Dodging the Bullet: How Simultaneous Sickness Taught Me a Lesson

Jennifer Clogg '21

Jennifer Clogg ’21

By Jennifer Clogg, Staff Writer

It started with a cough. It progressed to a cough and a tickle in my throat. Finally, an extremely sore throat with the inability to swallow certain foods, a wheezing cough, and pain in my back and right ribs drove me to the Health Center. I was pretty certain that I had bronchitis (which I did), but was completely unaware that I also had strep throat.  The bronchitis came from staying up late at night too often, and the strep was generously shared with me by some theater kids.

The first real day of being sick was one of the toughest I have yet experienced at school. I couldn’t go to class, yet, despite being miserable, I still had to do. I didn’t have my own bed or my dog to cuddle with, and, most importantly, I didn’t have the love and care of my mom to help me have a speedy recovery. For the first time in my life, I was sick and completely left to care for myself. Sounds simple, but when all you want to do is lay and bed and watch Netflix while someone makes you chicken noodle soup and you’ve got to do it yourself, it can almost be enough to bring a sick person to tears.

When I got to the point where I couldn’t stand eating anymore easy mac and cheese and went to Servo with my friends for dinner, I felt terrible and was petrified the entire time of getting all of my friends sick by being with them and breathing in their general vicinity. Luckily, none of my friends got sick from me, and they are a wonderful bunch of super accommodating and understanding people. They were my support system when I was so sick, and for that I am grateful.

While I did miss my mother more than usual while I was ill, my friends did a pretty incredible job at being stand-in parental figures by contributing love, homework notes, and food to me until I was fully better. From missing two days of class, I learned a few important things:

  1. Make friends with the people in your classes, they will be some of your most useful connections when you have to miss.  
  2. Build relationships with your professors. If you get to know them early on, they tend to be quite a bit more understanding and more willing to send you materials on missed days than the ones who you did not take the time to get to know.  
  3. Too many late nights will eventually catch up with you. Whether it’s because you’re a late-night studier or a late-night partier, staying up late on the regular will eventually lead to a decline in your physical and mental health.  

In conclusion, my first time getting sick at school was not fun in the least, but included many much-needed learning experiences in self-care and self-advocacy, and showed a gap that I had not originally noticed in my college lifestyle. All of these aspects of being sick with not one but two brutal and painful illnesses will lead to changes in my high-paced schedule and my “yes, I can absolutely do all of the activities that I want to without crashing” attitude for the upcoming semester.

I have no desire to get that sick again, and part of that will be decreasing how full my plate is and how many nights I stay up past what my body tells me my actual bedtime is. Being sick was a necessary experience as I fully adjust to being a Bullet here in Gettysburg.  

Editor’s Note: This article is the fourteenth of our series “Dodging the Bullet: The First Year Journal,” in which The Gettysburgian‘s staff members from the Class of 2021 share stories, reflections, and perspective on their first year experience. You can read the full series here. (BP)

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Author: Jennifer Clogg

Jennifer Clogg '21 hails from Gaithersburg, Maryland. She intends to double major in English and Spanish and is undecided on any minors. Jennifer is an editor and planner of contests for The Gettysburgian. As a Gettysburg student, she plans to participate in theater and intramural softball. Fun fact: Throughout all of high school theater, Jennifer only played a female character once because she came from a very small high school with many more girls in the theater program than boys, leading her often to take male roles that the other girls were unwilling to fill.

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