Image from Pexels.

Image from Pexels.

Shockingly, despite my typical determination to make keeping my health up very hard for my body, I have not yet been sick at college. Well, I hadn’t, and then I pitched the concept to our dear editors, was assigned it, and promptly fell ill a few days later. Who sent a pox to befall my head, and what did I do to deserve it?

I actually may have narrowed the source of my illness to the fact that my freshman year of college, I had an umbrella, and this year, I forgot to bring one, and then was thoroughly soaked every time it rained. Which was often. And consecutive. So, here I am, with firsthand experience on what it’s like to be sickened for the first time at college and far from home. I have some ideas now on how to make it out of this as painlessly as possible, and without a hit to your ability to do work well.

Be aware, and prepared.

First off, you’re not the only person not feeling too hot, especially right about now. There’s a reason flu season coincides with colder months and the start of school, and it totally has to do with the fact that a bunch of germy folks are brought together and kept in confined quarters who touch every surface. Then consider how often you touch your face, in between touching everything else, and I’m quickly surprised that it took me this long to get sick. Also, this is a stressful time, and if it’s your first semester of college, you might be majorly stressed out, which weakens your immune system. Uh oh! You’ve got potential chance for sickness, and so does everyone else. So make sure that you pick up some medicine to help combat any symptoms you may be feeling as your health takes a dip.

My dad found out I was sick and then laughed when he realized I didn’t have any nasal spray, though I knew a stuffy nose was heading my way. He deemed me “unprepared” and suggested I go purchase some (or ask a friend to) quickly, lest I wished no sleep that night. I bought some. No sniffles here (though, don’t use that too long – avoid dependency)! Also, armed with the knowledge that you may be susceptible to sickness, keep an eye out for some symptoms that can alert you you’re not well. When we’ve got our noses to the ground working, we don’t want to admit that we might be coming down with something, but it’s not always the common cold either. The sooner you realize you’re sick, the faster you can do something about it, the sooner you’ll be back to yourself. This includes going to a doctor. Speaking of…

Know your on-campus resources.

Schools don’t like having unhealthy students! So they tend to have some kind of on-campus health center for their students to prevent and treat any illnesses that come up. While these sometimes can develop reputations of being virtually unhelpful, this isn’t true, even in the case of my school’s mocked health center.

I went the other day, and although I had to wait a bit (try scheduling an appointment if you can–remember, lots of people are getting sick), when I did get to have a doctor, the doctor recalled me from a previous visit (not sickness) and listened carefully to my symptoms and gave me both a prescription (in case I had strep–which I thankfully didn’t) and some possible over-the-counters that would help. All along with the strict order of at least 64 ounces of water, daily. All of this went free of charge, and my parents were relieved to hear that a doctor had seen me. A fellow TPer says that while afflicted with a three-week long fever headache, he also utilized his campus’ mental health services in case a different issue was apart of the illness. A smart move, and one that can be reassuring–never be afraid to utilize whatever health resource is available to you.

Parents should be told things.

You may not want to worry dear old mom and dad, but you’d be surprised at how skilled the parental units are at detecting sickness, miles away and over the phone. And once I told them how I felt, they were able to suggest a battery of symptom fighters to make me feel better. Sometimes, if your sickness is well-timed, they can even send something helpful in a care package. Plus, they may remind you of a favorite home remedy that you loved that you forgot because the last time you were sick you were at home and they did it for you.

Take a sick day.

A sick day?? Now y’all are saying the meds have gotten to me and I need a nap (you would be correct) but I’m serious. You’re not going to flunk out of college if you take one sick day and give your body a rest, but neither do you need to go all out and just drop everything. I came down with this unhealthy nonsense starting on a Friday, and by the following Monday, I was exhausted all day and felt miserable. On Tuesday, I realized that I was in an excellent position: I only had one class that day, and work could be cut out of (I just wouldn’t get paid for those hours). I emailed a friend, requested the notes, and stayed home. But I didn’t spend the whole day lounging. I was able to sit and spin, and thus I spun out some important work. By twelve, my sickness reminded me it was around, so I took a nap. It was excellent, and I felt refreshed enough to work a little more (but relax!) and then still hit the sack early. I definitely woke up feeling better the next day. While I still hadn’t kicked the bug, I was definitely capable of going about my business with little more than the sniffles. Consider a sick day, and the logistics required. You might have some strategic resting/working combo hours available to you to boost you up and get better faster than just barreling through it.

From the TPers with love; take a tip.

After polling the dear TPers, it seems that a sore throat favorite is honey. According to one TPer, “EAT HONEY. Put the honey in tea. Put the honey in hot water. Eat the honey by itself. Honey is one of the best home remedies to cure sore throats and severe allergies.” I don’t think a suggestion gets much clearer than that. If another symptom you experience is a headache, it’s suggested to take a walk – clear your head!

If nothing else, hopefully you never experience something too severe that becomes either long-term or binds you to your room on doctor’s orders. One of our staff knew a girl who developed a case of strep throat, while another girl developed a kidney infection, and had to miss classes. While your health is what’s important, frequently missing classes can really bug your health later when you’re trying to play catch up. Along with getting the proper care you need, be sure to look into your school’s absence policy, and fill out any forms that can clarify to professors why you’re missing class. Hopefully, you never come down with anything more severe than a head cold, if you get sick at all. The best way to avoid sickness though is to take care of yourself: get a healthy amount of sleep, eat right, and drink lots of water. Trust me, it’ll spare you a lot of trouble later.

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the author

After applying to 21 schools partially for the fun of it and getting accepted to 17, Aida Guhlin decided on Texas A&M and is ecstatic about it. Aida is a sophomore, and since she’s noticed that there aren’t many others (yet) at The Prospect, she has to say that she is the loudest, proudest member of the Fightin’ Texas Aggie Class of 2016 ( A-A-A-A-A!). In Aggieland, Aida majors in Geography, minors in English, and is working to figure out whether minoring in Biochemistry can be thrown into the mix because she has some funny dreams to work at the CDC. She loves Doctor Who, food, the sadly cancelled Bunheads, and reading books. When not writing articles for The Prospect, she hopes to be accepted to A&M’s new literary magazine staff “The Eckleburg Project” and has fun nerding out at Quiz Bowl practice. She also works as a writing grader for one of the writing centers on campus, editing the errors of students. While Aida currently is hiding from her Twitter account as the school year rushes in, Instagram will get you videos of her puppy, her brother, and pictures of random things that she finds while walking. Also, if you have no idea how to say her name, say this aloud: “I-eat-a fajita.” You’re good.

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