I tested positive for COVID-19 just over a month ago and I’m still left guessing, questioning, and most of all, frustrated. How? Why? When? I have many unanswered questions, most of which will remain unanswerable.
I’m a junior in college in the middle of a global pandemic. I attend classes, go to the dining hall every weekday for dinner and get to-go. Maybe I visit the mailroom or library once a week. If I’m lucky, I go to the grocery store or Target once. I see my roommates, I social distance with friends, I fix dinners in our apartment, and have wild movie nights to make up for the lack of going out and to subdue boredom. Honestly, college in a pandemic is as boring and depressing as it gets.
So when I tested positive after being exposed to COVID-19, to say I was shocked is an understatement. You question what you did wrong or who could’ve possibly exposed you? You question and rehearse the past two weeks trying to calculate the exact moment where you could’ve picked up trances of the virus and question if you hurt anyone in the midst of not knowing you had it. Was it that time I went to the dining hall when it was too packed, was it in Target getting my shampoo, at the gas station, at the grocery store for our weekend dinners… the classroom? Embarrassment hits next, frustrated with yourself that you don’t have these answers and therefore, have to take the full blame even when you thought you were doing everything right. It doesn’t help either when your school sends out proclamations targeting its students. Then comes informing the family, the friends, your professors, trying to figure out the next steps. How will this affect me? How will I attend my classes? Will I lose my mind alone for 10 days without human interaction? What will the meals look like? Who do I contact? Will I lose my sense of smell forever? Will I have trouble breathing? How will others response?
How will this affect my future? My health?
They seem like big questions? Some ironic and seemingly miniscule. Questions perhaps we don’t casually think about.
To answer those questions, yes, 10 days without human interaction, locked in a small apartment quite poorly lit, is not ideal. Fresh air I’ve never appreciated more after isolation honestly. As for how it affected me, I’m not sure. Feelings of illness came in waves for the first 5 days. First, severe congestion and what felt like a horrible ear infection. Then a slight cough and sore throat. Then, the worst, the loss of taste and smell entirely; luckily, this came back within a week, but eating was miserable. Series of fatigue came in crashing waves, nausea ad headaches so intense I couldn’t even get up or form coherent sentences in class sometimes. My mind was literally… on fire. And of course, weird periods of intense chest heaviness that are still prevalent now along with slight mind fogginess. Let me tell you, I thought speed walking up three flights of stairs in McM was bad before COVID, it’s 10x more painful now.
I cannot coherently describe the emotional turmoil much less the physical distress COVID-19 puts on you. Experiencing it first hand, as someone who always intensely made sure she was safe– asthma is not fun– I cannot articulate enough how serious the illness is, even to someone as ‘young’ and ‘healthy’ as I and most of my peers are. We don’t know the long-term affects of this virus, we don’t know how each will respond or if later illnesses will present, and we cannot know the true extent of mental or physical toil it will take on us.
Be safe folks, stay informed, and get vaccinated (you can pre-register through the VHD).