When I got sick in middle school or high school, I loved missing classes. Sleeping in my cozy bed all day while Mom brought soup and ginger ale was the height of luxury, and it never had any real consequences. I had to make up maybe a page of math homework and read for a history class that I was already acing.
Piece of cake.
But that tune changed in college.
I had to miss about six weeks of classes last semester due to a serious illness. It was neither ideal nor fun, but I made it out alive and still kept my grades afloat. Listen up kiddos: Missing college classes is not the fun vacation it was in high school. My slice of cake has now turned into an entire multilayer cake of five or six classes, each with their own pages of homework and reading due by the time I return.
Turn that few days into a few weeks? That cake becomes a buffet of work.
My spring semester of 2015 started out like any other semester. Sylly week slid into my DM’s and classes had their usual anxiety-ridden requirements. Things were going swimmingly.
But just after spring break, I began to feel sick. It wasn’t your average cold or stomach bug, either. I had developed folliculitis and cellulitis in my bikini area due to an unfortunate shaving incident. The pain was so unbearable I couldn’t walk without looking like a cowboy that had just gotten off a long horse ride.
I went to the OB-GYN to see if they could help me because I had no idea what I was dealing with. The doctor said it was a staph infection and prescribed pills and promised some big things: “You’ll be better within a few days.”
Not even a few days had gone by before the horrendous pain took me back to the OB-GYN to ask for a reassessment. The other doctor took one look at it and with astonishment, said, “I’m sorry but there’s nothing I can do–you really should have gone to Mount Nittany [the hospital] right away.”
Just what every girl wants to hear after going to the gynecologist for the second time in her life. They diagnosed me at the hospital and I was bed ridden for two weeks. My family came up, and my boyfriend was by my side every night. I had visitors every once in a while, never telling them actually where the infection was because, well… it was very embarrassing.
I was on heavy painkillers and an assortment of medications before they found one that finally started to heal me. Thankfully the hospital had good gluten free pasta or else I would have had broccoli and chips every night.
It’s the little things that made a big difference.
After my hospital stay I trudged home with a PIC line in my arm and 7 pouches of IV medication that my mom had to hook me up to every night for an hour.
Yet another week of classes missed.
I emailed my teachers begging for mercy and more time on any and all assignments. My parents went to student affairs and told the woman there my story. She emailed all my professors, asking them to cooperate and work with me. Most of my professors were kind and understanding–except for one. My economics teacher at the time didn’t believe I would be able to pass the class and asked me to just drop it and try again. This was already my second time taking economics and I wasn’t about to take a third swing at it.
Instead, I put my brain into overdrive and started learning everything I missed–which was like trying to eat the whole multilayer cake all at once. I made notecards and Quizlets, went to tutoring and studied my a** off. I had very little social interaction when I was at home and in the hospital–which was a blessing in disguise. At the end of the semester, I passed all my classes.
I stuck it out and got to have my cake and eat it, too.
There was a happy ending to my tragic story. Even though I still have to live with the scars that my infection left behind, there’s no scar on my GPA.