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Colds, Flus, Whatever-they’re-called

Urgh. What a horrible year. I’ve now been sick three times, which is unusually often for me, especially when you consider that each of those three times has been enough to keep me home from school (or would have been, but the first time was during the holidays—when I was playing basketball at the NZCA Easter Tournament. Anyway…)

The first two times seemed to be viral, and my natural suspicion was that this time it would be so too. The third time, however, led me to our family doctor, who suspected a bacterial infection. She seems to be right, because, so far, the antibiotics seem to be working. They’re relatively big and they’re orange and red and I’m not particularly fond of taking them (and I’m normally quite at ease with tablets), but if they’re helping me along, I’m not complaining.

Personally, I blame my first sickness this year on stress—that horrible chemistry extended practical they make us do, combined with some three other assessments that last week of term, that just about killed me. I blame my second on the unusually cold winter that swept us this year. When I raised my observation that sickness has struck me uncommonly frequently this year with my doctor, she had a different explanation.

It could be, she told me, because of the proximity that I have with my classmates, given that when seated in a classroom you are rather close together, and that you often touch things as desks and books that they touch. And, because students at my level, senior high school, take study more seriously, and need to be in their classes in order to keep up with their work, they are more likely to come to school even when they’re sick. So, there’s a good chance I caught each one off a classmate who had turned up to school despite being unwell.

In short, blame my classmates.

It’s not an unreasonable explanation. I’ve lost count of the number of attempts to communicate the message "do not send sick children to school" (read: in block capital letters) through newsletters or, for what it’s worth, special leaflets dedicated to that message. Though such leaflets are more to do with bed space than passing on sickness to students.

I should take a moment to explain my title. My medical certificate says I have a chest infection. I could just call it a "cold" (but a really really bad one); some would say "the flu". Well, to be honest, I don’t know the difference. Okay, I know that the flu, influenza, is caused by a virus, and causes muscle aches, so I can’t have the flu. I think the common cold is viral as well, but I don’t know if the "cold" is a real name or our generic name for anything that makes us feel like crap. I think I heard the word "bronchitis" somewhere in my doctor’s explanations—I’ve no idea what that means. Bronchi- is something to do with the windpipe, I think? Well, I’m sick with one of them. Who knows one from the other, anyway?

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