There is nothing like a trip to the Amherst College health center to make you appreciate a trip to anywhere else. In my fourth year here I have grown to expect dismal service—the cranky receptionist, the contrastingly pleasant nurse with drawn-on eyebrows that asks me to wear a mask as soon as I walk in because she remembers me as swine-flu girl, the hopelessly inefficient sign-in system that requires me to enter and re-enter useless bits of information about my campus involvements and allergies to south Asian mammals (do they not have my medical history on file?), Dr. Ed’s awkwardness in explaining medication and treatment having to do with my nether regions, and ultimately the fact that other than a few aspirin pills, I will not be helped in any way and will undoubtedly be referred to UMASS for further treatment. Why did I even bother, I ask you, WHY!?
Nevertheless, I find myself there at least once per month in search of a cure for this or that horrible possibly-cancer affliction. This has driven me to wonder whether I am what one would have classified in 1879 as a “sickly” girl—someone destined to die of typhoid or tuberculosis at the ripe young age of 21.
Usually I have bronchitis (borderline pneumonia), but my list of ailments has included MRSA, shin splints, swine flu, regular flu (x2), the common cold (x4), and again MRSA. My When I was 2 years old I was hospitalized for an ear infection, my tonsils and adenoids were removed by the time I was 8, and I was on a strict regiment of allergy medication and a nebulizer until the early teens. Every time I exercise on land I leave bleeding from some surface of my body, and despite my diligent use of the netty pot my sinuses will never be clear after a dip in the pool. I am an athletic girl, but I can’t seem to get to a state of wellness no matter what I do.
It seems like I follow one antibiotic regimen with another, and in times of deep contemplation I wonder if the universe is trying to tell me something. In a state of deep depression many months ago I would have assumed that Fate omniscient was trying to tell me something. That I didn’t belong here in the land of the well, and that as a Victorian lass or a Mongolian sheep herder I would have died at age 2 when I was supposed to. I was lead to wonder whether my life was simply one dismal and drawn-out chapter in the Final Destination saga, and whether someday sickness would catch up to me and end the cursed nightmare of doctor’s visits for good. But now I am not depressed, I am actually quite happy. My hypochondriac super-ego self continues to scream from the depths of my soul that I was not meant to be here and now, but my educated Amherst sensibilities tell me that I should be thankful, simply thankful, that I am neither a Victorian lass nor a Mongolian sheep herder, and that Ed’s antibiotics, though inconvenient in their turning my urine a particularly electric shade of red-orange, will enable me to live another day. I am strong of will and strong of body, but you can’t have everything, I suppose.