Everybody thinks the they’re one in a million, but I know for a fact that I am one in a hundred thousand – roughly. Yes, I was one of the between three and six thousand people to be diagnosed with Guillain-Barre Syndrome in the United States each year. For those who have never heard of Guillain-Barre (which should be everyone), it’s an autoimmune disorder in which your body decides to completely freak out and create antibodies that attack your nerves and leave you weak and numb. I was sitting in a hospital room, ridiculous gown and all (as you can tell from the thumbnail, I rocked it), when the doctor gave me the diagnosis and told me, “You’ll make a full recovery eventually, but it will probably take around six months, so you will possibly have to miss most of the semester, if not all of it.” Those words hit me like a doctor-shaped brick (the kind used to make doctor-shaped houses) – I might have to miss the whole semester?! To use one word, I was devastated. To use two words, I was really devastated.
Now, I would like to pause the story here to tell you that I will not, in fact, have to miss the entire semester. I won’t even have to miss a month, or a week – I’m missing a grand total of one day of classes because the only flight I could find got in at 4 pm on Monday the 30th. Thankfully, it turns out I’m super good at recovering from Guillain-Barre, which is a skill I hope to never again utilize, and got better much more quickly than anticipated. For a week or so, though, I did think I’d have to miss most of the semester – or all of it – and as expected, that provided more than enough food for thought and reflection. So, without further ado, here are the top seven things you miss about Hopkins while bedridden in the hospital with a rare autoimmune disorder.
1. Walking under your own power
Ok this one isn’t really about Hopkins, but I think it definitely deserves a spot on the list regardless. Walking is cool, don’t forget that.
2. Just doing things.
Yup, just the ability to do things. Netflix is fantastic and books are awesome, but after a while, you inevitably get bored of just sitting around and consuming entertainment. Variety is the spice of life, which makes an extended hospital stay the equivalent of mayo on white bread. You miss all the opportunities campus provides to do things, like go out to eat, play basketball, walk to Hampden, and even study for exams.
3. Campus itself
When you’re cooped up in one room for the majority of 10 days, you begin to itch for wide open spaces, and sunlight, and grass, and pretty trees and buildings. Homewood campus has all of those things in abundance, so the thought of walking through Gilman Quad under the winter sun, with the cold (but not too cold) air hitting your face starts to sound pretty good.
4. The Fresh Food Cafe (FFC)
FFC is love, FFC is life. Even as a sophomore (the FFC is primarily frequented by first-year students), I stand by the FFC as one of the finest collegiate dining experiences out there, and am willing to defend it at all costs. Eating hospital food for a week only increases its appeal.
5. Brody Cafe coffee
As with hospital food overall, hospital coffee leaves much to be desired. I may not have the most sophisticated palette, but I know good (or even decent) coffee from hot bean water, and hospital coffee definitely falls into the latter category. Give me my mug of Brody coffee any day.
6. The Brody Bustle™
There’s a certain set of factors that exist in hubs of activity – places where a lot of people walk through and hang out in and generally exist – that combine to give the impression of a certain energy that permeates the air. The din of conversation, hum of the air conditioner, vibrations of thousands and thousands of individual steps, all of these contribute to a buzz that is almost tangible. So the Brody Bustle™ is pretty much that, just in the Brody Learning Commons. It’s energizing and infectious, and you miss it when you’re sitting in your decidedly un-energetic hospital room.
7. Your friends
I saved this one for last, because it’s the most important (aww). Not to be cliche, but for the sake of honesty, I have to admit that my friends were the first thing I thought of when I was told that I might miss the semester. I realized how much I looked forward to getting back to school and hanging out with them, and couldn’t imagine not seeing any of them for months. So go give your friend a hug, or a high five, or whatever wacky thing you kids do nowadays to say hello to each other, because it’s pretty neat that you can.