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The Fun's Over - Being Ill at University

This week I was struck down with what only can be described as 'The Worst Chesty Cough Anyone Has Ever Had'. It was really bad; phlegmy, disgusting and quite painful.

When I was a young child, getting ill, through some form of cold or flu (so nothing too serious), was something nice to look forward to and get excited about. It meant the following:

a) A day off school

b) Lots of free lucozade, sweets, cakes and pastries

c) Love and attention from my Mum

d) The ability to watch any video I wanted, which was often Walking With Dinosaurs/Mammals (both truly excellent programmes)

As a kid this is essentially the dream. With very little effort on your behalf, you manage to get the day off school and lie around in a mountain of delicious, teeth-rotting food and parental love.

However, getting ill at university, through some form of cold or flu (so nothing too serious) is really, really shit. It means none of the above but rather:

a) Missing lectures and classes which you have to bust a nut to catch up on

b) No free lucozade; if I want it I have to leave my rotting nest to buy some

c) Love and attention from no-one, least of all my housemates (one of my housemates, on seeing that I had moved position when I was ill commented "oh, it's moved")

d) Sweat - and lots of it

e) A shitty internet connection that means I can't even watch the second series of Peep Show (the horror!).

It is no longer the dream but the nightmare, as you lie around in a mountain of sweat-soaked bed sheets, used tissues and cold apathy.

This week I was struck down with what only can be described as 'The Worst Chesty Cough Anyone Has Ever Had'. It was really bad; phlegmy, disgusting and quite painful. As such, I had to use all my cunning in order to battle it off. This included cauldron upon cauldron of lemsip, three cherry bakewells, four cups of tea, one bowl of porridge and two straight days in bed. Shit Virus 0 - Mr Kipling 1.

At school, the faintest sign of a runny nose, chesty cough, headache or just sheer boredom was enough to bring about the infamous 'ill' voice. "Mum" I would whisper in a barely audible croak; full of pain, suffering and heartache, "I really don't feel well".

At this point, my Mum would spring into action, revealing that, despite the fact she was a teacher, she had been feeding us all lies and was actually a fully qualified nurse, but just hadn't told anyone. My Dad was much harder to convince as he often saw right through me, except for the time he took me into work and I vomited all over his desk (good old porridge and food dye).

"OK then love, I'll get the lucozade. Do you want a Belgian bun too?" If you hadn't noticed by now, lucozade and a Gregg's Belgian bun is the perfect antidote to basically any ailment that doesn't actually require you to go to the doctors or hospital. My pretence about being ill, and my Mum's concern, would only last until about midday by which time we'd both accept that she'd been duped and I probably could've gone to school; evidenced by the fact that I was having a rather vigorous pretend sword fight with the cat, and jumping on my bed. However, it benefitted us both and she'd been able to have the day off too. Win, win.

But, all of this is different at university. I woke up on Monday morning feeling my chest clogged up with what only can be described as shit, or to use its Latin name: shitus maximus. My first thought was "Bollocks, I'm ill". I croaked "Is anybody home" but there was no response because I no longer live with a Mum (who's a secretly fully qualified nurse) but four other students who have all been ill this very year, and have business to attend to. I lay around for two days, not feeling sorry for myself, but somehow feeling very, very guilty that I was ill (it might have had something to do with my rather fun 21st Birthday celebrations the previous weekend).

So, people under the age of 18, you have been warned! Your paradise does not last forever! Make sure you fully milk being even the slightest bit ill and get that day off school you truly deserve because once you get to university, a runny nose (or arse) only means boredom, lots of reading, essays and recorded lectures to catch up on; not lucozade and twelve seasons of Thomas the Tank. Joy.

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