Friday, October 21, 2005

It's Sick Time

This year has been a bad year for my immune system. It seems like throat infections and colds have become pretty frequent, though they usually don't last very long if I take it easy. I think I especially get sick when the weather changes, and thus I am reminded of the cold that came upon me about a year ago after returning back to 40-degree Paris from a vacation weekend in low-80 degree Nice. When I got back from school the Tuesday after, my French "host mother" advised me to go to the nearby pharmacy and get some sort of pain-reliever tablet with Vitamin C. Ah yes, I remembered, the French supposedly have a pharmaceutical answer to every ailment. This contradicted my intuitive sensibility, which has always been that colds can't be cured, they just have to run their course.

Sitting at home about a year later, just recently diagnosed with mononucleosis, I can look back on that day and understand how, even if the product I purchased in France wasn't a cure for the common cold (because nothing is), it was still important that I took the time out of my day to go buy it. To be honest, I'm not completely sure that I have mono, because my school's health center has been known to make some diagnostic mistakes, and I am not drastically fatigued the way a typical mono patient is. Even so, I have a bad sore throat, and I am made to wonder why it always takes the discomfort of cold symptoms to give us pause and cut our schedules back. And then there are the energetic (or crazy) people aren't even deterred by cold symptoms.

Getting sick a lot at college has made me especially attuned to the risks people take with their health (while still continuing to make the mistake of taking these same risks), some as second nature as taking a sip from a friend's glass or eating snacks out of the same bowl that many others have eaten from. Then there is the busy schedule. One of my friends just did a photo project for a class on a student whose day runs from 5 AM until 2AM. That of course is extreme, but the idea of packing as much into a day as possible, of constantly running around, of being over-committed, is as second nature to a lot of people as is breathing. I'm both lucky and unlucky that my body gets rundown relatively easily: it prevents me from over-committing in activities or staying up all night to write a paper. I tend to plan ahead because I fear the cold that I will get from pulling an all nighter or having a day where things are back-to-back. Yet, I still can't avoid it. I often get to Friday thinking, next week will be calmer. Next week I'll have time to collect my thoughts.

Now that I am forced by this mono to plan around my cold instead of my committments, I am also forced to revalue the importance of taking time for my health. I have to say though, I am a little frustrated with the lifestyle that is perpetuated that you have to be as busy as possible. I wish I lived in a culture that valued more balance, that didn't make chossing between one's health and one's committment such a difficult choice. Then again, to a certain extent, it is a choice that is up to the individual.

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