packs for college and they always come with a terrible can opener. Invest in a good one-- your hands will thank you!
    • Great grip
    • Softer on the hands than most 
    • Lockable 

    Wash Your Mouth[guard] Out

    • You brush your teeth...but have you forgotten about your mouth guard?
    • Refillable container for mouthguard cleaner
    • Hard case protects guard from being stepped on and breaking (true story)
    • Cleans germs after a cold/ while your roommates are all sick

    Get A Grip On Arthritis

    • Great for those 2am pickles you want but can't open
    • Don't need to phone a friend for help
    • Perfect for opening jars without spilling its contents everywhere
    • Fits to multiple sized jars 

    You have Enough Weight On Your Shoulders

    • Great for carrying laundry down the hall or down the stairs
    • Can get through snow/ leaves if you have to use a shared laundry facility
    • The best possible thing for bringing back groceries from the trek to the super store (Keene State Walmart/ Target runs...anyone?!)
    • Great for hiding things you don't want your parents to see when they visit
    • Folds up so it can be little to no disturbance when not needed

    Just add Aqua

    • Comes in spray, body wash, and lotion
    • Great for all occasions 
    • Not fruity, not musky, just clean feeling and light
    • Feel expensive without paying the cost for designer perfume 
    • Easy to buy (Victoria Secret)

    Be a Creature of Habit 

    • Inexpensive storage option 
    • Matches everything 
    • Create good habits and separate belongings into bins for when your brain fog is immense 

    The Bees Knees - Self Cleaning Storage Food Wrap

    • Wrap up food you can't finish for a late night snack 
    • Responsibly steal from the dining hall-- this is more discreet than Pyrex pans or Tupperware
    • Self Cleaning! The wax is coated with antibacterial material 
    • Just rinse cloth in cold water and hang to dry-- super fast clean up

    Vitamin C and Zinc

    You can drink all the juice you want, but Zinc, Vitamin C, and Vitamin D are really the trick to keeping a cold at bay.

    I cannot recommend this supplement enough. Zinc, itself, has saved me from catching so many colds it's not even funny. I also took vitamin C every day in college, so this is the perfect pair.

    Pump Yourself Up for an Easy Shower

    • Don't have to lift up bottles out of your shower caddy every time you shower
    • Won't drop your bottles in the shower
    • More Arthritis friendly especially after typing or writing all night
    • Won't have to tip your bottles upside-down to get every last drop, only to have it spill all over your dorm floor

    Designated Dish Drying Area 

    It's great that you did the dishes, now which towel do you want to wipe them down with? The one you use on your body, the one you used to clean up vodka from the floor, or the one you used for dusting? You choose. Have a designated drying space

  • Easier to carry from the kitchen back to your dorm room
  • Doesn't use any towels= less laundry
  • Keeps dishes cleaner
  • Better storage if you can't find a place
  • Entire tray can be taken apart and washed
  • Plain Jane Black Scarf

  • Dresses up an outfit to look more professional
  • Keeps you warm even if it isn't what others perceive as "cold"
  • Changes up an outfit if you don't have too many clothes
  • Can remove and wear over legs if your knees get cold during class
  • Clean Your Keyboard 

  • Cleans your disgusting keyboard
  • Reduces risk of a cold spreading in your dorm room
  • Clean off the keyboard you're about to use in the computer lab-- you don't know where that person's hands have been
  • Great from small areas Q-tips can't reach
  • Reduces use of expensive Lysol wipes
  • Strain Your Pasta, Not Your Arthritic Hands

    This is one of my absolute favorite products! I had something similar growing up and I LOVED it. Trying to find a replacement was difficult, so I would cautiously carry the pot or pan to the sink, barely able to drain it with my deformed hands and pain in my wrists and fingers. This thing saves me a lot of work. It's my second favorite kitchen item!

  • Stores easily
  • Super EASY on your hand joints to strain
  • Less to wash
  • Don't have to fully carry the pot with two hands to strain, just lean over the sink gently to drain water
  • Suck It Up

  • Does not take up a lot of space
  • Low Maintenance
  • Easy to Empty
  • Lightweight
  • Great for cleaning up hair from your floor if you live with all girls
  • Door Mat

  • Keeps mud and leaves out of your dorm
  • Less vacuuming
  • Sets the tone to keep your room nice and clean right from the door
  • Reminds guests to not walk in with muddy or wet boots
  • A great place to keep your boots and shoes to dry
  • SEVERAL Toothbrushes

  • Cleans your disgusting keyboard
  • Reduces risk of a cold spreading in your dorm room
  • Clean off the keyboard you're about to use in the computer lab-- you don't know where that person's hands have been
  • Great from small areas Q-tips can't reach
  • Reduces use of expensive Lysol wipes
  • MANY Self Cleaning Sponges

  • Mildew-Free (no stankayyy sponges)
  • Self Cleaning
  • Do not smell of mold or mildew
  • Eco Friendly
  • Designed with those tough to reach spots in mind
  • Travel Blanket/ Foldable Blanket

  • Great for movie nights in your friend's room
  • Have friends over and offer them their own blanket
  • Bring to football, soccer, or rugby games in the fall
  • Bring to seminar classes or stadium seating classes
  • Folds up for easy storage and can fit in a tote bag
  • Use as an extra pillow!
  • Take a Hike...With Your Small First Aid Kit

  • Can bring with you in your car on long trip back home for a shool break
  • Take along on a hike
  • enough to take on hikes
  • Comes on a caribeaner
  • Helps keep wounds sanitary until you can get to the nursing station the next day (unless it's an ER-status wound)
  • Bandaids and simple quick fixes included so you can carry on with your day or night
  • Scissors for when you can't find your office scissors
  • Tweezers to get out splinters from old dorm floors
  • Spoonie Skull Floral Spiral Notebook

    Spoonie Skull Floral Spiral Notebook

    20 page spiral notebook with ruled line paper is a perfect companion in everyday life. Durable printed cover makes Spoonie proud to carry it everywhere..: Front cover print .: 120
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