#24 Being Sick In College

Becoming sick or ill during college is inevitable. The dorms, classrooms, and the facilities themselves are usually a petri dish for spreading all variants of viruses and colds. If you manage to go to college and not get some sort of sickness within a semester or two, you might have the best immune system in the world! Anyways, being sick in college can be extremely rough. You are living independently and can’t depend on other people to do work and choirs for you. This post will talk about my experiences of being sick in college and what I recommend to prepare and do when you are sick.

Getting sick in college is usually not a thing you hear people saying you need to learn and hear about before it happens. Most of the time you just get sick and deal with it as you got. However, with the amount of work and responsibility you have at school, it is important to always be prepared so that you don’t fall behind in your work and so that you can recover as fast as possible.

The first thing is having everything you need. For me, I always keep mediation such as Tylenol, Advil, and ibuprofen in my room. These simple things are what I consider the necessities. These things come in handy for just common headaches, soreness, or inflammation that might occur throughout your semester. For me, playing a sport has made this crucial to my inventory.

The next thing to do is make sure you have a plan for when you get sick. I don’t mean to have a written protocol of what to do either. I mean to just have ways of getting things that need to be done in a way you can. This includes having a friend’s number in a class that you are taking so they can share notes and inform you of what is happening in class. The other thing to have in your plan is to know how to be proactive and to whom. This includes knowing what professors to email for work and being able to cancel meetings if needed. Being responsible while you are sick is just as important as being reasonable when you are healthy. Sometimes, you are just going to suck up how you are feeling to complete the tasks that need to be done first.

I made this mistake when I was a freshman in college. During my second semester of college, I came down really sick with a cough, headache, stuffy nose, and everything that made me feel like crap. I remember I woke up and it was just hard to even move. I knew I couldn’t sit in class all day so I emailed my professors that I couldn’t make it. I got the work sent to me from other people within the class and I managed to make my way to the athletic training office to see what I should do. Keep in mind that this was before Covid so people weren’t as strict as they were now about being sick and staying inside. When I went to the office they called for an immediate appointment at student health services. I was directed not to go to practice that day and try and take the day off. When I went to the health service office they tested me for everything under the sun, but I came back negative. For the next week, I felt the worst I have ever felt before. I was tired, beat up, and had no motivation to do anything. I began missing classes and even missing a quiz. By the end of it all, I managed to miss an entire week of chemistry class and half a week of Biology including a quiz.

After this week, however, was spring break. I wasn’t going to get the opportunity to go home because of participating in spring sports, but little did I know I was going home anyway because of the pandemic. My school sent out an email stating everyone must leave the campus within 3-4 days and that we can return a month later to continue in-person classes. I will save this story for another blog though.

All in all, being sick in college has definitely changed a lot since the pandemic. There are now resources and tools you can use to virtually be in class and to be honest, professors are more lenient on missing class because of illness. Before the pandemic, you had to be there no matter what otherwise it was your fault. Now it is recommended and encouraged to stay home. Who knows how long this will continue but, it sure makes it a lot easier for students when they become sick.

#22 My Car Got Towed And It Relates To Biology

This past weekend, I was in Philadelphia, seeing my brother who lives there. It was a very exciting time because I don’t get to see my family other than holidays and breaks during my undergraduate years. I had lacrosse practice in the morning and immediately drove 45 minutes south to have lunch with him. Finding a spot in Philadelphia is usually not very hard, I park in the designated areas and pay the parking fee which is only a few dollars each time. On this Saturday I did the same thing as always. I found an area I have parked in before and I parked in front of the “no parking here to corner” sign. I got out and paid the $3 fee and went out to lunch with my brother. When we came back to my car only an hour later I was astonished to find my car wasn’t there. This is the story of how I got my car back and how this relates to being a Biology major.

Whenever I park in a spot I always make sure I am extra cautious to park in a legal and safe area. This is mostly because I am a college student with not much money to pay parking fees and go through all of that trouble. I did the same thing on this day as well. I parked in front of the “No parking here to corner sign”, a fairly common sign all around the country. When I got out and observed where I parked I used my phone to pay for the parking fee, something I have never done before. Usually, I would walk to the middle of the parking zone and pay at the kiosk but, this day I was excited to see my brother and figured it would be easier and faster. As I walked away from my car I got a weird feeling as passed a parking officer heading the opposite direction. I thought about turning back and double-checking but again I was too focused on meeting up with my brother.

Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

As we sat down to have lunch the idea of my car slipped from my head. I was having a normal afternoon with nothing to worry about. After about an hour or so of talking and catching up, we decided to head back to my car to drive back to Arcadia University. As we walked down the road happily getting ready to leave, I turned the corner to where my car should have been only to see a space. I stopped in my tracks wondering if this was even the road I parked. I double-checked the street signs and even triple-checked them. I told my brother “I parked right in front of that tree, that one right there!” It was not there. The realization that either my car was stolen or my car was towed began to set in. I wasn’t upset or angry I was more of just frustrated with myself as I looked up the middle of the street and saw a sign about 20 yards from where I parked. It said, “Here to corner, Consult parking only.” I was towed…

Trying to solve the situation, me and my brother called the number on the no parking sign to figure out what we had to do next. As we stood on the sidewalk, looking as if we had no idea where we were, we got ahold of an impound lot in south Philadelphia. We gave them my license plate number and they said “yep, we got it. A 2009 Jeep Patriot.” They provided us the address to come and pay the fees and hung up immediately. My brother looked at my trying to provide me moral and mental support on what was happening but, I was okay. I wasn’t heated, mad, or upset. There was nothing that crying, yelling, or getting mad at was gonna do. I put myself in this situation and there was nothing I could do but look for solutions and that is what we did.

My brother ordered an Uber to take out 3 miles south to the impound lot. On arriving I was met with a barbed wire fence and an office with four windows. As I walked up to the window the woman asked me “What can I do.” You can tell she didn’t like her job. I can only imagine the number of people that come into that building every single day yelling and asking why they towed their car. Just as we talked about in blog #7 Struggle Of Learning In Healthcare, part 2: Legitimacy, she has a job to do and she is just trying to make a living. She is a professional in her department and a customer should give the utmost respect and coordinate at all times. This is exactly what I did. I asked her how her day was going and tried to be the best customer she has had all day. When she asked me to provide her with ID I said “yes ma’am” and when she asked if I had my Insurance and Registration I said “no ma’am.”

After providing and paying a $226 parking violation and towing fee, I was able to collect my car. I had to collect my Insurance and Registration from my vehicle and provide it to a different window first. After all of this work, it was only about 35-45 minutes from the moment I realized my car got towed. I was upset about the money, as I have been saving for other reasons but, I tossed it up as a loss and mistake I made. Money will always come back. The thing I was most upset about was that I was missing my girlfriend’s soccer game, something I couldn’t get back. Luckily, I managed to get there as the game was ending and stay after with her friends and have some fun.

So, I am sure you are asking yourself how the hell is this related to Biology. When my car was being towed, the last thing I was expecting to do was write a blog post on how my current experience relates to my major. But, after running the situation back in my head over and over I began to realize the similarities of what I did and how they can have a positive or negative effect while studying in school. I will make this list nice and short so that you don’t have to listen to my story again 🙂

  1. Always double-check when attempting or doing something new. When I was paying a parking fee I was using a new app. I didn’t pay much attention to things I usually would have, such as the consult-only parking sign. Just like when studying or conducting a lab in school it is vital to follow each procedure in detail. I found a shortcut with the phone app and thought I can skip all of the things I did previously but, I was wrong.
  2. If you feel like you did something wrong or right, you probably did something wrong or right! This is very similar to the previous example but, listen to your gut. When solving a problem or even reading a textbook if something feels off, something is probably off. Double-check all the time as this extra time that is usually very short can save a bunch of work in the future or even a bad grade!
  3. Stay cool, calm, and collective. I have said this one in many previous blogs before but, this is one of the most important things to do while being a Biology major or any major. No problem is going to be solved if you are crying, yelling, or extremely upset. Instead, take a deep breath and realize that to just about every problem there is a solution. You just need to find it. It took me and my brother less than an hour to get my car back because we didn’t harp over the situation but, instead got to work and began to problem solve. In Biology, you are going to want to cry, and sometimes it is okay. Just know, however, there is a solution to your problem
  4. Be respectful. This one goes without saying but, being an angry customer or student doesn’t get you anywhere. No one wants to help out the pissed-off and moody individual. Everyone wants to help out the person that is kind and respectful. This goes the same with your professor and fellow students.

#21 Getting An EMT License

Watching action shows where heroic men and women come rushing in blaring ambulances to save the lives of serious trauma and disease was something I grew up watching in numerous Hollywood productions. Never did I think that I would have the opportunity to be that person in real life until It was my senior year of Highschool. Getting an EMT license wasn’t something that I planned on doing for years prior but, it kind of just happened. It fell into my hands, as many things do in life, and I just kept running with it. Because I kept running with it and doing more I have been able to succeed in areas I wouldn’t know how to.

After committing to a Physician Assistant direct entry program my junior/senior year of Highschool, a lot of pressure came upon me to meet all the requirements put forth for the graduate program. This included obtaining a high science GPA, cumulative GPA, GRE scores, shadowing positions, letters of recommendation, and direct patient care hours. Honestly, the most terrifying category of those requirements was the direct patient care hours, and here is the reason. A GPA and GRE score you can work extremely hard to do better and meet the requirements, But, obtaining direct patient care hours doesn’t matter about how hard you work. It matters about the opportunities you come by and the people you know. The smartest and most hardworking person can be a Pre-PA major but, fall short because they didn’t have the opportunity to work directly with patients. This EMT license was like the golden ticket for someone in my situation.

So, my senior year of Highschool, instead of signing up for an AP Biology course, I signed up for an EMT course. It was an extra period long but, I knew the outcome of this decision would be greater than having an extra lunch period in Highschool.

The first couple of weeks of class were interesting, to say the least. There were about 20 kids that signed up for the class (the maximum) and by the end of the first week, there were 16. This wasn’t because of the difficulty of the course but, it was because these people didn’t realize what they signed up for. They didn’t realize they signed up for blood and all of these life-saving techniques that can be used in scary and life-threatening situations. Throughout those first couple weeks, we focused on the law of being an EMT. Things such as how to document properly, what is proper care, what can you do and what can you not do, and basically how not to get sued. This part of the class can be boring at times but, I have used this part of my training more than one might think. I have gotten myself out of some pretty sticky situations in the past (I will share in another blog).

For the rest of the year, we continued to do pretty standard EMT coursework and training. This included ventilating and putting NPOs in practice manikins. The range of things we did was fantastic and the thing I liked most about taking it through my Highschool was that the period we had to learn and practice all of these things was longer. I was able to perfect all of my skills, studies, and training before the exam and before I was set off into the real world. One of my favorite skills to do was blood pressure. It was probably the most basic and least trauma-related of all of the ones we practiced but, there was something about it being so variable every single time that captivated my interest. You always had to be focused to assure an accurate measurement.

From the course, I received a few different certifications. I received certifications from FEMA such as a hazardous materials cert. and I received my first-aid and CPR from the course, all on top of my EMT license. All of these licenses and certifications were rewards of my hard work and provided me with the necessary tools to tackle real-world patients and obtain my direct patient care hours.

To obtain the final license, however, you had to go through a few different testing. First off you had to get better than an 80% on every single test throughout the year to take the county exam. If you reached the county exam you then had to score a 75% or better to be eligible to take your physical and state exam. The Physical exam consisted of about 10 different scenarios ranging from trauma to disease-based patients. In each situation, you had to do conduct yourself in the right manner while getting everything correct. The only way to pass is if you passed all 10 stations. If you passed your physical you can then take the state exam where you need to score a 75% or above and only after you score a 75% or above are you licensed in the state of NY as an EMT.

This process was extremely time-consuming and somewhat difficult but the opportunities and stories that I have gained from it are truly incredible. I couldn’t have asked for a better situation. Everything worked out great for me and if you ever get a chance to do something similar to me, I highly recommend taking the opportunity.