Getting the Flu in College: the Good, the Bad, the Ugly

It’s that time of the year again: flu season.

And like many people, I was that person a few months ago who blatantly ignored the strong encouragement from my parents to go to UHS and get my flu shot. We all know what that appointment would look like; getting a voluntary shot is the furthest thing from an emergency, and the act itself will take less than a minute. But it seems like the shorter the actual appointment, the longer you have to sit there. So getting a flu shot from UHS seemed less than ideal, when I could be spending the multiple hours of my time that I would lose sitting in the waiting room, doing anything else. Along with not wanting to make the trip, I think that we easily forget the number of people that we indirectly encounter on a daily basis, like that door handle to the library that you touched or that desk you rested your head on today in class that has been touched, coughed on, and lord only knows what else, by dozens of other people, today alone.


And so, when I least expected it (and could least afford it), I got punished for not following my parents orders and became a victim of the flu.

Now, instead of having an appointment for the shot, I was getting checked for the flu itself.

The Good-

On the upside, getting so sick that it would be more harmful to go to class than to stay in your room gives you the option to ride out the illness in the comfort of your own home and the opportunity to bug the crap out of your family in the meantime. I was lucky enough that my sister had come home for the weekend, so we got to spend some time together, although most of the time our bonding was done with a wall between us. 


The Bad-

Being home is great and all, but when you’re in the middle of a test week, it is pretty difficult to recover from missing out on days at school. It is so easy to get behind on class material, and making up exams only further screws up your schedule. I spent the entire weekend frantically emailing professors to make up tests and labs that would only force me to miss even more class time. It’s a vicious cycle.

The Ugly-

I hadn’t had the flu in so long that I forgot how inhibiting getting it was. Since I’ve been in college, I’ve never missed a class due to illness, so when I started missing multiple classes, it became apparent to me that I should probably see a doctor. At first I was absolutely convinced that it was simply a chest cold; some of my friends had colds so I wasn’t surprised that I had gotten one. Colds are bearable enough to go to class, but by day three of the flu, the chills, aching, congestion to the point where you’re off balance, and -for some of the lucky ones- the vomiting, is nearly unbearable, especially in subzero weather when you have to walk 15 minutes to get to class. At the peak of the flu, never mind how you feel, you look and move like you are somehow simultaneously dead and alive, and it is actually quite impressive.


So, just an FYI: Getting the flu in college is way worse than any other time that you have previously gotten it in your life; there is so much more at stake. Listen to your parents and get the darn flu shot. If you get the shot, then at least you can say you did everything you could to try to prevent it.

Stay Healthy Collegiettes!

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