At Being a Sick Adult

Being the loyal, dedicated, observant and stunningly attractive readership that you are, you’ve probably noticed that this week’s post is a little on the late side. That’s not because I forgot about you–far from it. I actually went on what you might call a short research 20140118-123410.jpg
sabbatical for THIS VERY POST. What kind of research sabbatical can a blogger go on, you ask? Well, let me ask you something: what better way to research being an adult with a temporary illness than to actually get sick?

… Actually, I can think of lots of better ways. Internet research. Reading library books. Visiting a sick friend while wearing a surgical mask and taking detailed notes while making them chicken soup. If I could have chosen one of those, I would have, but sadly my choice hasn’t really been involved in many decisions I’ve made recently.

I’ve been out of commission for the past eight days with a stomach virus. This has been not fun for lots of reasons, but one of the biggest ones is that this is the first serious illness I’ve had away from home. I’ve figured out that there are going to be very few people in my life who will want to hang out with me no matter how sick and contagious I am. One is my mom, the other one is my thus far imaginary future husband, and neither of them were with me last weekend.

Being sick sucks. Hopefully you never have to get really good at nursing yourself back to health–if you’re sick that often, please start taking some vitamins and go visit your primary care physician to figure out if you have something more serious–but just in case you end up catching a winter bug, here are some ways to make the whole experience less miserable.

What is not sucking? Not sucking is defined in the world of temporary illness as being able to adequately care for one’s self while in the midst of a flu, cold, or other bacterial or viral infection without going insane or causing a local epidemic.

1. Gather supplies beforehand. Try to always have things like over the counter medicines, a thermometer, Gatorade in your preferred color, tissues, tea and saltines on hand, especially during cold and flu season or if you live in close quarters with roommates. If you don’t know what kind of over the counter meds to get, call your parents and ask.

2. Perform self triage. Staying home sick from work or college classes has MANY more implications than taking a Ferris Bueller day in high school. If you have a fever, you’re finding your digestion to be more eventful than usual, you have a bad headache that doesn’t get better after a normal dose of ibuprofen or you generally have symptoms that are going to mess with your ability to perform normal activities, you’re probably better off staying home. This is also true if you have a bad cough. If you’ve just got a bad case of the sniffles or some irritating cramps, though, take some meds and suffer through the day. Your GPA and/or performance review will thank you later. (Note: that sniffles thing might be a little different if you work in food service. I’ll take my Subway sandwich without the snot, thanks.)

3. Get evidence. Selfies don’t count. If you’re in college and you know you’re going to miss class because you’re sick, get to a doctor and get a note. Attendance policies vary between universities and individual professors; this is where it pays to read your syllabi. Most workplaces won’t require you to get a note from a doctor, but if you have health insurance and you suspect you might be sick, a visit to a primary care clinic rarely hurts. That said, if you have an exam, those are nearly IMPOSSIBLE to get out of or delay. Suck it up, go, take the test and be satisfied with the knowledge that you probably infected your professor.

4. Do what the doctor tells you. Unless, of course, your doctor has extra arms made of flexible metal. In that case, you should run far away from your doctor and consult Peter Parker instead.

5. Take it easy. If you take a sick day, really take a sick day. Go to bed. Drink lots of fluids. Read books, watch movies, binge on your favorite TV shows. You, my feverish, sniffling friend, have just stumbled upon a rare opportunity: a few days of adult life in which laziness is tolerated and even encouraged. Indulge in it.

6. … But don’t forget you have a life. That life is going to begin again with a vengeance once your doctor’s note expires. Make sure you’re reasonably keeping up with your assignments from bed, and ask friends in your classes for notes as soon as you’re healthy.

7. Know when you’re beat. If you have a fever of 104 degrees Fahrenheit or more, you find it difficult to keep liquids down, you’re having chest pains or difficulty breathing, you’re hallucinating, there is blood coming out of places blood should not be coming out of or you feel genuinely afraid of what could happen if your symptoms continue, it’s time to go to the emergency room. Enlist a friend to drive you if you can. If there’s nobody around to drive you, STILL DO NOT CALL AN AMBULANCE unless you are absolutely certain that a) there is not one more single person you know who could drive you to the hospital, b) you cannot drive yourself without causing some kind of accident and/or c) you’re going to need care on the way to the hospital. For more information on when to go to the emergency room and when to call an ambulance, visit this page.

Feel better, readers! In the meantime, take a minute to like this page on Facebook and follow us on Twitter @hownottosuckblg.

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2 thoughts on “At Being a Sick Adult

  1. This is so relevant to my life right now. I just got diagnosed with mono, so I’ll definitely take all these measures closely. 🙂 This is Sam from the bus by the way!

    • Thanks for commenting, Sam! 🙂 I’m glad this post was useful to you, haha, but I’m sorry you’re sick! I had mono when I was a junior in high school–it is definitely not fun. Get lots of rest and feel better soon!

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