"I came in right away so I could catch it early. I can't be sick. I don't have time!"
How many times do I hear this each week in my college health practice? Too many. The busy student gets one of the myriad viruses going around. They come rushing in to the clinic, wanting us to fix it immediately so they don't lose any time. Can't afford to be sick. Gotta get well immediately! Give me a magic pill and quick, doc! I've got a paper to write, an exam to study for, homework to do! You have to do something!
Well, guess what, kiddos? Sick happens. Especially when you stress your poor bod and its defenses by eating your meals at the vending machine or the drive through, sleeping few and erratic hours, and partying hearty on the weekends. Not to mention the "normal" academic and social stressors of student life.
Your body is not a machine. Unlike your computer, it can't just get rebooted and work like a charm. Unlike your car, it can't get a ten-minute lube job and be back on the road, purring smoothly. Your body needs ongoing care. And sometimes, it gets sick. Even if you care for it well, it can catch a virus. When that happens, well, you can't just "get in early and nip it in the bud". And truthfully, we can't help you much anyway.
Viruses are everywhere. The "common cold" is truly common. Modern medicine still has not developed a medicine that can kill any of the usual viruses. But here's where YOU hold the trump card. Your body CAN cure the common cold. That's what your immune system is for. And it works! Miraculously, eventually, you will get well. With or without our help. But you have to give it time. You have to be patient. You have to take a break from the rat race, slow down, listen to your body and take the rest it needs while it does its amazing cure job.
And maybe your body is telling you something else. Maybe you need to slow down, to stop and take some time to yourself, take a break from the whirlwind. That paper isn't going anywhere. The sun will still come up tomorrow whether you're in class or in bed. The exam can be rescheduled. Life goes on.
In these days of instant gratification, instant messaging, instant meals and drive-through everything, we forget that our bodies are part of the natural world, which doesn't function in gigabytes and nanoseconds. Nature belies a quick fix. And, when you're flattened by a virus, you learn the primitive truth. Nature will out. Might as well relax and give it up.