It was the spring semester of my sophomore year. I had reasonably good grades going into exam week, but good wasn’t good enough. Although I had a great chance of raising a few borderline grades, there was one problem: my four exams happened over three days.
As finals week approached, I started to feel a little sluggish. During any other week I would have taken a nap, but I was already in finals turbo mode. I thought the sluggishness was just my subconscious not wanting to study anymore for my Wednesday-Friday gauntlet, but it turned into something else.
When I woke up Tuesday morning, the sunlight felt like a thousand needles jamming into my eyes. I knew something was wrong, and as I journeyed to the bathroom, dry heaves turned my zombie-like shuffle into a sprint. I could not breathe out of my nose, and when I looked in the mirror, I saw a human train wreck.
The Flu. I had the Flu. During finals week.
Since the Student Health Center was conveniently closed during finals, I convinced myself that I was fine and continued my studies. Pills and syrups helped, but I was solely running on willpower.
Day one arrived: my Macroeconomics final was at noon, and I somehow dragged myself out of bed early to review. I ate one of the saddest breakfasts of my life: 2 Tylenol Cold and Flu capsules, a glass of water and Alka Seltzer, a Red Bull and a piece of toast. As the tabs and energy drink kicked in, I felt like a new man. The Macroeconomics final went as smoothly as possible, and I felt ready for Thursday’s two exams.
Then the meds wore off.
I spent the night in the library, and at around 10 p.m., I began getting cold sweats and hot spells. I ignored these feelings as much as I could, but eventually I decided to cut my losses and go to bed. When I stood up to leave, I fell right back into my chair. My night ended with a friend driving me home.
I was too stressed to sleep more than two hours. Thursday started with a similar breakfast, except I subbed out the toast for some fresh fruit. I thought the vitamins would ease the Flu symptoms, and I was right. In my American Literature final, I couldn’t have felt better, and I exceeded my expectations on the test.
After the Literature final came a new challenge: Statistics. This was the most pivotal test of my college career. With an 85%, I would get the B I coveted. My studying went smoothly, and I thought that my Flu was finally gone in the nick of time. As I packed my things and moved into the lecture hall for the exam, the light felt too bright and my stomach began aching. The ghastly reality hit me: the meds had worn off and I was still sick as a dog. I panicked. There was no time to get more medicine and I was locked in a room for two hours of torture. All I had left were my own thoughts.
You’re going to be fine.
The time passed faster and faster. With only twenty minutes left, I was finished. Now time to look over the test one last… uh oh. The dry heaves. They were back, and more ferocious than ever. There was only one difference between these heaves and the others: I had eaten a bagel an hour before.
I tore through the aisle and leaped over two confused freshmen. Thankfully, the bathroom was around the corner. Sparing some graphic details, I let it all out. I hugged my porcelain friend and thanked him for comforting me when I needed it most. As I reentered the lecture hall, 50+ eyes silently shamed me as I found my seat. The teacher gave me a quick look and allowed me to finish my test. I’m sure he was thinking, “Thank goodness he didn’t do that in here.”
After frantically re-doing a problem, I was finished. I was very uneasy about my grade, but the exam was behind me. I only had to worry about my Astronomy exam and the all-nighter that would precede it.
I met a friend to study for the 7:30 a.m. final. It was long, grueling, and full of more Flu medicine and Red Bull. We walked into the lecture hall with our heads held high and left the same. Later that day, we found out that we both achieved the grades we desired in that class. More importantly, I found out my Stats grade from the night before. I crossed my fingers for an 85%, and what did I get? 86%. I was elated; maybe some horror movies have happy endings after all. I dragged myself to bed and slept for ten hours straight. When I awoke, I felt better, like the sickness was starting to leave. In celebration, I did the only thing I wanted to do. I slept another 8 hours.
(Main image via collegemediamatters.com)