In Sickness and in Health
What’s interesting about uni life, or even academic life starting from high school, is that those rush of deadlines come seemingly out of nowhere. For a few weeks, it seems almost like easy cruising, your expected to just go to lectures, take notes, go to tutorials and participate. However, in the course of 2-3 weeks after that, you’d realize you’re waist deep in a quicksand of assessments and feel that if you don’t kick yourself into overdrive, you’ll soon be going under. After the onslaught, everything grew calm once again, only to be shattered again towards the end of the semester.
In those moments of overdrive, you just can’t be sick. Unfortunately, fate likes to play games, and suddenly yours truly was piled in not only assignments, but also abdominal pain.
It was Easter Break, back last semester. I felt satisfied finishing all assignments before the break started on time, and hopeful on the set of assignments to be done over the break. My family came over to celebrate Easter together, there’s an exciting camping trip coming up, all was looking up. Tuesday rolled around just after Easter Sunday, and my family and I ate lunch at a very good burger joint. Later that night though, after a long day out, I felt very queasy and tired. And while lying down, I felt something coming up my throat, quickly got up only to witness myself barfing for the first time in years. Shortly after that, I strangely felt a lot better, and I was a lot more energized. Little did I know the dread about to come..
For the next several days, I had very little sleep, waking in pain at around 4 am and struggling to get back to sleep. While it is thankfully still within the break, I simply cannot concentrate on anything else due to the lack of sleep. The fact that I persisted in going on the camping trip did not help at all. This is very bad considering the ~2000-word group literature review to be handed in after the break, as well as another computing assignment. With nothing being done in the week, I had very little time (if at all) once the semester resumes, to finish my work and hand it in on time. One of my group mates recommended that I file for Special Consideration, though without a proper visit to a GP or hospital (and at this point I though the pain would go away eventually), I decided this wasn’t a good idea. Of course, it wasn’t a good idea to do nothing, as they do expect me to help out, hence I started putting in as much as I can. Over the weekend, I did manage to chip in, though not as much as I had hoped. I’d say I fared better in the computing assignment, as the concept is less abstract and I was able to complete the assignment quite quickly.
After a painful Sunday night before the semester resumed, I called the OSHC hotline and was advised to go to the Emergency Room, where thankfully the doctor said that it was simply indigestion/gastritis (suggesting that my craving for Indian food probably contributed to this). With the prescribed medicine, the pain subsided over the course of the first week back.
With everything going back to normal, I did learn a couple of things:
- This was my first real “sickness” while living here, so I did not really know what to expect. While Australian PRs and citizens get the benefit of Medicare and thus do not have to really worry about treatment costs, things can get complicated for international students such as myself, even with private health care. While there are certain smaller private institutions and GPs that can directly debit the health care provider (including the Uni’s health service), you’d typically have to make a booking in advance. As for anything larger (even public hospitals), if you’re an international student, be prepared to pay for everything – treatment, consultation, medicine and all – in advance. Fortunately, the entire amount can be reimbursed through your private health care provider, though it can take some time.
- Considering that you’d likely won’t need to pay out of pocket, it might be favorable to consult a GP early if you experience symptoms of sickness. This is beneficial since they can actually tell if you need any treatment, and more importantly if you do need to delay your uni work for a short period. This advice can help you in getting a Special Consideration on your assignments, for the sake of some breathing room while you’re not feeling well.
Hopefully this advice and cautionary tale can help you get back on your feet quickly if you do get sick!
P.S. Sorry for the really large vacuum of posts over the semester. Second year is exciting, but also tough at the same time. Just thinking about it does excite me, so I might actually make another post about this. 🙂