What sucks even more is performing when you're sick. It happens -- you have to rehearse and perform rain or shine, and I consider anything less than constant vomit threat as stable playing condition. One time I went to a rehearsal sick, felt not too hot, excused myself to go to the bathroom, and then passed out on the floor of one of the stalls. A conductor found me and brought me into her office, and laid me out on a cot. I was okay after sleeping it off for a couple hours.
This is probably not very healthy behavior. And probably also one of the reasons why viruses spread like wildfire in a music school. Not only are students in constant close quarters with each other (class, jammed in rehearsal spaces and practice rooms, breathing all up in each other's faces), but art students just...aren't healthy. We don't sleep ("Should I sleep? Or practice?...Practice!"). We don't eat ("Should I eat? Or practice?....Practice!"). And when we do eat, it's rarely healthy stuff ("Should I eat? Or practice?...Maybe I'll just grab something from the vending machine really quickly...And then, PRACTICE!"). Additionally, no one stays home when they're sick...so they just end up spreading everything around.
And let's not forget the impending doom of an encroaching sneeze while you're playing flute. The whole time you're praying that you can somehow make the sneeze go away, or at least wait, because you don't want to stop in the middle of playing...but really, the dread of sneeze potential is messing up your music anyway since you're worried so much about it. I don't know what's worse...sneezing a full payload of mucus in the middle of playing, or stopping to sneeze and then having your face twitch alarmingly a few times before the sneeze says: ha ha just kidding! as it disappears without a trace.
Then you have the alarming cold/hot frequencies. One second, you're baking and wondering why the stage lights are so darn hot while your flute lip plate keeps slipping off your lips because you're sweating so much, and then the next you get these dizzying, cold flashes that cut like a frozen wind off the tundra.
As a post-graduate in an unforgiving competitive world, concerts are great places to chat with audience members, and to hear about what composers and fellow musicians are up to. But when you're sick, you just can't focus. My mind kept wandering while I wondered why the room was so hot, or where the closest wastebasket was (just in case). Then there was the uncomfortable realization that I was leaking (sweating, eyes watering, nose running) coupled with the desperate hope that it wasn't evident. My eyes kept watering, and I kept wanting to explain that it was because I was a little sick and not because I was being overly emotional about the topic at hand.
I think of that movie scene every time I'm sick and have to shake someone's hand. Maybe it's too much pressure to put on my already about-to-implode sick brain, but I can't help it. I have a flash of that scene whenever someone extends their hand to me while I'm unwell. I don't want to get you sick, but maybe it's super impolite to decline a handshake or it's a faux-pas to admit my infirmity. Maybe I should shake your hand and then offer you a squirt of Purell right after.
So please don't try and shake my hand for the next couple days. I might get a look in my eyes like I'm a caged animal. I'm hoping to get better soon though! I have another concert next week, and I'd love to be able to hear/perform/enjoy.
Stay well, friends!