5 Ways to Cope with Being Sick in College

5 Ways to Cope with Being Sick in College

Being sick in school is the absolute worst, but there are ways to make it better.
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Getting sick is horrible in general. Getting sick at college though can be so much worse. At least at home there’s probably someone around to nurse you back to health, or at least take pity on you. At college, you’ve got to take care of yourself. That soup isn’t going to make itself. Here are some tips for handling being sick at school

1. Drink plenty of fluids.

Having to pee every 30 minutes is a frustrating thing, but fluids really do help you get better. Your body needs fluids to flush all the illness out. Also if you’ve got a fever, you’re probably sweating and getting dehydrated, so it’s important to stay on top of drinking. If water isn’t your thing, it’s still worthwhile to drink tea, sports drinks, and even a little bit of soda. The point is to get the liquid into your system and keep it down.

2. Get some rest.

No one wants to be told this because as college kids we have a lot to do and not a lot of time to do it. However, getting more sleep is one of the main keys to recovery. Your body heals while you rest, and it can better fight the illness if it’s not also trying to keep you running. You need at least the standard 8 hours (especially if you don’t get that regularly) but you’ll likely need even more than that. This generally means going to bed early, even if it means skipping that reading assignment or the really fun party next door. If you’ve got time, take naps too, especially in the middle of the day when you can feel yourself starting to lag.

3. Make a comfortable space for yourself.

Make some soup. Curl up with a cup of tea. Lay in bed and watch crazy amounts of Netflix while dozing. Take a hot shower. Whatever comfort looks like to you, find a way to do it. This can often be the most difficult because as college students we’re told to just keep trekking along, regardless of circumstance. If you feel well enough to do some work, great! But know when to take breaks. Listen to your body and what it needs. If you’re feeling too sick to make yourself food, ask a friend or your roommate if they can help. Essentially, don’t overtax yourself.

4. Talk to your professors.

Sometimes going to class will be unavoidable, whether it's because you have a presentation or a test, or just because your professor has a super strict attendance policy. However, letting your professors know you’re sick is always a good choice. They may want you to stay home rather than risk getting the rest of the class sick. They may even offer you an extension on assignments. The point is, if they don’t know you’re sick, they can’t help you deal with being sick.

5. Go to the health center.

When you’re sick it usually feels like you don’t have time for anything else, especially for going to the doctor. Most of the time. However, if the cold persists or gets progressively worse, it might be time to go and see a professional. The worst thing that can happen is you lose half an hour of study time and end up with some free cough drops. If something is wrong though, they can get you what you need to get better, whether that’s through medication or further testing. You know your body better than anyone else, so if something feels wrong, then something is probably wrong. It’s always better to get checked out and find nothing than it is to avoid a doctor only for your illness to get much worse (emergency room worse).

Being sick sucks, but with the right steps, you can handle it, even far away from home!

Cover Image Credit: https://s-media-cache-ak0.pinimg.com/originals/69/ec/c6/69ecc620fbcc4ebbaa16932d37205b3a.jpg

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Yes, I Had A Stroke And I'm Only 20

Sometimes bad things happen to good people.
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Recently, I read an article on Cosmo that was written by a woman that had a stroke at the ripe old age of 23. For those of you who don't know, that really doesn't happen. Young people don't have strokes. Some do, but it's so incredibly uncommon that it rarely crosses most people's minds. Her piece was really moving, and I related a lot -- because I had a stroke at 20.

It started as a simple headache. I didn't think much of it because I get headaches pretty often. At the time, I worked for my parents, and I texted my mom to tell her that I'd be late to work because of the pain. I had never experienced a headache like that, but I figured it still wasn't something to worry about. I went about my normal routine, and it steadily got worse. It got to the point that I literally threw up from the pain. My mom told me to take some Tylenol, but I couldn't get to our kitchen. I figured that since I was already in the bathroom, I would just take a shower and hope that the hot steam would relax my muscles, and get rid of my headache. So I turned the water on in the shower, and I waited for it to get hot.

At this point, I was sweating. I've never been that warm in my life. My head was still killing me. I was sitting on the floor of the bathroom, trying to at least cope with the pain. Finally, I decided that I needed to go to the hospital. I picked up my phone to call 911, but I couldn't see the screen. I couldn't read anything. I laid down on the floor and tried to swipe from the lock screen to the emergency call screen, but I couldn't even manage that. My fine motor skills were completely gone. My fingers wouldn't cooperate, even though I knew what buttons needed to be pressed. Instead of swiping to the emergency call screen, I threw my phone across the room. "Okay," I thought, "Large muscle groups are working. Small ones are not".

I tried getting up. That also wasn't happening. I was so unstable that I couldn't stay standing. I tried turning off the running water of the shower, but couldn't move the faucet. Eventually, I gave up on trying to move anywhere. "At what point do I just give up and lie on the floor until someone finds me?" That was the point. I ended up lying on the floor for two hours until my dad came home and found me.

During that two hours, I couldn't hear. My ears were roaring, not even ringing. I tried to yell, but I couldn't form a sentence. I was simply stuck, and couldn't do anything about it. I still had no idea what was going on.

When the ambulance finally got there, they put me on a stretcher and loaded me into the back. "Are you afraid of needles or anything?" asked one EMT. "Terrified," I responded, and she started an IV without hesitation. To this day, I don't know if that word actually came out of my mouth, but I'm so glad she started the IV. She started pumping pain medicine, but it didn't seem to be doing anything.

We got to the hospital, and the doctors there were going to treat me for a migraine and send me on my merry way. This was obviously not a migraine. When I could finally speak again, they kept asking if I was prone to migraines. "I've never had a migraine in my whole life," I would say. "Do you do any drugs?" they would ask. "No," I repeated over and over. At this point, I was fading in and out of consciousness, probably from the pain or the pain medicine.

At one point, I heard the doctors say that they couldn't handle whatever was wrong with me at our local hospital and that I would need to be flown somewhere. They decided on University of Maryland in Baltimore. My parents asked if I wanted them to wait with me or start driving, so I had them leave.

The helicopter arrived soon after, and I was loaded into it. 45 minutes later, I was in Baltimore. That was the last thing I remember. The next thing I remember was being in the hospital two weeks later. I had a drain in my head, a central port, and an IV. I honestly didn't know what had happened to me.

As it turns out, I was born with a blood vessel malformation called an AVM. Blood vessels and arteries are supposed to pass blood to one another smoothly, and mine simply weren't. I basically had a knot of blood vessels in my brain that had swelled and almost burst. There was fluid in my brain that wouldn't drain, which was why my head still hurt so bad. The doctors couldn't see through the blood and fluid to operate, so they were simply monitoring me at that point.

When they could finally see, they went in to embolize my aneurysm and try to kill the AVM. After a successful procedure, my headache was finally starting to subside. It had gone from a 10 on the pain scale (which I don't remember), to a 6 (which was when I had started to be conscious), and then down to a 2.

I went to rehab after I was discharged from the hospital, I went to rehab. There, I learned simple things like how to walk and balance, and we tested my fine motor skills to make sure that I could still play the flute. Rehab was both physically and emotionally difficult. I was constantly exhausted.

I still have a few lingering issues from the whole ordeal. I have a tremor in one hand, and I'm mostly deaf in one ear. I still get headaches sometimes, but that's just my brain getting used to regular blood flow. I sleep a lot and slur my words as I get tired. While I still have a few deficits, I'm lucky to even be alive.

Cover Image Credit: Neve McClymont

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5 Things Anxiety Has Prevented Me From Doing

I swear that on the inside, I am as outgoing as they come.

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On the inside, I want to be such an outgoing person. I want to talk to people and go out of my comfort zone–the whole nine yards. Sadly, I'm not like that, because anytime I start to be a little outgoing, a tiny voice in my head pulls me all the way back. And that tiny voice is named anxiety.

Here are a few things that voice has stopped me from doing.

1. Being in theatre 

I love to dance and sing and act out different scenes in movies... All in the comfort of my own bedroom at three in the morning. There have been so many times that I could have auditioned for "Rocky Horror" or "The Addam's Family," but something holds me back. And that something is a tiny little voice named anxiety.

2. Making friends 

I can't count how many times I have seen someone–or know of someone–and want to become their friend. But I can't even say "hi" because Mr. Anxiety has convinced me that they are going to think I am a freak of nature and laugh in my face. That being said, I have had the same classes with the same people since I started college, and I just started talking to them FOUR YEARS LATER.

3. Complimenting people

I love different, unique styles and think that people who dress differently are awesome. But I cannot bring myself to compliment someone's shoes because they may think I am a stalker or am obsessed with them. Thanks, little voice in my head.

4. Being a normal student 

I have failed exams because I can't bring myself to go to my professors for help. I sit through hour and 15-minute lectures with a full bladder because I don't want people to notice that I am getting up. I say that I didn't do my homework when I did, just so I won't have to talk in class. I can't be a normal college student because I am scared that everyone is judging me.

5. Expressing my opinion 

There have been so many times that my opinion could have saved me from wearing an ugly dress, gotten my group a better grade, or even stopped a fight, but I kept quiet. I don't say a word because what if people don't agree with me? What if they think it's dumb?

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