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The Plague

When was the last time that you stopped by GWU Student Health Services?  I know that personally, I’ve been 5 times first semester, and I just set up another appointment for tomorrow. Why, you might be questioning, do I frequent SHS? No, it is certainly not because I enjoy the scent of Purell and latex gloves.

Ever since arriving at school, I have been struggling with a bad recurring cold. The process goes something like this: get a cold, wait a week, still sick, go to SHS, take a strep test (the doctors always “sure” I don’t have strep again), get a call three days later, strep test positive, go on antibiotics, and repeat (substitute the occasional sinus infection).

Now, you might be thinking that I am some gross, unhygienic person who must never shower or take care of themselves. However, I get at least 7 hours of sleep a night, shower nearly every morning, and wash my hands all the time. So what is possibly getting me so sick?

If you go to GW (as I assume everyone who is reading this does), you may have overheard someone talking about the Thurston “plague”. You may be skeptical of the existence of said plague. But I think I am living proof that such a plague does indeed exist. What else could explain my committed relationship with SHS? Tomorrow will be our 6th date, and I’m really ready to dump them. What could possibly be living inside Thurston that is getting us all so sick?

Is it the black mold that grows on the ceilings of bathrooms, or the layers upon layers of dust that accumulate anywhere and everywhere? Is it that 1100 kids live in the same building, nearly on top of one another?

Unfortunately, I have no conclusive answer, and I sadly don’t think I’ll ever get one. All I can say is that if you’ve had the plague, I sympathize with you; I know how it feels.  And is you haven’t gotten sick yet: please, enlighten the rest of us with your tricks of the trade.

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Categories: Uncategorized
  1. February 6, 2012 at 11:27 pm

    Living in Thurston definitely gives me some dimension about this “plague” you are referring to. I live in a room with three other girls, which, thankfully isn’t as bad as I thought it would be. One of my roommates is sick almost every other weeks. Not even with minor colds, she has gone through numerable serious viruses, bronchitis, hives, strep throat and even had her tonsils removed over Winter Break. Even myself, a person with a pretty solid immune system, have been congested and coughing for most of my stay here.

    There have been many hypothesis I’m sure as to why this “Thurston plague” haunts everyone. I believe a large part of it is due to us being students and not getting the amount of sleep we require. Half the time we go out with hardly even a jacket on. Living in such close proximity with over a 1000 kids also plays a role in our health. Germs spread inexplicably quick, attaching to everything.

    I personally believe that a large part of contamination takes place in the elevators. Everyone touches the buttons and the walls. Through places like these, we the inhabitants of Thurston Hall, are pretty much destined to get sick.

  2. DM
    February 7, 2012 at 4:30 am

    I can thank Thurston for the extremely painful removal of my tonsils over winter break. I have always been a generally healthy person. But since the day I moved into a Thurston six-person room, it has all gone downhill. Black mold has grown in my bathroom since day once, forcing one of my roommates Michelle to move out, due to allergies. I had two cases of tonsillitis during first semester, as well as frequent stuffed nose and headaches. Each one of my roommates has had at least two serious colds/infections.

    In my opinion, Thurston is an old, unclean building, It should have been renovated years ago. But instead, they’re ignoring it and shoving 1,100 of us in here each year. Obviously college freshmen are going to get sick. Anyone living in big dorms like this is bound to come in contact with a lot of germs. But I have never heard or seen anything like this.

    Living in Thurston has been a great, and valuable experience. But I have no problem saying that I am beyond excited to live somewhere where I don’t have to be afraid of where mold is lurking, or if my wood floor is going to keep rotting. No matter how many vitamins you take, or how much sleep you get, you are going to get the Thurston Plague.

  3. February 7, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    As a student who went to boarding school, I used to live in a terrible condition that was similar to some of the GWU dorms. For example, my high school dorm room did not have a heater and we were in the middle of Massachusetts, in the mid winter.op once There would be leaks and floods when a heavy rain storms hit my high school campus. However, when a such thing called “plague,” was around my high school campus, it was usually the flu.

    What I learned from my high school experience taught me how to survive in the university dorms. When I got sick , it was probably because I did not eat healthy, or sleep enough. Or more likely because I slept in the hallway.

    As a student who is not living in a dorm anymore, here are my advices.

    1. It is important for your body to wake up and sleep i a cycle instead of thinking how much sleep we get. From my experience, I think that how much we sleep does really help or even matter. It is about what time we sleep and what time we get up everyday.
    2. Try to eat 3 meals per day.
    3 Do not smoke when you have a cold, and maybe cutting down on alcohol might help ( because too much alcohol will weaken your immune system.)
    And drink a lot of water and stop yelling at a party.

    No matter how many janitors GWU has, germs are brought from outside by the people like us.

    Maybe Thurston can start out with telling people to clean their hands after using bathroom, do not leave the pizza boxes and other food garbage for week, and to clean up their own pukes.

  4. February 8, 2012 at 9:37 pm

    When I first arrived to GWU, I was cursed with the Thurston “plague” for move-in week and the beginning of the first week of classes. The illness came over me suddenly and fiercely and no cold or flu medicine could stop it in its tracks. As move-in week came to an end and the first week of classes started, the bug that had terrorized my system for almost a week left almost as quickly as it came. One day I was buried under my covers, clutching my fever drenched stomach and the next, I was walking around and introducing myself to my new second floor family. In one way I view the Thurston “plague” as an initiation right to GWU, or college life in general. It serves as a slap in the face-like welcoming warning you to wake up and make you realize that you are in college now, and getting sick is an inevitable event to any recently independent college student. On the other hand, I blame the “plague” as a result of the black mold and congestion clogging the Thurston dorms and hallways.
    I have never been to the GW health center, but I am almost positive that I will find myself visiting the clinic before the semester is out. Living in Thurston is a wonderful experience because it forces you to integrate with students of different cultures and beliefs and experience the fast paced and in your face culture that college is all about. Thurston is a unique and beneficial experience because it allows students the chance to socialize with almost half the freshman at GW, and truly immerse yourself in the college culture. However, Thurston is also a hassle because such a high level of immersion inevitably results in sickness, exhaustion, and a complete lack of privacy and peace and quiet. The life of a college freshman varies for each person, but I believe every freshman needs to catch the equivalent of the Thurston “plague” in order to understand what made them sick, how they can get better, and realize that tackling an illness on your own is just one step on the path to independence.

  5. February 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm

    Coming from someone who doesn’t live in Thurston I thought it would be interesting to make a comparison. I live in Madison, with roughly 250 other freshman, so about a fourth of what people in Thurston experience. However during first semester, about 75% of our dorm was sick with anything from a mild cold to strep throat. I think it’s important to remember that living with any large group of people, illness is more likely to be contracted. We share the same elevators, vending machines, door knobs and breathing space in general. We are surrounded by these people constantly, providing more opportunities to pick something up than we would if we were hiding out in our own bedrooms at home.

    I personally have been able to avoid getting sick so far this year. Am I some kind of rare illness immune weirdo? Maybe. But more than likely it comes from growing up with a Mom who had a severely weakened immune system, where a common cold could lead to hospitalization. I learned how to take all kinds of precautions to avoid bringing home any kind of sickness. It’s possible that these habits have gotten be through this much of my freshman year healthy. It’s also possible I’m just lucky I live with roommates who have yet to get sick either. Either way, I’m happy to say SHS and I are still strangers.

    • ProfMyers
      February 9, 2012 at 10:48 pm

      Remember, too, that when you come here as first-years, you have this enormous population from all over the country coming in bringing all kinds of regional variations of viruses and flus and what-have-you into a new area. So things that already went around your high school and you are now immune to may be fresh for immune systems from other parts of the country. Your freshman year will probably be your worst year for illness – next year, you’ll already have some resistance to more varieties of communicable illnesses–though that’s just a guess. I wonder if there’s any data on rates of cold/flu/strep/etc. in college students by year?

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