No matter where you go, who you are, or any other circumstances, I think we can all agree: college is insane, and that’s lightly putting it. It’s all thrilling, a game of can we all survive on caffeine and no sleep?, but I’m here to tell you that it’s really not that way. I balanced out fifteen-twenty hours working, classes, gym time, homework and a mediocre social life last semester, so I thought I could do it again this semester. I signed up for one more class than I did in the fall, and none of them are jokes. I ended up in the library often, doing homework and munching on a bag of carrots for lunch, scheduling my life for SI sessions around work, gym time on free days, and was up until at least 12:00 finishing up work each night, something I hadn’t done in high school.
About two weeks ago, I was in the middle of class when my lower right side was hurting. I had no clue what was going on, so I told myself it was a weird case of PMS and moved on with my life. Two days later, the pain came back on my lower left side, but more intense. I almost walked out of Italian, unable to handle a fast foreign language and the unknown pain. I called out of work and went to VCU Student Health, running into half of the 13th floor of Rhoads and their norovirus. A doctor quickly saw me and trapped me in her office for almost two hours as she ran extra tests, but everything kept coming up negative. She told me to get rest and see her the next day.
When I came back the next day, nothing had really changed, and she was still unsure of the cause. I went to the All Time Low concert that night, beyond excited to see them, but all night I grabbed my side and wondered what could be going on. I spent the rest of my weekend, lying in bed with my heating pad. My friends and pharmacists suggested I had an ovarian cyst and told me to get an ultra sound, but that didn’t make sense to me. Cysts don’t jump from side to side.
“Sean what if I’m dying?”
“Then I’ll go to your funeral”
Last Monday I felt better, so I went to the gym in the morning, and the pain was there, but not as badly. Tuesday it came back on again strong, and felt it on my hips and back. I didn’t know what to do, and napped with my heating pad again, praying it would disappear. Wednesday night, I experienced bladder discomfort and pressure, and I’m thankful my mom took me to Patient First. The doctor ran more tests, and showed up with an actual piece of information that made sense, “The protein level in your urine is a 3 when it should be a 0 or 1 at most. You’re not getting enough protein, so your body is taking it from muscle. You’re not get enough sleep, meat, or vegetables, and you’re stressed out. This is actually very typical of college students.”
I felt a mix of emotions when he told me this: Mad that my quasi-vegetarian and health obsessed lifestyle was biting me in the butt, aggravated that I could’ve easily stopped this but didn’t, glad this was something that could be fixed without medicine, and annoyed that it wasn’t caught sooner.
My mom brought me a McDonald’s sausage biscuit for breakfast the next morning, and I was a little annoyed at first, since I don’t like meat in the morning, but then shut up when she asked me “How else are you going to get your protein?” . She had a point, the doctor clearly told me what I was needed to do to get better, and going back to my diet of eating copious amounts of fruit and granola aren’t going to get me there. (Note: I’ve been on a super protein, lots of rest regime ever since and am on the road to 100%!)
Despite the stress of college and work, it’s important to actually take some time out and take care of yourself. Go to the gym, do homework, take a breather, have fun, and EAT OUT OF ALL THE MAIN FOOD GROUPS AND DON’T PICK AND CHOOSE (your uber obsession with fruit will bite you in the butt). Going out late at night is fine, but don’t do it all the time. Pizza Hut really shouldn’t be your breakfast, lunch, and dinner, especially with a Subway so close. What I’m trying to say is watch your overall health, keep everything a balance, and if you’re vegetarian do it right. A tough life doesn’t end after college, so you might as well learn how to manage it now rather than later.