In Sickness and in Health (Centre) – by Hedwig

No, this is not me employing exaggeration as a literary device to be humorous. I have literally had it ten times in the past year. I’ve counted. And of those ten times, seven have been on-campus incidents, making the disease much less bearable than it usually is.

For those of you who didn’t opt for the Biology stream in XIth and XIIth (shame on you, says my great-grandmother, who still can’t get over the fact that I’m going to be a lawyer and not a doctor), tonsils are lymph nodes at the back of your throat that act as bouncers to the exclusive club that is your body. Sometimes, they get infected by the bacteria they’re supposed to keep out, and voila. You can’t swallow, speak or move for the next 7 – 10 (business) days.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

(If you’re thinking ‘oh wow, she should be a Biology teacher’, don’t worry. I’m on it. It’s my backup plan in case I ever tire of scoring through 500-page books, looking for one case name)

As much as it is fun to miss classes and watch one season of House of Cards a day, the first time I fell sick was a nightmare come to life. I was away from home, which meant I did not have my Mum to tell me what to eat and what not to eat, to give me my medicines on time and to generally boss me around in a way that I seemed to resent but was actually quite grateful for.

More importantly, it meant that I had to explain to a strange doctor what was wrong with me, all by myself.

Oh the horror.

(Serves me right for not picking medicine, says my great-grandmother)

I’m quite aware that when I fall sick I become 5 years old, as you might have noticed yourself, and it wasn’t until a friend pointed out that my skin seemed to be burning that I marched myself off to the Health Centre and finally explained to the doctor there what my symptoms were. When I came back a few days later, there was an entirely new doctor.

Oh the horror x 2.

By the time I fell sick for the seventh time, you can imagine I was quite well-versed in the art of taking-care-of-oneself; or, as my Mum called it, not dying. I’d fill my extra special 1 litre capacity steel thermos with hot water to drink on the go and make sure to get extra Vitamin C tablets from the Health Centre so that I could take two tablets per day instead of the prescribed one (that’s right, I’m dangerous). And even if I did give into my cravings for an Oreo Shake from the Amul store, I became exceptionally good at pretending like that never happened. That’s a talent I still possess. *

Last week I fell sick for the eleventh time. Just as I was filling my thermos with water steeped in tulsi and honey (I was home, and had to up the ante a bit), my Mum walked into the kitchen. Quite surprised at having caught me at my adult best, she raised an eyebrow while I triumphantly displayed my packet of Vitamin C tablets.

She extended her foot to open the freezer compartment, only to reveal a half-empty tub of cookies & cream ice cream.

I sighed.

Some things never change.

*Apparently not.