Getting ill at university :(
A couple of weeks ago I was unfortunate enough to get really quite ill. Being at university, surrounded by so many different people all the time, it’s inevitable that you’ll catch some kind of cold at some point. A few weeks into term one I caught the seemingly unavoidable ‘Fresher’s Flu’, which for me was just a cold (the alliteration makes it sound scarier than it actually is). Of course I can only speak for myself, for everyone’s body and immune system is different. I fought through, but until recently I’ve never missed any classes due to illness.
Normally I am incredibly healthy, and do everything reasonable to prevent getting ill. I eat a healthy balanced diet (including lots of fruit to stock up on vitamins), exercise everyday (even if this is just the walk to central campus), and wrap up warm in the cold weather. But I still got ill…it was just unlucky. Normally I would never miss a class or go to the doctors if I had just mere cold symptoms like a stuffy nose, sore throat and cough, but this time I knew there was something more going on. I haven’t been to the doctors in years, and in the state I was in the walk to the Health Centre here on campus (an ordinary GP which you can register for when you enrol at uni) was daunting, but I made it there and they helped me out. I’m better now, and the nurse I spoke too was genuinely really lovely and helped reassure me that I’d be ok.
Because that’s the difference about getting ill here versus at home: at home you have family to look after you, but here you’re all on your own, and when you can barely get out of bed it’s hard to function. I am sincerely grateful to all of my friends that helped me out, cooking me dinner, making me hot chocolate and bringing me some shopping. It also sucks feeling helpless and having to miss classes – don’t be afraid to speak to your tutors/lecturers if you’re unable to make it. They’ll appreciate you letting them know and then you can both work out a solution.
I have no authority to speak on medical matters and if you think you have something serious then it’s best to speak to a professional, but I can at least offer some tips that helped me to deal with cold symptoms:
1. Prevention: the best way to not have cold symptoms is to not catch a cold. Exercise, eat healthily, sleep well; the usual human stuff that is recommended. Look after yourselves and remember that health comes first.
2. Failing the above, be prepared. Keep a stock of tissues, painkillers and throat sweets so you won’t have to stress about walking to the shops when you’re feeling down. Keep a few cans of soup too so you won’t have to deal with preparing dinner.
3. In the case of stuffy noses, Vaporub is amazing to help you breathe at night. You can get it in the pharmacy in the SU, and if you ask they can probably give recommendations of other things that can help.
4. And I know it’s gross but if you get snot on your hands, don’t forget to wash them so that you don’t pass the germs onto other people. It will be appreciated.
5. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, be it from a doctor or a friend. At the same time, if you have a friend who is ill, ask if they need anything. We need to look out for each other.
We all know that getting ill sucks, but it’s just a fact of life that we have to deal with. What makes it especially hard is that for most of us, our families are far away worrying about us too. The responsibility to look after ourselves is even stronger now, but we just have to have hope that we’ll pull through. Having to miss classes that I’m paying a lot of money for is not a nice feeling, but at least now I’ve returned to working with a renewed vigour, and I actually had a productive reading week for once! Just remember to look after yourselves and each other.