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Being sick at Mills

The week before break I was struck with acute bronchitis, and let me tell you one thing: IT IS THE WORST. I lost my voice and my energy, which made a lot of things difficult. I don’t normally get sick that often — the last time I got the flu was in the ninth grade. Every year since then I have gotten the flu shot and it’s helped, since the worst I get is a minor cold, but this time the flu shot failed me! Good thing I recovered faster than my doctor’s predictions, for I slept a lot and drank a lot of fluids. I also was able to catch up on my schoolwork pretty quickly. However, there were some things that made my recovery more difficult.

Because I was coughing so much, I wore a surgical mask when I went to my classes. Some people lauded me for my politeness, for I was keeping others from getting sick. However, others were nothing but trouble for me. Someone called me “ugly” while I was physically and emotionally at my worst. For someone to call me “ugly” — while I at the moment did not have the energy nor the vocal prowess to call that person out — was uncalled for. I wanted to call that person out so badly, but I decided to keep calm and carry on.

In addition, when I told some people I was sick, they ran away from me. The least they could do was be nice about it and say, “I love you, but I really don’t want to get sick,” instead of making excuses to duck and cover. That hurts. When I told one of my friends that I was sick, she said, “That would have never happened if you had stayed in your room all day.” 

One of the other things that annoyed me was when I was in the Faculty Lounge studying with a mask on; a person came up to me and said “go to bed.” First of all, I already got as much rest as needed; more sleep isn’t going to help. Second, you are not my mom. Only my mom is allowed to boss me around like that. I know their excuse is that they are worried about me, and they care for me. I was annoyed by their attempts, and I wished they had just given me advice and left it off from there. I’m able to care for myself. Being sick doesn’t decrease my ability to care for myself.

I am a college student who has responsibilities, such as going to class and going to office hours, and I was able to do both. I can only stay in bed for so long (12 hours is my maximum cutoff). I have stuff I need to do, too. 

Another thing that annoyed me was that people told me to “stop talking.” That shows that they did not know that bronchitis does not affect the vocal cords, rather the airways which affects the sound of my voice. Think of it as trying to blow air into a flute that is full of gunk. Of course it’s not going to sound the same. I did my research, and I also asked my doctor, so my sources are credible. For people to invalidate me on my condition and my experience of being sick is just wrong. I just wished that maybe they did a tiny bit of research, themselves.

Overall, I’m lucky to have gotten sick in an environment like Mills because of the supportive professors, people and so on. There have been some people who have given me “get well soon” cards which helped so much. In addition, since I got sick after Black and White Ball, one of my good friends said that because I’m sick does not mean I am any less beautiful than I was that night. If I had gotten sick at a bigger university, I don’t know how I would have managed. However, there is no doubt that that experience could have gone more smoothly. Getting sick during the semester, despite being horrible, is manageable. You are able to bounce back, especially if you take it step by step. You may not be able to get back to normal immediately as you are still healing, but trust me, it is possible. Just think of it as a bump in the road.

After being sick, especially for the first time in years, I really learned the importance of sleep and getting enough fluids. Don’t skimp on that, people!