Everyone gets sick in the first month of the semester, right? Well, I truly believed this when I came down with a cold last fall semester. My colds always begin with a sore throat, progress into a terrible runny nose and end with a terrible cough.
I slowly made my way through the stages, but the cold just seemed to linger forever.
I felt embarrassed in class with each coughing fit and held on to the hope that it would simply fade away with time. However, the third week in with no relief, my friends and roommates wanted nothing more than for me to just go to health services. My poor roommates listened to my terrible coughing through the entire night and I felt incredibly guilty for causing them to lose sleep due to my own poor health.
A terrible pain in my side and the belief that I had an enlarged spleen instigated my last visit to health services the previous spring, where I received a paper bag of Tylenol and the advice to take three pills every six hours. This Tylenol dosage sounded like overdosing to me, but I followed the instructions anyway. I returned home for the summer the following week and saw a doctor who ordered X-rays and a CT scan, eventually finding the beginnings of pneumonia and prescribing me an antibiotic. I still feel as though health services neglected to try and discover what truly caused me pain, and I felt determined to never visit health services again. The long wait times make the place incredibly unappealing, and the impression they gave me of limited knowledge regarding my health did not make me want to go back.
However, I changed my mind this fall when I had to leave my tutoring job early due to an excruciating pain in my back and side. Though I had believed I had a cold and it would fade eventually, this day convinced me otherwise. I could hardly move without pain, and when I finally got back home from my tutoring job with the plan to lay down and take a nap, I couldn’t even lay down on my bed without a sharp and aching pain shoot up my back. I had to take the advice of my friends (and my mom), and I knew the time had come to visit health services again.
My experience at health services for the second time went much better than the first.
The lady at the appointment desk made me feel extremely welcome and cared for, and when I finally got called back by the nurse, I discovered I had pneumonia again. The past month began to make sense, and I knew I had misjudged the abilities of health services.
I left with a prescription for an antibiotic, and the next day I successfully made my way to CVS and left with the prescription. For quite a while longer, I dealt with the worst cough, but the pain in my back slowly faded away. I began to feel more energetic throughout the day as well. My roommates certainly felt grateful I had ended my multiple coughing fits each night and I felt thankful, too.
This fall I learned the importance of prioritizing my own health over the stress of college life. Juggling five classes and two jobs in addition to extracurriculars meant I just didn’t want to take the time to go all the way to health services to solve a seemingly silly cold. But I learned something new from this experience: never neglect your health for a busy schedule.
My pneumonia could have progressed into something much worse if I had waited any longer to visit health services. Your well-being and health should come first, and realistically you cannot do a good job in your commitments if you don’t feel healthy and energetic. Listen to your friends and loved ones because sometimes they know what you need better than you do, and the earlier you learn that life lesson the better and healthier you will feel throughout your entire life.