RICHARDS: A sick day in Villanova’s Health Center

Amy Richards

I sit up in a small, white, hospital-style bed watching daytime TV. The last time I found myself engaged in these shows was here, at the Villanova Health Center. 

I was admitted today at 1300 hours by a bubbly nurse practitioner. “Get this girl a bed!” she yelled down the hall to her associate. Yes, please, a bed would be great.    

I have a roommate; we introduced ourselves over Gatorade and saltines and then listed our symptoms without looking too long at each other’s sweaty, war-torn faces. 

Was it the Pit food we ate for dinner last night or perhaps a roommate’s friend who is responsible for spreading this innocuous disease? I live off-campus; I thought I had been emancipated from those awful Quad diseases.

Anyway, we decide jointly, no more Pit food for at least a day and a half.  

It turns out we have the same diagnosis, one of those stomach viruses that thrives on young, otherwise healthy, Villanova students. 

Seeing as sleep isn’t coming (but my food from yesterday certainly is), I will take a few moments to reflect on my virus and the Villanova Health Center experience. Be it a piece of glass in the foot, a torn muscle, a nasty virus or paralyzing kidney infection, the Health Center has been unwaveringly…concerned…for my health. 

Whatever remedies they suggest in the end, I know that these nurses, nurse practitioners and doctors have prescribed to cure them, out of the tender love in their hearts for us promising college students. 

In fact, I even refer to one nurse practitioner, Mary Agnes, as my primary care doctor when asked by other specialists off campus.  They ask, “Mary Agnes…?” Yes, that is she. “Does she have a last name?” No, they just call her Mary Agnes.

Many of you know her or another Health Center nurse practitioner to look you in the eye and ask, “Where does it hurt honey? Did you poop today? How many times? Have you been throwing up? How many times? Are you sexually active?”

It is perhaps the part of the Villanova experience that is least discussed around campus, but we’ve all been there: getting sick in a row of stalls across from a group of girls readying themselves to go out, a neighbor showering for class or just another sick person. 

In fact, freshman year, a fellow student suggested that I embrace Mononucleosis with open arms if I hadn’t been diagnosed with it before because it was certain I wouldn’t leave college without it.  

When it is a stomach virus that sends us running to the bathroom, however, we think, “I don’t deserve this, I didn’t even go out last night.” 

That guy deserves it. But certainly I do not. 

Then there is that moment in which we find ourselves taking care of a sick roommate, but secretly disinfecting his or her things, opening windows and throwing out all the leftovers in the fridge after taking him or her to the Health Center, thankful that we’re not the sick ones. 

Well, today I’m sick, and my roommates can disinfect while I’m gone. 

My new roommate has fallen asleep, and I’m on ice cube number 35 and counting. I think I have a fever, which means this is my chance. I might just press that red button at the side of my bed. 

That’s what it is there for, no? Here it goes, I’m going to do it. 

Here comes the nurse with reinforcement: Gatorade with a side of Tylenol. 

That’s right, I couldn’t ask for a better sick afternoon than here in my bed at the Villanova Health Center.