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Sick at Stanford: A survival guide

Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

One of the worst feelings in the world is groggily waking up in the middle of the night to notice that there’s a sharp soreness in the back of your throat. You swallow a couple of times, hoping that it will go away, but it persists, painful as ever. You dump your head back on your pillow in resignation, knowing that in the morning you will most likely wake up with a full-blown illness.

Sadly, this experience is slightly too familiar to me. Last week, I had strep throat, and as I was downing my first antibiotic, I decided to tally up the number of times I’d been sick since the start of my freshman year at Stanford. I came up with seven.

Yes, so far during my career at Stanford I’ve been sick roughly once a month.

While I’ve had too many stuffy noses to count this year, my two-plus quarters at Stanford as a human incubator for disease have taught me a few lessons on how to survive college while sick. So, without further ado, here’s a list of ways to cope with this unfortunate reality.

  1. Drink tea (lots of it). If you don’t have any in your dorm room (I highly recommend keeping a stash), hit up CoHo for some pomegranate oolong or a nice steaming chai tea latte.
  1. Force your roommate (or friend) to watch an episode of some trashy, funny TV show with you. When I’m sick, nothing quite gets my mind off my virus and the work I’m not getting done like snuggling up in a blanket to watch a favorite show with a friend.
  1. Get yourself out of your dorm room (depending on the severity of your sickness). Yes, sometimes simply staying in bed can be the most helpful thing for a speedy recovery. But I’ve also found that if I’m feeling only slightly crummy, getting myself out into the sunshine can be a good way of forgetting about my sickness and remembering that there’s a world outside of my stuffy dorm room. Take a walk around Lake Lag (while it still has water in it) or stroll over to Tresidder and sit out in the sun with some good food.
  1. Call home (or long distance friends at other colleges). Your family and friends miss you, and talking to loved ones on the phone can actually make you feel a lot better. I find that talking to my family when I’m sick always makes me feel like I’m back in high school and my mom is taking care of me. You deserve a little extra love when you’re under the weather.
  1. Sleep (a lot). Naps are amazing. Enough said.
  1. Do something that gives your mind a break. For me, that’s reading my favorite books, or journaling, but this could be anything from (light) yoga to binge watching a show to coloring to knitting or listening to music. While it can be stressful to think about the work that you’re getting behind on, it’s important to let your body recover and give yourself the time to recharge.
  1. Finally, make future plans to do something fun with friends. This has actually helped me a lot while sick, because it gives me something tangible to look forward to. Having something fun planned in the near future, when you know you’ll hopefully be feeling better, can make your current state of physical discomfort more bearable.


Contact Julie Plummer at jplummer ‘at’

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