As far back as I can remember, I’ve been more susceptible to illness than the people around me. Every few weeks in high school, I’d drag myself out of bed and groggily stumble to my mom’s room to croak out a request to stay home that day. (Thankfully, she always obliged.)
In undergrad, I blamed my constant illness on my gross roommates, whose leftovers from the school cafeteria grew into their own personal biodomes in our refrigerator.
And, as a teacher, all bets were off. Germy (loveable) kids wanting hugs and high-fives and sneezing into open air meant that I was sick all. the. time.
So I learned how to prepare for colds and the flu and anything else that might come my way.
Hopefully your immune system protects you a bit better than mine does. But even if you hardly ever get sick—it doesn’t hurt to be prepared.
After all, law school slows down for no one.
Make a plan
This year, with COVID all around and so many cases presenting with only mild symptoms (81% of cases, according to the CDC), it’s more important than ever to stay home from class if you’re feeling even a little bit under the weather.
Ask your professors what help you can receive
Many schools, in an effort to encourage students to stay home when they’re sick, are offering access to class materials when their students need to miss a session. Some schools are offering video or audio recordings of classes, or at least making slideshows available for download.
If your school has a way for you to attend class synchronously and virtually via Zoom or other video conferencing services, ask your professors for advice now, while you’re healthy. If you’re too sick to sit at your desk at home, but are able to listen in, will they allow you to “attend” without your camera on?
Make a pact with a couple of friends
If you can’t make up a class by viewing a recording or other materials, you’ll need some support from your classmates. Check in with a couple of colleagues now. Offer to share your notes in the case that they’re symptomatic and need to miss class, and ask if they would return the favor. It’s good to have 2-3 of these “notes buddies” so that you can use the different notes to translate for each other (because between chicken scratch and shorthand, your friends’ notes can be hard to decipher).
Don’t get bogged down with what you missed
Classes will keep moving forward. You need to, too.
Stock up on supplies
Especially if this is your first time living on your own, make sure you have what you’ll need to get through a rough bout of the flu. Not only is it sometimes too hard to get in the car to pick up Nyquil, but it can be lonely being sick with no one to take care of you! The more prepared you are, the less awful the experience will be. (Probably)
Here are a few things I recommend having within easy reach when you start to feel crummy:
Food and drink
Sparkling water (or, if you’re a soda person, Sprite). The bubbles may help settle your stomach and the water can keep you hydrated so you can get healthy faster.
Herbal tea bags. Hot tea can keep you warm, clear your sinuses, and increase hydration.
Gatorade or Pedialyte replenishes sodium and sugar that you might lose during a bout of the flu.
Broth or brothy soup. I make a big batch of chicken soup every now and then, and I keep a few single-serving sizes in my freezer for when I get sick. If you’d rather buy yours off the shelf, that’s cool! Pick the one that will require the least work. When you’re sick, you might not even feel capable of using a can opener.
Saltines or oyster crackers. When you can’t really eat, but you have to eat something, these dry, bland crackers can be just what you need. I like oyster crackers because it’s easier to pop one into my mouth than it is to take a bite of a saltine.
- Nyquil and Dayquil
- Iburprofen and Tylenol
- Excedrin, if you tend to get migraines
- Cough syrup
Lip balm. Being sick can mean feeling dried out, and a simple lip balm can make a world of difference!
A thermometer. Keep track of your temperature!
A hot water bottle or heating pad. Especially if you live in an apartment that doesn’t heat up well, you might want the extra warmth.
A list of services and contact information. If you have a general practitioner, write their phone number down. Same with any other health care providers you might have. Save yourself the Googling effort later on. If you don’t have any standard health care providers, that’s okay—you’re not alone in that. If you have access to a student health center, their number should go on this list.
Your contact list can go beyond clinics and pharmacies, though. Is there a place you know has easy take-out you love? A delivery service that might bring you something you need? Write them down.
Tissues. This is your emergency stash.
A big bowl. Because sometimes you’re gonna get sick and can’t get out of bed fast enough.
Baby wipes. These can help you cool off when you’re running a fever or clean up spills when you’re drinking vegetable broth from a mug in bed.
This list isn’t exhaustive. You might decide there are other personal items you want to include. The key here is to plan ahead—don’t get caught off-guard! Do your best to stay healthy. Sleep, eat well, and exercise. but make a plan now for how you’re going to get through flu season academically and personally. The more you prepare, the easier it will be if you do come down with a bug.
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