This week I’m going to tell you about my roommate Hannah.
Out of the six roommates, Hannah talks the most and laughs the loudest. She is our room’s coffee expert and supplies us with cold-brew every week. She thrives on being busy, meeting new people, and watching her Spanish TV show. She loves to talk about life at late hours of the night. She laughs more at herself than she does anybody else (and trust me, she laughs at other people).
Hannah came to school four days early to be a WOW leader. If you don’t know what that is, WOW leaders (WOW: Week of Welcome, or freshman orientation week) are those enthusiastic people with never-ending energy who help you move your bags in and cheer wildly during Freshman Olympics (among other things).
So she came early to be a WOW leader, but when she came she was quite sick. She had bad sinuses and a severe cold so that, despite all her medicines, when she woke up in the morning it was hard for her to breathe and her face was swollen. By the time she was done with her WOW responsibilities (and even before then) she would come back to our apartment and crash, sleeping until her next event.
Fast forward three weeks and she was still sick and her face would still swell in the mornings. Once, after a few days of feeling better, she tried lessening the amount of meds she was taking, but that put her right back to the state of feeling like her head was a balloon ready to pop. After several phone calls with her doctor back home and with the hospital in Sioux Center, she decided to go in for an appointment.
Tuesday Hannah went to the doctor for an appointment. Friday she had surgery. They drilled two holes up her nose and drained the infection in her sinus cavity which had been eating away at the bone surrounding the cavity. Had it been left much longer Hannah could have had much more serious problems.
After her surgery Hannah was on as many meds as ever, but now her nose was also slowly but steadily bleeding. This is where I hope you see an awesome part of Hannah’s character. Throughout the whole three weeks she was sick (three weeks for us, but more for her because she had actually been sick even before she came to school) Hannah was still involved in numerous things—tutoring Spanish students, giving piano lessons, meeting with people in her WOW group, participating on Student Symposium—so she didn’t just sit around all day moaning about being sick. Although this sometimes meant she was exhausted enough to break down into tears of frustration, generally she was still happy and cheerful.
Now she was going into week four of being sick and tired, and let me tell you, surgery was a scary thing. Having to go to not just a hospital, but also an unfamiliar hospital, is not fun. Having to go without your parents is not fun. Having to try and remember everything the doctor is telling you by yourself is not fun. Having to have surgery three days after finding out you have a serious infection is terrifying.
Now I know you are still waiting to hear what Hannah did that was so amazing. I’ll tell you now. If you remember, after surgery she had a steady nose-bleed. To avoid having to continually hold a tissue to her face, she would fold a napkin and tape it onto her face, just below her nose. The first night she did this, she had another one of our roommates draw a mustache on the napkin. From then on, she could not have a napkin taped to her face unless someone was also willing to draw a mustache (and she made us all draw one at least once). So here she was: just had surgery, nose bleeding, and she’s wearing napkin mustaches (and making us all crack up at them too). I couldn’t believe that she was still finding ways to laugh at herself even amidst feeling self-conscious about how sick she looked.
The whole being sick and having surgery was a major trial for Hannah, and she went through it like a champ. But I do like to think that as an apartment, we helped her even just a little bit. Each of us—sure, some more than others—were there at some point to be a crying shoulder, to take her to her appointments, and to stay with her when she was on too many meds to function by herself. We knew each other a whole lot better after the whole ordeal.
We were also there to celebrate with Hannah on her good days. And celebrate we did at the end of this week, after she was finally able to start going to classes again and stop wearing napkin mustaches. Thanks to Hannah’s parents, we ordered pizzas (one from Pizza Ranch, one from Pizza hut, just to spice things up a little) and breadsticks and had our first official roomie dinner. We sat around our little round table, plates and cups mostly matching, and ate and laughed for about two hours straight.
I know for sure Hannah wouldn’t want to go through that again, and none of us would want her to either. But I also know that experiences like these make me glad I’m surrounded by people like my roommates: people we trust and love and laugh with. By people like Hannah.