Last weekend I had the pleasure of being gravely ill. I found that there are some definite differences between being sick at home and being sick at school. For one thing, the thought you might die crosses your mind much more often. This isn't because your parents aren't around; rather, it's because when you tell the people at Gannett your throat hurts, they explain they might have to operate. Being sick at school also means getting to walk around with your hair up like Jimmy Neutron and a glazed look in your eyes without your housemate asking for a hit.

I don't want to make illness sound too good though. Most of the time, the frigid Ithaca air turns blood to ice in your veins, forcing your teeth to melodically chatter and giving you what's called a temperature. When you don't have a temperature, you want to open all your windows because you would swear global warming had come back to finish the job it started last week and was determined to sauté your brain into a crispy gray-matter latka. As with all near-terminal diseases, mine was accompanied by a host of friendly add-on symptoms like visions of racquetball-playing camels, random bursts of praise for Meg Ryan and fatigue.

It was a trying few days and I learned the hard way that Ithaca doesn't have great bedside manner, despite its comfy climate. Though limited in some respects, there are ways to survive the plague, typhoid, herpes and menopause while in Ithaca. (These suggestions are dedicated to all the mommies who have tried to teach their young ones the same lessons.)

Stage One: Defense

When you feel the ungloved hand of death reach out for you, jump in the car and head to Wegman's. Since you are getting sick, you are legally entitled to take the spots otherwise reserved for "Customers with Children." Think of yourself as gestating a billion microscopic babies with hundreds of perfect cilia, two perfect little vacuoles and the cutest mitochondria you've ever seen. Unfortunately, these little bacterial angels will kill you -- just ask the Muppets.

BW: Right guys?
Kermit: …
Miss Piggy: …
Gonzo: …
Fozy: …
Beeker: …

Load your cart with three gallons of water, at least six cans of Chicken Noodle Soup, Tylenol, Advil, Robitussin DM, more soap (I know you ran out and have been using shampoo for a week) and some havarti. Also, don't forget some of that nighttime, sniffling, sneezing, coughing, aching, stuffy head, fever, so-you-can-rest medicine. Try not to get this confused with the nighttime, smooching, snuggling, hugging, ooohing, ahhing, so-we-can-hump medicine. You'll need your energy.

Stage Two: Seek Expertise

Call your doctor. He'll know which strand of which disease is on which campus and will then accurately inform you to stay in bed, drink lots of water and rest.

It is most likely that if you have a temperature, a sore throat, are experiencing chills and hot flashes and generally feel achy, you are going through menopause. Congratulations, at least you don't have typhoid.

Stage Three: Attack!

Make yourself an over-the-counter cocktail. Jump in bed and get ready to feel like you just received a transfusion of Southern Comfort. Stay down, pop those emerald NyQuils and get ready for wellville. On NyQuil, the world suddenly becomes an mLife commercial where everything is cheery and everyone is hospitable -- people's words fall gently on your ears, and yet you have no idea what the hell anyone is talking about.

Stage Two and a Half:

Don't forget to do this!

Oops, I forgot to mention that before you pop NyQuil, you need to find your remote. Without remote control, you're at the mercy of TBS: Upstate New Yorks' self-proclaimed "Super Station." In my weakened state I was unable and unwilling to get up and find mine and ended up watching Three Men and a Baby … twice.

Stage Four: Recovery

Stay in bed. During recovery, your middle ear, the balance-savant of your body, is very susceptible to infection. This means that if you get up, you fall down, you go boom. Don't make light of this situation. Every year thousands of people fall down and go boom, and most of them don't have an accident prone elderly woman with a magic necklace to signal 9-1-1.

Drink the water. Dave Matthews was wrong.

Don't go out in the snow. Snow angels may seem like a good idea, but the last thing you want to hear Ernesto say is, "Oops, your fingers froze off."

Stage Five: Discover the Meaning of Life

With at least 4 days to sit around and take mild drugs, why not solve the pesky little question about mankind's purpose on Earth. I can't think of a better way to kick off an illness than dialing The Big G and asking him what the dealio is.

BW: Hey G, what's with life?
TBG: Neophyte… you failed to dial 10-10-220!
(Sounds of thunder, my first born gets smote, frogs rain from the heavens, the operator disconnects us.)

When it's your turn, I suggest you save thy Lord a buck or two.

Follow the path and soon enough your illness will subside. You'll return to the life you once knew, and in time your friends will lift the pariah label from your name. You will be welcomed back among the living and rejoice in talking about all the visions you had. Be well. Good night sweetheart, well it's time to go.