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Getting sick in college

cameliasinensiscameliasinensis Registered User Posts: 2,294 Senior Member
edited November 2007 in Parents Forum
I didn't think I'd be coming back here so soon after starting college, but I'm at a loss.

I've been healthy for a total of three or four days since classes started on September 26. I've paid numerous visits to the college health center, but the most precise diagnosis anyone has given me is "probably some sort of virus." I'm utterly miserable, drained of energy, falling behind in my classes, and showing no signs of getting better. What am I supposed to do?

Thanks in advance,
E.
Post edited by cameliasinensis on
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Replies to: Getting sick in college

  • michonemichone Registered User Posts: 417 Member
    I would go home and see your regular doctor. You shouldn't be sick for a whole month without getting better. My feeling is that you may have mono, but it's only a guess.
  • northeastmomnortheastmom Registered User Posts: 12,379 Senior Member
    Have you discussed how you are feeling with your parents? If you have medical insurance that would allow you to see a medical doctor off campus, it might be a good idea.

    If you are falling behind on an assignment, you might want to get a note from the college's health center and then show it and discuss the possibility of extending the due date with your professor. My son was ill on the scheduled dates of a couple of exams, and he went to the health center. His professors were very kind and set up alternative make up exams when he was feeling better. I was very nervous about the situation, but it all worked out.
  • bethievtbethievt Registered User Posts: 6,759 Senior Member
    Oh, cameliasinensis,

    Keep us posted. I'm an hour and a half away. I think your parents are in NYC? This is not ok--I guess mono is the best guess?
  • twinmomtwinmom Registered User Posts: 2,826 Senior Member
    Camelia,
    Have you had any blood work done?
  • weenieweenie Registered User Posts: 5,793 Senior Member
    My friend's kid had the same thing last year and her's turned out be some sort of generalized strep infection. Once she was on a course of antibiotics she was back to her old self (it relapsed once though). You need to see a real doctor - NOT the school health center.
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 12,993 Senior Member
    If you haven't had a throat culture (to test for strep) and a blood test for mono -- as well as other blood work to test for things that aren't infectious, like anemia -- you're getting inferior service from your school health center.

    If the health center is that incompetent, I would suspect that a lot of the upperclassmen know it and are using other doctors. One of them might be able to refer you to a doctor in the community.

    Another thing that might be worth doing is to sign whatever waiver you have to sign so that one of your parents can talk with the health center people. Then ask one of your parents to call up the health center and interrogate them. Your parents have several more decades of experience in dealing with health professionals than you do. Their chances of getting straight answers out of the health center -- in terms of what diagnostic tests they have done, what problems they have ruled out, what they recommend you should do now -- are better than yours. Middle-aged people have a lot of experience in not taking any **** (I put in those asterisks myself; substitute your favorite rude word) from doctors.

    The fact that you are falling behind in your work makes your problem an urgent one, in my opinion.
  • cameliasinensiscameliasinensis Registered User Posts: 2,294 Senior Member
    I don't have a regular doctor in New York since my family just moved there from DC this summer, and traveling to either isn't really feasible (I'm at college in rural New Hampshire). An upperclassman suggested that I get Safety & Security to drive me to the nearby hospital to see a real doctor, but I thought that seemed a bit excessive. In my 3+ visits to the health center nobody's brought up mono, but I suppose it's a possibility; I haven't had any bloodwork done, but I've been tested for strep and it was negative.

    I was prescribed antibiotics two weeks ago, felt better for three or four days, then got sick again after being off them for a day. Last week I was prescribed promethazine for nausea (I spent Thursday morning vomiting but haven't before or since) and an albuterol sulfate inhaler to clear up my airways, but I can't tell if it's helping.

    Current symptoms: runny nose, sore throat, coughing up phlegm, feeling generally sore and uncomfortable, temperature around 99.5 F (spiked to 101 on Sunday night), tongue feels sensitive and hurts when I eat, no appetite but have been forcing myself to eat regardless, TIRED (napping for 2+ hours in the middle of the day, passing out in class even after eight hours of sleep for the past several nights).
  • coureurcoureur Registered User Posts: 11,386 Senior Member
    I agree you need to see a real doctor about this. And my general recommendation is Get More Sleep. With parents no longer nagging them to go to bed and roommates tempting them with 2:00 AM expeditions out to get coffee or something, serious sleep deprivation is often one major life-style differences between high school kids and college kids. And chronic illness is all too often the result.
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 12,993 Senior Member
    Did they just do a "quick strep" test (the one where you get the results right away), or did they also do a throat culture (the one where you don't get the results for two days)?

    The throat culture is a better test. It sometimes picks up cases of strep that the other test misses.

    My daughter just went to her college health center on Monday (at the other Ivy League school that's not located in a city) with symptoms not all that different from yours, except that hers have only been going on since last Thursday and seem to be less severe than what you're reporting (she is NOT falling behind in her work, at least not yet). They did both kinds of strep tests as well as a bunch of blood and urine tests (although I don't know if a test for mono was included), and she is going back on Friday to find out all the results. She also got a prescription for medicine for some of the symptoms right away.

    By comparison, you are getting lousy service.

    Edited to add: coureur makes a very good point about sleep. When your body is trying to fight off a bug, getting more sleep than usual is essential. Napping during the day, when your schedule permits it, is a good thing. And try for at least nine hours a night, if your body will cooperate with sleeping that long.
  • acinvaacinva Registered User Posts: 616 Member
    It is not excessive to ask to be driven to a nearby hospital/doctor. Do it ASAP. Not getting better for a month is excessive in my opinion. Good luck.
  • teriwttteriwtt Registered User Posts: 12,525
    Since MRSA is in the news, this might be a good time to mention that, although you may have needed antibiotics (and still may need), the original one they prescribed may not have been quite the best one. It may have been good enough to start working on the little bugger, but when you stopped, it came back full force.

    This is not your fault at all, but this is one of the reasons why it's not only important to get the right antibiotic, and take it for the appropriate amount of time. Different docs have different standards, depending on what they think you have. I've had different docs prescribe different antibiotics, and different dosages and length of treatment, for basically the same thing (sinus infection). There are different theories out there.

    But since you felt better after being on the antibiotics, then got worse again after you stopped, that's a good indication that you have something bacterial going on, but just need the right antibiotic, and the right length of time to be on it for it to wipe the bug out.

    Also, don't rule out that someone you're in close contact with might have something that they're passing on to you, while they don't have any symptoms. This happened to me when my daughter had strep, with no symptoms; I'd get strep, take meds, get it again within a couple of days after finishing the antibiotic. I went through this for three cycles until our doc recommended getting the whole family swabbed. Sure enough, daughter had it, with no symptoms - once she was treated (and me again), it was taken care of.

    It could be several things, but mono should be at the top of their suspicions list. Doesn't mean you also don't have something bacterial going along with it.

    Is there an acute care center around your school? I know that thinking about going to the hospital seems scary and excessive, but acute care centers are kind of a step in between. You usually don't have to wait as long as the ER, and if you're in a college town, they're used to students coming in who feel their student health center isn't addressing their needs. If you do go to the ER, with symptoms such as yours, you could be in for a long wait to see a doctor, depending on what the other clinical resources are in your area.
  • cameliasinensiscameliasinensis Registered User Posts: 2,294 Senior Member
    The class I'm having the most trouble with at the moment is actually my studio art class (we're expected to spend two hours in the studio every day in addition to class time). Right now my grade in the class is a B+, which isn't terrible, but I'm beginning to fall behind on drawing assignments because I simply don't have the energy to complete them. My freshman seminar professor gave me an extension on our next paper, which I should be able to get done without much difficulty, and I've been able to keep up with the reading for my third class (anthropology). It's really the drawing class that's killing me right now.

    Edit: Marian, the strep test was one that took a few minutes, not a throat culture.
  • sly_vtsly_vt Registered User Posts: 774 Member
    You are very close to Dartmouth Hitchcock Medical Center. There are plenty of doctors in your area. You need to be seen by someone -- if you've had a fever and illness like this for this long, you are sick and in need of a good doctor.

    I'm about an hour away from you. If you want me to help you track someone down, I will -- PM me. I feel like I know you from this site, and I want to make sure you're OK.
  • Momof2sonsMomof2sons Registered User Posts: 502 Member
    My guess is mono---ask for a CBC and a monospot--sore throat, fatigue, vomiting
  • MarianMarian Registered User Posts: 12,993 Senior Member
    One more thing: You say your were prescribed antibiotics, felt better for three or four days, and then got sick again after being off them for a day.

    This doesn't sound quite right to me. It's too quick a sequence. Prescriptions for antibiotics are generally for ten days (although there are exceptions), and it's crucial to take all of the medicine as directed. You're not supposed to stop taking it when you feel better.

    Did you take your antibiotic correctly? If not, go back to the health center and tell them that you screwed up. (Actually, if that's what happened, THEY screwed up by not teaching you how to use the medicine correctly. But you might want to be polite and say it was your fault.) The health center might want to prescribe another course of antibiotic (probably a different one).

    Also, have you considered going on your own college's board here and seeing if someone there can recommend a doctor in the community?

    Edited to add: When you see another doctor or go back to the health center, I would suggest asking whether they can do a throat culture. As far as I'm concerned, strep has not been completely ruled out.
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