I hadn’t been sick in years. I mean sure, I’ve had the occasional headache, and yes, there have been days where I just couldn’t bring myself to go to class due to fatigue. But the runny noses, cough drops, and Vicks Vaporub type of sick? Not once in the past ~seven years. Then a few weeks ago, I was out sick with the flu.
I frankly don’t know how I had lasted this long at MIT without getting some form of disease. I’m sure part of it was due to the first two semesters being virtual. And sophomore year nearly everyone was careful to stay healthy as best as they could. But regardless of how I avoided the plague for so long, the fact of the matter is that I got it.
So what do you do when you’re sick in college? Honestly, I didn’t really know. But here’s what I did.
My first plan of attack was to stay home. I woke up Thursday (10/20) feeling terrible, opened my Google calendar, saw I had nothing I desperately needed to do that day, and went back to bed. I hoped that I would wake up refreshed and ready to start (and finish) the 7.012 PSET. Instead, I woke up a few hours later practically unable to speak from a sore throat.
So, it was onto the next attack: cancelling plans. This part of being sick sucks, in some ways more than the actual act of being sick. I proceeded to text the various people I had plans with that Thursday and Friday, either rescheduling or simply asking for forgiveness. Everyone was more than understanding, which is a fact I attribute to the MIT’s culture. On the one hand, we all have work we need to do, and the last thing you’d want is to get sick hanging out with a sick friend and be unable to do that work. But on the other (perhaps less selfish) hand, we have all been there. Most students know how frustrating it is to be sick or hosed or generally incapable of doing the things we would much rather being doing, so most students are understanding.
After cancelling most plans I was looking forward to, I moved onto the plans that I wasn’t, i.e. the 7.012 PSET. Now off the bat I can’t just excuse this PSET, I don’t have the power to do that. But what I could do was email the instructors of the course and ask for an extension. I did what I could of the problemset, I sent off that email, and went to bed.
And fell asleep for sixteen hours.
Apparently (I say as I check my email and look at timestamps), the 7.012 staff responded to my email minutes after I sent it and told me to go to S^3, but here I was nearly a full day later after S^3 had closed for the weekend. So I set a reminder to drop by S^3 the following Monday, and stocked up for the weekend with four 28oz fruit punch Gatorades, cherry cough drops, and Chips Ahoy from Verdes.
That weekend was the most mind-numbingly boring weekend I have ever had at MIT. It wasn’t like in elementary school where you get the sniffles, skip class, and get a Happy Meal. It was just me in my dorm room, trying my best to stop being sick. I couldn’t even work effectively on problemsets. My brain and body were dead.
On Monday, I did what I should’ve done in the first place and called S^3. S^3, aka Student Support Services, is precisely the first place you should go if you start feeling unwell or need help with your classes. The earlier you reach out, the better they can help. For 7.012, this meant excusing my PSET from the previous week (which went terribly, but I expected as much given I did it exhaustedly), and getting a make-up exam for the midterm that Wednesday. For my other, smaller, classes, nothing too much more happened. I reached out to the professors and they were more than accommodating with PSETs and missing class. But still, it helped knowing that an entire student-focused organization was in my corner if I needed help. I also went to MIT Medical to rule out COVID, strep, etc., but that’s neither here nor there.
The rest of the week, I essentially just stayed in my room until I started feeling better. What else could I really do.
I don’t particularly know if there’s too much more to say in this post about that week. In fact, I was debating writing this post in the first place. By the time I got around to actually having the energy to write a post, I was over being sick.
I mean, there are so many other cool parts of campus besides me staying in my room all week, many of which I’ve been wanting to write about for the last month. But being “out of business” has played a big role in my semester so far. I still feel behind in a number of classes, and I haven’t been writing as much as I wanted to be. But I’m getting there, and I look forward to sharing though 'more exciting' than being sick is a low bar with y’all soon.
- though 'more exciting' than being sick is a low bar back to text ↑