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MIT blogger CJ Q. '23

at least it’s not covid by CJ Q. '23

sick day

on thursday morning, i woke up at 9 am, after only six hours of sleep, and i felt awful. my throat was sore, i simultaneously felt hot and cold, and mucus discharged from my faucet of a nose. unsurprising, given what i started feeling the night before. i reported the symptoms on covid pass and started rifling through my emails.

i thought, should i go to class today? i only had one class, and it was 6.UAT Oral Communication, from 11 am to noon. the other class i usually went to on thursdays, 6.033 Computer Systems Engineering, had canceled recitations for the day. it would be a flagrant violation of rules to attend class, and a bad idea anyway. i checked the 6.UAT website for course policy on missing class, then i emailed the teaching assistant saying i’d be absent.

i ordered takeout online from clover, then went to medical and got tested for covid again. it was a struggle walking outside, even if it was a fine spring day; it made me wonder how i could’ve gotten tested for covid if i felt too sick to move. i cleared my schedule for the day—not that there was anything, mind you—and was left listless.

what did people do when they were sick? i legitimately didn’t know, as i haven’t had to miss school due to illness since five years ago. sure, i’ve been sick between. from time to time, i get acute vertigo, for example; a few times it’s been bad enough to trigger vomiting. but i haven’t had a cold in years, let alone one that felt this bad. here’s what i knew other people did:

  • spend time in bed. yep, did that.
  • make themselves soup or tea. i was not going to fool myself into being capable of preparing food while feeling like fresh-baked hell, but i did make tea. in fact, i brewed myself at least four liters of tea through the whole day. it was a ridiculous amount of tea.
  • go to a medlink. medlinks are student liaisons with mit medical. i might’ve gone to a medlink, if it was worse. how much worse, though? i don’t know. i’m bad at asking for help from others when i need it, so i end up not asking for help.
  • go to mit medical. if i wasn’t going to go to a medlink, i wasn’t going to go to mit medical. also, despite living in east campus and mit medical being less than five minutes away, it was painful to go outside, let alone go out of my room.
  • email s3, student support services. but, what for? why did i need their help? it’s not like i had any assignments that needed extensions, and it’s not like i needed a note from s3 for… anything.

without anything else to do, i tried to do what i always did when i had free time: work. i checked my list of homework deadlines, but none were due for a week and a half. so i tried to work on some projects i had due end-of-semester. but of the four (yes, four, it’s ridiculous) projects i had, three were group projects, and i was blocked on my teammates.

that left the one project for 6.004 Computation Structures. i didn’t have to work too hard on this project; i just had to get a decent score in the last exam and i’d get a B in the class. but i wanted an A, so i at least had to put some amount of effort into the project. when i opened the project and tried working on it, my mental energy evaporated after half an hour. that was out.

i decided to catch up on watching anime. i finished the first season of the melancholy of haruhi suzumiya, a 2006 sci fi comedy. (no spoilers, don’t worry.) one of the themes that stood out to me was that of nihilism. it’s never outright stated, but the way haruhi flits between activity to activity strikes me as someone who views life so… trivially. perhaps her thrill-seeking should be viewed as bargaining, a plea to the gods for a meaningful life, after realizing that she isn’t living one.

i took a nap. well, it wasn’t a nap, because i slept for three hours. when i woke up, i saw it was nine pm, and then i slept even more.

i woke up friday morning, still feeling sick. a notification on my phone tells me i tested negative. i email our tutorial instructor for 6.033, saying that i have to miss class. i message my teammates for 6.033, relaying my preparations for today’s class. i scrounge myself food.

i watch more haruhi suzumiya, this time finishing season 2. this sounds like a lot of episodes, but i skipped four out of fourteen. the second season of haruhi is notorious for its endless eight, a series of eight episodes that were literally the same events eight times. while a fascinating piece of art, i did not have the patience to watch eight episodes of the same thing, so i only watched the first, second, fifth, and last ones.

while i could certainly pull out my media studies glasses on the endless eight, and haruhi suzumiya in general, i will leave it to others. instead, i will merely offer this fun fact: you can tell whether someone learned japanese from anime if they don’t know the words for “neck” or “road” but they do know the words for “dream”, “future”, or “devil”, and maybe a disproportionate amount of expletives.

by friday afternoon i was feeling much better. the only symptom left was a runny nose, but i had otherwise felt fine. still, was it already okay for me to start going to things, now that i was feeling better?

it’s weird, being in isolation, when it’s self-imposed. all the guidelines told you what to do if you tested positive for covid, but nothing when you test negative. i don’t know how much people mind being around someone who is/was sick. what if i no longer had symptoms, but they only disappeared an hour ago? what if i’m completely normal except i cough every ten minutes? even if i did go outside, of course i’d wear a mask everywhere for a few days, but… still, did people mind?

it wasn’t covid. but maybe i wanted it to be covid, if only so i knew what to do. maybe i wanted it to be something worse, so i could take a break from… from what? it’s not as if i had work that i was avoiding anyway.

maybe the worst part of it all is that i feel guilty for not doing work with all the free time i had. or that, now that i’m feeling better, i’m still not doing work; i’m going to watch the haruhi suzumiya movie, and then i might do some more writing, or play slay the spire, or whatever. what kind of a world do i live in, where i feel like i have to do work on a sick day?