The eight stages of being ill at the University of York
The cold darkness of Yorkshire is upon us. The January blues have hit so hard that McDonald's are giving out free cheeseburgers (genuinely, they are) and we are all getting ill.
The flu, a cold, a large hangover from Refreshers' – we’re dropping like flies.
Getting ill at university comes in stages and we thought we’d break it down so that you know you’re not alone.
The first stage to basically everything, ignoring it. You wake up, your throat is a little hoarse, nose a bit sniffly but it could just go away. You’re definitely not ill, it's just that mornings are hard, right? You continue your day as normal making false promises like "yeah I’ll see you at Fibbers" and at this point you do genuinely believe this. Of course you’ll be fine this evening. However, slowly, steadily, you begin to wheeze, everything aches and all you want is your bed.
2. Telling everyone
Once you’ve accepted that you’re getting ill you must let everybody know that you are. Anyone who will listen, you will tell them you are getting ill. You’ll sniff and say "I think I’m getting ill".
You’ll make a joke like "I seshed too hard" or if you’ve spent too much time with someone from Derwent you’ll weep "they’ve given me asbestos."
Someone else will start declaring that they are ill and you MUST confirm that you AS WELL are ill and then you’ll compare symptoms and how quickly it is getting worse and that soon you just will not be able to carry on.
3. The forced isolation
You’ll regret saying all of this as soon as the first person says "stay away from me then." It’s classic. You feel like a leper. Infected and unwanted. You are forced to watch as those that are healthy look at you in disgust and not so subtly cover their mouth and nose when near you. This always happens ever so slightly before you are actually ready to withdraw and wallow in illness. If you manage to persuade people to be near you they will change their mind instantly when you sneeze or cough. The airborne germs will drive away your last remaining contact.
4. The self quarantine
Finally, you give in to illness and retire to your room. You lock the door and the quarantine time begins. It’s not so bad, you can binge Netflix and stay in your pyjamas without feeling guilty. If you’ve got an ensuite, you genuinely might not have to leave your bedroom all day, especially if you’ve got a stash of cookies in your room or a mate that’s kind or brave enough to enter the toxic zone and bring you food.
You start watching Sex Education surrounded by snot-filled tissues and send self-pitying Snapchats to those fortunate enough to be trusted to see you in such a state. You definitely text your mum notifying her that her poor precious child is unwell. You might even take a quiz to tell you what sort of brunch food you are and then get strangely offended when your result is fruit salad.
Netflix asks "are you still there" and you ask yourself the same question. Am I? Is my mind okay whilst my body totally shuts down? You begin to Google your symptoms and as the memes say, 10 minutes later you’ve every disease under the sun and your deathbed awaits. The meningitis poster they give you on the first day of uni is the only one that really scares you though and you routinely check yourself for rashes. At some point you think about contacting Unity Health but then again…no.
This is the longest stage and normally the most fun if we’re really being honest. It’s permitted time out from uni and time to kick back and forget the degree because heaven forbid one works when one is ill.
5. A tentative start
You’re hungry, you need to do washing, you’ve finished the eightt episodes of Sex Education so you test the waters, get dressed and leave your room. It’s fucking two degrees outside. Straight back to bed.
6. The lazy "recovery" period
This second stage in bed is the "adult" decision to not rush your recovery and take things easy so you can be fully better before you start tiring yourself. This is definitely code for being lazy and not wanting to return to normal working life just yet. This is proven by stage seven…
7. The end date to the illness
You’re definitely too unwell to go to your seminars but "I’ll be okay for the social on Wednesday, don’t worry" you tell your friends. There is now a time limit on your illness and you will bask in it until you no longer want to and miraculously there you are in Flares on Wednesday – the dancing queen. You look at your friends and say "thank God I got better in time!!"
8. The epidemic
After a mild delay from the hangover you realise you are healed and ready for your reintroduction to civilisation. You’re ready to have real friends and not just Maeve from Sex Education and you text the pals to welcome you back. You get the same response from everyone: "I’m ill, you gave whatever you had to me, you bitch."
And so it spreads… Happy January, University of York!