The Sickest I’ve Ever Been

by Rachel on November 18, 2010

Last week, when I was laying in bed with Eric and catching his cold, we were discussing the sickest we’ve ever been. My sickest story? That’s easy. It was when I was a junior in college: Greek Week 2007.

Greek Week that year was a nightmare. I was one of the Greek Week chairs for the first time, and I was also the VP of Recruitment for the first time. Two high-pressure, everyone-is-judging-your-decisions positions. Plus, my best friend Julia was in her first semester as chapter president. Between the two of us, that meant a lot of leadership and grace under pressure was required.

In the weeks leading up to Greek Week, several catastrophic events — by sorostitute standards anyway — took place.

  • We discovered that a popular member of our house, and the heart and soul of our “MTV Night” dance team for Greek Week, was actually…pretty damn shady. As in, she had been living in our house for two semesters after she failed out of Michigan State. We didn’t know because she got around turning in her grade report, and, you know, she pretended to go to class every day. She told us about her exams and walked to campus with girls from our house — only she then got on the bus and headed to the community college where she was actually enrolled. Her boyfriend didn’t know. Her father didn’t know. When we found out, we were like, Holy shit — someone is pathological. We had to kick her out of the house, which meant our Greek Week team was at a huge disadvantage. I was just hoping other chapters didn’t find out and try to take away our Greek Week win from the previous year, as she had obviously played a part and had been ineligible.
  • We had winter recruitment that year, and I was in charge. Early in the semester, I pissed off our 150-year-old Southern Advisor when I sent out the recruitment info to the girls and sort of reminded them that they may want to get spray tans and bleach their teeth of Christmas break. I was sort of kidding. She wasn’t amused. I had a lot to prove to her.
  • Another popular member of our house was in some deep shit for banging a guy in the public area of the house. It probably wouldn’t have been a huge problem (I know), but I guess she had come home with two guys (I KNOW), and they had stolen the antique chair from our foyer. Our house mom was pissed and wanted this girl kicked out — but Julia was taking most of the heat for it. Our house was completely divided, and there were a lot of outraged and teary emergency chapter meetings.
  • One of the most outspoken members of our house, a close friend of mine and someone who could always be trusted to say what needed to be said even when people didn’t like it, was studying abroad that semester. I needed her guidance during recruitment (she had run it the year before) and we all needed her during the several debacles that ensued. But alas, she was there only in spirit, and via e-mail.
  • I was living in a room called “The Barn” and behaving like an animal. Five girls shared this room, and we pretty much never got any sleep. Since I had spent the previous semester spending literally every day in bed eating my feelings, watching “Grey’s Anatomy,” and weeping — Julia would come home from class, open the blinds, and, as I recoiled at the light, would ask me if I had gone to class that day, even though the answer was pretty obvious — I was ready to get back in the game. This just meant drinking a lot. But hey, I wasn’t sitting at home feeling sad about a guy anymore!
  • Oh, and that guy who had broken my heart and sent me straight for the Grey’s fest? Well, after a semester of trying to get over him, I decided, Nope! Just not strong enough! and said we should still be friends. I kicked off the new semester by sleeping with him. Two weeks later he told me about the other girl he was sleeping with. Because we were friends, and you tell your friends things like that.

OK so actually this could be called “The Saddest and Most Pathetic I’ve Ever Been” but that was just what happened before Greek Week. During Greek Week? That is when I got sick.

See, that guy who was sticking it in everyone was also a Greek Week chair. Not only did I have to see him at all events, meetings, etc., but his frat was teamed up with the sorority that was our biggest rivals. (Sorry Kappa Delta — we will always just hate you.) That meant that as we hung out daily and I tried to salvage our relationship, I was also constantly fighting with him about all the unfair crap that was happening behind the scenes. We didn’t trust the Greek Week Leadership Team and my house knew they had a huge boner for Kappa Delta.

Then my house got caught up in a huge cheating scandal. Apparently one of the fraternity members of our Battle of the Bands team was a grad student. The frat considered him a regular member and we didn’t even know about it. The rules were quite vague on eligibility and grad students, but other teams were crying foul. So we turned to the Greek Week constitution looking for answers — only to realize it was a pisspoor document (that I would rewrite the next year when I joined GWLT in an effort to try to fix some of this bullshit). Eventually, my house was docked major points.

At this point, I had begun to realize I was getting sick. For the most part, my body was the last thing on my mind. I had been out of vitamins for a while, and I remember thinking I should stop by CVS to get some, but between all my Greek Week responsibilities, plus partying and — oh yeah — class, I did not have a single moment to buy any. After Relay for Life, during which we all stayed up for 24 hours to kick off Greek Week and raise money for cancer, my illness went to a new level.

The night we found out we were being docked major points for the Battle of the Bands incident, my guy “friend” called me, drunk, at 2 AM. He proceeded to scream at me for 45 minutes straight. He called me a “Fucking cheater!” and screamed, “How could you do this to me? THIS IS SO UNFAIR!” approximately 20 different ways. Had I been less doped up on the NyQuil I’d borrowed from someone, I may have said something like, “You fuck every sorostitute you meet and tell me about it because we’re ‘friends’ — do you really want to talk about unfair?” But I didn’t say that. Why? Because I was still in love with him. And also? Because I no longer had a voice at that point.

He screamed at me until his phone, mercifully, died.

I still didn’t get any rest or vitamins. My cough got worse.

A few days later, Greek Week was over (we got second place, despite all the drama) and it was time for me to start packing because I was leaving for Rome on Spring Break in a few days. I was trying desperately to catch up in the classes I’d been skipping, so I still hadn’t recovered from my illness. Two days before I was set to leave for Rome, my cough had gotten so bad that a bunch of blood vessels in my eyes had burst to the point that I would frighten small children. But no worries! I was fiiiiiiine! I was excited for Spring Break!

The day before I was supposed to leave, I was absolutely miserable. Still going through my massive to-do list, I called one of our advisors to chat about our chapter. I think that she was the first adult — and the first mom — I had talked to in a while. And she did what any mom, or any rational person outside the Greek community, would do: she told me that I was in no shape to get on a plane for eight hours and fly to another country.

Just like that, it hit me. I had been so wrapped up in Greek Week and my ridiculous life/behavior that I was oblivious to the fact my body was falling apart. I hung up with her and called the airline. I was sobbing, both because my throat was on fire and my eyes looked like a character’s from “Where the Wild Things Are,” but also because I was exhausted after the weeks of pressure when I had been trying so hard to hold it together.

Luckily, I was able to push my flight back a day. The next morning, instead of going to the airport, I went to urgent care, where I was diagnosed with many ailments, including a sinus infection.

When I think of being truly sick, I think of that Greek Week. It makes this cold I’ve been battling feel like nothing. I learned a lot from Greek life, and that was the semester I learned that your body shouldn’t be sacrificed so you can say yes to everyone.

(It would take me several more months to learn that you shouldn’t stay in love with people who scream at you when you have a cold and fuck other girls. But I did figure it out eventually.)

{ 29 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Diane November 18, 2010 at 10:15 am

I remember your Spartanette post about this! That was the coldest fucking winter I have ever experienced. The sickest I’ve ever been was Christmas 2006, when my sister gave me stomach flu on December 24, after I mistakenly used a blanket she’d left on the couch from her 24-hour vomit fest. The only good thing to come of the experience was the purge from junk food during my two-week recovery. A true “I’m just one stomach flu from my goal weight!” moment.

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2 Lisa @ I'm an Okie November 18, 2010 at 10:16 am

I had an ex boyfriend who pulled the same thing that girl did. It was before we dated, but he told me all about it. He got kicked out of Oklahoma State and pretended to still go there only to go to the comm college. Pretty crazy!

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3 Rachel November 18, 2010 at 11:01 am

Crazy!! Who are these people!?

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4 Lauren November 18, 2010 at 10:16 am

This week, coincidentally (or, not?) was also the sickest I’ve ever been.

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5 Rachel November 18, 2010 at 11:01 am

@Lauren — I feel like you’re always the sickest you’ve ever been!

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6 Carolyn @ Lovin' Losing November 18, 2010 at 10:18 am

THAT is some serious drama! I thought we had excitement when I was in college. I got really sick once with bronchitis and was leaving in a week for Honduras. I realized I lost (threw away) my passport and had to get my boyfriend to drive me around to get a new picture and then to the post office to apply for a new one (expedited). I spent 10 yrs. w/ a passport photo where I looked like I was dying (felt like it, too). Said boyfriend broke up with me the day after I returned from Honduras, BTW. But…I met my now husband 6 weeks later. :)

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7 laura dishes November 18, 2010 at 10:23 am

OMG I love re-living other people’s (and my) sorority days! Which sorority where you in? I was a Tridelt. :)

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8 Rachel November 18, 2010 at 11:02 am

I was a Sigma Kappa!

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9 Lori November 18, 2010 at 10:28 am

What *is* it with Kappas? They were our rival too!

And… just wow. Thank you for triggering my own flashback to college, those glorious years of self-abuse in so many fantastic ways. It was the time of my life, but I don’t think I could survive it again.

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10 Brittney November 18, 2010 at 10:36 am

LOL! That was quite a recap! I was a KD. I swear I’m cool though ;)

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11 angela November 18, 2010 at 10:38 am

I don’t know how you handled all that pressure while being that sick. I’m guessing being young and used to no rest played a part in it.

I’ve had a couple of ridiculously sick times that I compare every cold to and they’re never anywhere near as bad. The time my ear exploded and the time my throat was too infected to eat at all? Yeah. Everything is nothing compared to those. ;)

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12 Connie November 18, 2010 at 11:12 am

This is interesting because I got a cough like that once (around the same age) and it was hardcore. I was having my first art show ever and I was staying up all night, breathing in various paint vapors, smoking pack after pack of cigarettes, and finally my body just gave out. I spent the first day of my opening sleeping all day. The cough was so atrocious that I literally woke the neighbors with it at night.

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13 marie November 18, 2010 at 11:17 am

ohhhh Greek Week- also you were NOTHING compared to the Hilter-esque proportions we had for recruitment. We had to go through dress checks to get all of our outifts approved, mandatory Spanx, teeth bleaching, spray tans, manis/pedis/hair appointments. Our outfits all were matching BTW and VERY specific as in “style #132493829084230498 Lilly Dress for Day 1” followed by “Rock n Republic denim with Ralph Lauren Cashmere” day 2. I went broke veryyyyy quickly during this time of year…I miss my sorority sisters but I do NOT miss the sorority drama

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14 Elizabeth November 18, 2010 at 7:21 pm

Funny how those crazy recruiment days are some of my most vivid days! The year my good friend, Hailey and I were in charge there was one night when I literally slept 30 minutes. I somehow got through the day. That night at voting when a girl told me I looked tired my sorority drama girl bubble burst and I yelled like I’ve never yelled before. Afterwards I went in a closet and cried my eyes out. I was a very sick tan sorority president that first week of classes after recruitment.

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15 Lauren November 18, 2010 at 11:36 am

I loved reading your Greek Week story. I’m glad to hear almost everyone experienced the same sort of hell that I went through while in college, including being the sickest I have ever been and still going to fraternity parties… SMART! I am a KD from a New England school but I did marry a Sparty so maybe that helps my coolness factor. ;o)

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16 kate November 18, 2010 at 12:07 pm

aww hope you feel better! I can relate to every.single.one. of your Greek Week memories.

the spark of our major dramz one time was a similar situation- the girl moved into the house and pretended she was going to live there, but secretly kept her room on campus (luckily, she was actually a student!). after a month or so (without having paid her house dues) she randomly packed up and moved BACK to campus because it just “wasn’t working out”. the best part was she was on Exec and we couldnt come up with the money for her spot so the entire chapter had to pay for it and cancel one of our fall formals. SO MANY teary chapter meetings.

and yes OMG MANDATORY SPANX!!! hahaha miss the sorority days.

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17 Meghan November 18, 2010 at 12:14 pm

OMG. Those are some of the most ridiculous (and awesome) stories that I’ve ever heard. Literal LOL several times. But not gonna lie, it makes me kinda happy that my school isn’t Greek. ;)

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18 Jessica November 18, 2010 at 3:19 pm

I started off reading this blog thinking “Ooooh, Greek Week! Nostalgia!” and ended it with “Damn. I do NOT miss that shit.”

I’ll be honest, I don’t know how the hell you did Greek Week chair AND VP of Recruitment. Props to you.

The sickest I’ve ever been was definitely around the end of rush week (I don’t care if it’s not P.C., every sorority girl wants to call it that!) junior year. We had a bounce house and a huge inflatable water slide to celebrate the end of the week. I, of course, went on the slide NUMEROUS times despite operating on four hours of sleep the whole week, feeling sick, and it being a chilly night. At one point the slide collapsed onto the bounce house and it was chaos. No one was hurt although I think I broke my finger… but never got it checked out. There was more drinking to be done! And yeah, the following week I was sick as a dog. What a way to start classes.

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19 Rachel November 18, 2010 at 3:30 pm

Oh THAT brings back memories! The week after rush my senior year, when I was still VPM and doing it in full force, I stayed up all night after Preference, too wired to sleep, eating junk food and waiting for our bid list. The next day, still feeling happy recruitment was over, I had three Preference desserts (these raspberry cheesecake things) topped with WAFFLE FRIES (I know…). Then Julia and I went to get sodas and I got a fountain Diet Coke the size of a swimming pool. Chugged that. On the walk home, I realized I didn’t feel so good. Barfed it all as soon as we got back to the house. I spent the night of Bid Day in bed, running to the bathroom, while our new girls were partying downstairs. It was horrible!!!

Ahhh…memories.

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20 Jasmine @ Eat Move Write November 18, 2010 at 4:10 pm

It’s a testament to how awesome I think you are that I read this post. :p I hate “Greek” stuff. I have an extreme aversion to anything related to sororities. That said, it also broke my heart into little pieces to realize you were a junior in college in 2007.

Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.Iamnotold.

Clearly, I have issues.

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21 Rachel November 18, 2010 at 4:13 pm

Awww, I take that as a serious compliment that you put aside your hatred for Greek life for me!

And I transferred and took time off, so I’m older than most of my college friends — I should have graduated in 2007! I was almost 22 when all that happened!!

youarenotold. youarenotold. youarenotold.

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22 Jasmine @ Eat Move Write November 19, 2010 at 6:58 pm

He he. This is the internal dialogue that went with it.

Types in rachelwilkerson.com.
“Oh no! Not Greek life, ew!”
Clicks away.
…But, it’s Rachel and you think she’s awesome.
But, it’s GREEK stuff – you hate that stuff.
…But, it’s Rachel, she’s really cute, can write like nobody’s biznatch, and she’s brown. You are so down with the brown it’s not even funny.
“Okay, fine.”
Clicks back.
Reads.
Dies because you were in college in 2007.
Comments anyway because you’re a rockin cool chick.

end scene. :p

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23 Triz November 18, 2010 at 4:52 pm

OMW! Well, you certainly have the makings of your next book (or screenplay?) right in this post. I’d buy it for sure!

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24 Alison November 18, 2010 at 5:50 pm

I one time took tylonol on an empty stomach and did the saaaame thing to my eyes puking my guts out…then instead of taking ‘two weeks’ to clear up (like the doctor said) it took TWO MONTHS to go away…in the mean time I started my semester abroad and had to introduce myself to all my new friends as the ‘girl with zombie eyes’ ……oh girl, I feel your pain.

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25 Rachel's Mom November 18, 2010 at 10:20 pm

And then you came home because you couldn’t stay at Sigma Kappa for an extra day only to awake and find our house flooded the next morning and your family all away in Florida taking the first vacation they had taken in five years and you had to call the fire department to unplug the cords that were sparking as they soaked in the flood waters…..

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26 Ellie November 18, 2010 at 11:22 pm

What a story! It sounds just awful to experience at the time but is remarkable in the retelling. My most memorable sickness story was from when I was studying abroad in Paris and we were on a field trip for my program to Krakow, Poland. It was over Valentine’s Day and we celebrated the holiday by drinking an irrational amount of beer out of those 3 liter tubes and the next morning we had a field trip to Auschwitz. That night we had dinner in a Polish restaurant and I woke up at 1 AM and spent the rest of the night throwing up. At first everyone thought it was food poisoning but it was the flu. I had to pretend I was not too sick to fly out the next day so that I would not have to stay back in Poland, nearly passed out on the plane, and got sent back to the dorm practically delirious in a taxi to spend the next day tossing feverishly in my dorm room. Then everyone else in my program got the stomach flu too — we called it the Cambodian plague because the dorm we were staying in at the international student campus in Paris was “Maison du Cambodges.”

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27 Rachel November 19, 2010 at 9:22 am

Oh WOW, I can only imagine how sick you must have been on that flight. YIKES.

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28 Carolyn @ texaseats November 19, 2010 at 12:02 am

Your mom’s addition even added to the chaos! When it rains it poors (and apparently floods).

I’m in a business fraternity. Imagine the drama involved in a co-ed frat. Breakups and drunken hookups always make for a fun awkward recap at the next brother meeting. But seriously this tops a lot of the stories I have heard; it could be turned into a TV series in fact! I know I would watch it.

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29 Julie December 3, 2010 at 3:59 pm

catching up on your posts – this one brings back so many memories! I was the president of my sorority in college. Learned some great life lessons dealing with all the crazy stuff that went on! I have never witnessed the type of raw female emotions that were unleashed at chapter meetings in any other part of my life.

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