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Author: barnesari

School is HARD

School is HARD

So coming to college, a lot changes, more than I could have ever imagined. I faced many challenges this year, some of which I came out with the “Dub” and others where I simply took a hard “L.”  The biggest challenge I faced this year (which I am still working on overcoming) was taking exams. I have always been a less than stellar test taker; however, I was always able to make it out on top in high school. At Michigan, I’ve had a much harder time figuring out the best way for me to take exams. I’ve tried everything form wearing ear pugs, to sitting in the very first row of the lecture hall during the exams. Every time, I still did not do as well as I had hoped. I study a lot, and I am trying to find the disconnect of applying study to the material on the exam. My test taking skills have definitely gotten better from the first exam that I took here at Michigan but I still have a long way to go.

Dealing with failure, especially with exams worth so much of my grade, has taught how to be resilient. When I don’t get the score I want, it gives me a reason to try harder and harder each time I take an exam. I have definitely seen improvement and I am constantly finding different ways that are best for me to retain and apply the information needed for exams. I never really experienced failure in high school so this was a huge wake up call. Though I realize that failure is just a part of life and I must learn how to use it to encourage me. Even though I am still working on overcoming this obstacle, I feel I have grown to understand failure in a whole new way. Even though failing SUCKS, its something that I’d rather get a handle on and learn how to deal with now rather than later on in my life.

I’m sure I have a lot more failures in my future, but I just hope that I never give up and use them as fuel for dreams.

Sexual Health

Sexual Health

For me, sexual health was never talked about. Not at home, not at school, not anywhere. If it was talked about, it was in a context of “Sex is bad, therefore don’t have it. That way we don’t have to talk about it.” After our lecture, it was surprising to hear the many different ways that schools addressed this subject. I feel that not talking about sex at all is the worst way to handle sexual health in high school. People are going to have sex, that’s literally a fact. So, the proper precautions should be taught to students so they know how to go about it safely. For women, there is a lot to talk about when it comes to sexual health, so I feel that at my all-girls high school had a unique opportunity to give us girls a very personalized education. However, my high school was a Catholic school and talking about sex was literally forbidden. I know and understand that premarital sex goes against our beliefs, but I feel it is important to still discuss ways to be healthy whenever you do decide to start having sex. They don’t have to teach about things that go against fundamental beliefs (like contraceptives) because you can’t expect a religious school to teach about something that goes against the religion. Though, I feel that diseases and how to identify them should be discussed because that is vital to living a healthy life. So here’s my question for you guys, should all schools discuss sexual health, even if there is a conflict in religious beliefs?

Its the End as We Know It

Its the End as We Know It

Whew, I can’t believe its the ned of my first semester here at Michigan. It feels like just yesterday my parents were moving me into my dorm. Its been a tough semester. My time management skills have never been worse in my life. The fact that I’ve missed 3 blogs alone in this class speaks volumes of how true that is. Next semester, I will definitely try much hard to stay on top of everything and put the appropriate amount of effort into every assignment for every class. Overall I am just proud that I made it to the end of the semester (well almost).

My “Letter to Myself” gave me some good advice that I wish I had followed. I warned myself of the freshman 15 and suggested that I go to the gym daily and try better to eat healthier. Man how I wish I’d listened. I also told myself to never give up and I can honestly say that that is one thing I did follow through with from my letter. Even though the semester could get pretty hard, there was never a moment where I just completely gave up and that too is something I am very proud of.

I am very excited for next semester because it is my chance to hit the restart button on my life (and my GPA) and try harder at staying on top of all of my assignments and various commitments. Overall though, I am very happy with how I handled my first semester of college.

Down Syndrome and Health Disparities

Down Syndrome and Health Disparities

The first time I had started to think about the disparities in health was back in 8th grade. My uncle Philip, who lives with my family, had just suffered a stroke that would eventually leave him paralyzed on one side of his body but my family and I didn’t know that at the time. Anyways, after the stroke, even though he was paralyzed, the doctors were completely hopeful that he would regain use of the right side of his body because it was not as severe as many other cases that they had seen make full recoveries. Following the stroke, my family had no other option but to place him in a nursing home that we would later find out was not working as hard as they should have been during his physical therapy. The physical therapy he was receiving wasn’t aggressive enough to make any progress because none of the therapists knew how to deal with someone who did not talk and could not understand them. He seemed to be getting worse, not better. Consequently, Philip did not receive the care he needed and we removed him from the nursing home. We brought him home and he’s been back with us since. I have always wondered if maybe we could have afforded a better nursing home, he would have received more attentive physical therapists and would be walking today? Or maybe if we had been able to pay for a private physical therapists to care for him, he’d at least be able to use his right arm? But those questions did not bother me that much because the real question on my mind was, if he didn’t have down syndrome would he be paralyzed today? If he could communicate like your average person, would the nursing home have been able to provide him with the care he needed? There is no confirming my speculations, but learning about health disparity in class reminded me of these questions that raced my mind when I was 14 years old before I even knew what health disparity was.

People with down syndrome have a shorter life expectancy than the rest of the general population. Even though kids with down syndrome are prone to many other life altering complications with their health, (including heart defects, leukemia, and dementia) I feel like their life expectancy could be related to the SEM Model. In 1997, a study showed that the life expectancy of white individuals with down syndrome was 50, while for blacks and other races it was 25 and younger. This is alarming in itself and that’s why it made me wonder if social and economic status played a part in the life expectancy of people with down syndrome. Caring for someone with down syndrome can be very expensive in the long run. If a family has more money to put towards a child with down syndrome does that child end up better off than a family who doesn’t? There is a shortage of health care professionals that are trained and willing to care for patients with intellectual disabilities. Thus, people with down syndrome may receive less routine preventive care services such as screenings and even just regular check ups. However, if a family has more time, money, and resources to put towards the care of someone with downs, does their life expectancy increase? This is just speculation on my part but I say yes all of these factors play a role in life expectancy. On the relationship level, if there is someone to spend an adequate amount of time with a child with downs they may be better taken care of which could play a huge role in their life expectancies. It is important for them to be surrounded by love and kinship so if that is absent, it could take a huge toll on health. On the community level, the institutions and programs set up for them could play a role in their health as well. People with downs are more likely to be overweight and this could lead to many other health issues. However, if there were more activities set up for them on the community level, would that obesity level decrease? For some, including my uncle, the only actual physical activity they could participate in was the special olympics every once in a while. That is not nearly enough to live a healthy life. On the societal level, could there be more done towards finding a way to keep the life expectancy of people with downs going up? Like maybe, creating even more awareness about the health risks that come with having down syndrome. Most people do not understand that by just having down syndrome, a person is way more susceptible to many diseases. When society thinks of down syndrome, they think of the mental disability part. However, it is not rare to have a kid with down syndrome battle leukemia or have a weak heart as my uncle does.

I can definitely say that progress has been made because today an individual with down syndrome is expected to live well into their 60s and 70s! (My uncle will turn 59 in February!!) I feel like at this point I am rambling so just to wrap up, do you guys think that the SEM model and what we learned about health disparities can relate to down syndrome and other disabilities that aren’t really preventative? Down syndrome may not be preventative but some of the things that comes with down syndrome could be prevented in my opinion.