Widgets Magazine
The plague: No one’s really safe
"The Danse of Death" (1493) by Michael Wolgemut. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The plague: No one’s really safe

What do the flu, mono, tonsillitis, strep throat, bronchitis and pink eye all have in common? Within the past few weeks, all six of these infections have traveled around my dorm. We were hit with the plague, and it was spreading faster than I could down a cup of Emergen-C, something for which I honestly should have been awarded an Olympic gold medal.

Alas, my efforts to boost my immune system were futile, as slowly but surely, the plague overcame me as well.

It started out with just a feeling of lightheadedness, but I knew exactly where this was going. Next came the chills, and then the desire to spend five hours of my day napping (which I fulfilled), followed by dizziness, the inability to safely bike and a sore throat so painful that I could barely drink water without wanting to cry.

And the worst part of it all? Being here, in a dorm room, without my mom to take care of me, forced to still attempt to function enough to keep up with my classes while listening to my friends enjoying life down the hall. I didn’t even come close to getting the worst of it compared to some of the other people in my dorm. I mean, there were people who could barely get up to walk to the bathroom. But even in my less extreme state, I still felt like a 1347 European victim of the Black Death.

The most frustrating part was that I tried so hard not to get sick. My floor was the one infected with pink eye, so I purposefully wore my glasses instead of my contacts for several days so I wouldn’t be tempted to touch my eyes. Every time I walked through the floor below me (with about half of them in bed with the flu) I covered my nose and mouth with my shirt so as not to risk inhaling any lingering germs. I washed my hands every 10 minutes. I was consuming more Airborne tablets than I’ve ever had in my entire life. All of that, and I still got sick. Just like practically everyone else. Maybe we should blame our PHE.

The part that really gets me is the speed with which these diseases started to hit everyone. There’s always been at least a few people with the sniffles or a cough that just won’t go away, but it was as if my dorm was in a horror movie and some invisible power was going through and picking people off one by one. We weren’t alone in it either; I’ve talked to several people who said the same thing was happening in their own dorms, just perhaps not to the same level of severity.

It’s starting to seem like it’s pretty much impossible to not get sick once an illness starts going around. If it’s not in my dorm, it’s in my 9:30 a.m. lecture, as I sit in a stuffy room surrounded by coughing. No matter how much effort I put into staying healthy, to a certain extent, it’s all really just out of my control.

It’s unfortunate that I’m never really safe, especially away from home without my easy access to chicken noodle soup and lots of TLC. For anyone braving a literal sickness during Dead Week or feeling sick to their stomachs from thoughts of impending finals, just be glad that, at the very least, none of these illnesses have gotten the best of you, and you’re not actually dead.

 

Contact Kassidy Kelley at kckelley ‘at’ stanford.edu.