Marginalia, Graduate Blog

I’m Sick & I’m Busy. What To Do When the Goin’ Gets Tough.

Jenn Tatum

It will happen. You’ll be plugging along with your semester and then BAM—you’re sick. It’s bound to happen. A student is sick, a classmate is sick, a co-worker is sick, and eventually in the midst of the busiest week, you get sick. That’s me, right now. So, what does a graduate student do when all they want to do is be under the covers, sleeping or curled up with some tea and soup watching reruns of The Wonder Years? Well, folks, here’s what you do.

First, if it’s a runny nose situation, buy good Kleenex. This is not the place to be cheap when sick. A red, chapped, sore nose will only make things worse, and it’s just plain unsightly. I recommend Puffs or Kleenex brand with aloe. It’s soft and smooth, and it will heal your nose, rather than rip it to shreds.

Got a sore throat? Drink Tea with Lemon and gargle with warm salt water. These simple home remedies will at least make you feel better and sooth that sore throat.

Got a cough? Carry cough drops. This is especially good for when you’re teaching, because there’s nothing more annoying than having a coughing attack right in front of your class. They’re hoping you don’t cough anything at them, and you’re just embarrassed because you know you probably did.

Also, treat yourself. I like to have ice cream or a yogurt when I’m not feeling well. And, I drink my weight in orange juice. Also, pop some vitamin C or a multivitamin (something to think about doing anyway, since, as a grad student, you’re bound to be sick, because you’re not getting enough sleep and you’re around a lot of people all day).

And, I think the best advice is not to worry. Don’t stress. Maybe you won’t be able to do everything at 100%, but everything will get done. Being sick means you need rest. I went to bed at 10:30 last night, because I was feeling so horrible that I just couldn’t keep my eyes open. I never go to bed at 10:30, more like 2:30, but a few extra hours of sleep and my body did function the next morning, still not at 100%, but it functioned.

The important thing to do is to take care of yourself. Don’t skimp on the stuff that will make you feel better.  And relax, because you will get it all done. It’s just a bump in the road. I have to tell myself this, in order to get everything done, because the moment I get stressed out, the sicker I get.

And, I think, sometimes I get the best ideas for writing when I’m a little under the weather. The mind does crazy things when you’ve had a little NyQuil and you’re not at 100%, so take advantage of any bonkers ideas that pop into your mind when you’re sick. Write them down! You never know what could come of a little cold. It could be something wonderful on paper.

I’m Sick & I’m Busy. What To Do When the Goin’ Gets Tough.

It will happen. You’ll be plugging along with your semester and then BAM—you’re sick. It’s bound to happen. A student is sick, a classmate is sick, a co-worker is sick, …

Creative Writing - Nonfiction MFA Jenn Tatum, jtatumcotamagana@colum.edu
600 S. Michigan Ave. Chicago, IL 60605

The Graduate Experience