By Emily Squires |
2020 as we all know, has brought forth a new dreaded diagnosis; You have Covid. When I got the phone call confirming positive results, I had thought that might be the worst part, the receiving of information that would bound me to my bedroom for ten plus days. I was wrong. There’s a more problematic side that I hadn’t considered to its full extent.
The guilt of feeling shamefully responsible. This indirect guilt stemmed from the possibility that I had infected others around me solely just because I had been in their presence.
Perhaps I wasn’t cautious enough, or hadn’t washed my hands roughly enough. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so stingy with my four Bath and Body Works fall scented hand sanitizers. I had my mask on in all required locations but maybe I should have been more anal. Yet I truthfully knew I had been cautious in my actions, I was doing what I could to prevent the spread. These things happen, and it was not my fault. Yet these thoughts of self doubt and blame quickly flooded in. knew that somewhere in those past weeks I had been in contact with Covid-19 and soon it took over my immune system. IT COULD NOT BE HELPED.
Yet when I had to contact those I had been around in the past several days, I was afraid their reactions would match my feelings for the spread. I was luckily met with sympathy from most of my friends and family. There was just a heavy concern that I could feel as a tension between me and who I was informing. Their own safety was unknowingly compromised because they had been around me. It’s a strange feeling. I also had to contact my professors of Suny Broome to let them in on the situation. I had dreaded to think that only two days before being tested for COVID I had been on campus for a class. I had again unknowingly compromised those around me, even though I was just doing what I had needed to do, classwork. Covid-19 in my experience puts individuals in societal situations this generation hasn’t never experienced. The fear of contact, the mass concern of our health’s safety, and with all just cause. Despite the controversy some believe there to be.
I really feel like my experience with Covid was, well a waste of my time and energy, as any sickness does. Seeing how I am an individual who successfully struggles with mental illnesses, such as the too common depression and anxiety and some spice of PTSD, I knew from the moment there was the potential that I was about to struggle even more.
Managing online classes requires self discipline, time management, and a lot of willpower to stay motivated on the other side of the screen where you’re distantly working on “your future”. And as a visual communications major, as an artist, this is definitely an… interesting approach I had to take with caution and precision. I consider myself to be on the higher functioning side for all the internal struggles I face. A heavy desire to strive but tentative motivation to do so. So catching Covid-19, well I knew it was really going to mess up any kind of flow I had.
I was right. During my fourteen days in isolation in my small bedroom, I had managed to do almost nothing. Seeing how I’m sick and all, and I was truthfully slightly terrified.
In March of 2019, I spent multiple days recovering in Syracuse hospital after my lungs had collapsed. I had been intubated; apparently as I was unconscious I had managed to grab and rip out the intubator tubes from my lungs three separate times. Hence why I woke up with my wrists restrained by my sides, and as you might guess really painful lungs. At one point, I had to have my lungs vacuumed out because of infection and fluids. Even being doped up and hardly conscious at that point, that pain and uncomfortability is easily still something I hope to never experience ever again. So this dred of preexisting knowledge of the intubation process, and pre existing damage to my lungs, really set me on edge to the fact that my recovery may not be nearly as speedy or as easy as others in my age range.
My actual experience of feeling Covid in my system while being in quarantine went a little like this, on some days.
Wake up feeling like the breathing pattern isn’t right. Body and sheets cold with sweat. Check the temperature and see the high fever. Pop the surplus of recommended vitamins and pain/fever reducers. Maybe shower. Lay in bed for several more hours. Exhausted. Text whomever to bring food or drink. They enter with loaded head gear gloves and mask, making a quick exit. Roll over and cough, watch some Tik Tok, Netflix a lot, and read. Sleep. Lots of sleep.
Coronavirus truly makes you tired, your immune system is so weak, and even after weeks out of being cleared the body is still in recovery processes. I still feel as if I’m a zombie impersonating myself. This tiredness prevented me from having any energy to care at all about homework and due dates, or even bother looking at what had needed to be done.
Reentering society and being able to see the ones I love, (my pets included) has been all I have really been looking forward to. I shoved off any fear of how bad my health could really get or concern for school work to the back of my mind. I stubbornly only thought of the future of getting out of quarantine and back into my normal chaotic life, without this Covid bit. Foolishly I slept days away and wasted time I could have used to my advantage had I really wanted to. But as many researches are showing Coronavirus and Quarantine is affecting those with mental health problems because of the extended period of time of true isolation. I knew I would fall victim to myself, but not all efforts were lost. I finished reading a novel, Slaughterhouse Five by Kurt Vonnegut and managed to sketch out several decent images. My higher functioning self looking back at myself and feeling shame at what more I possibly could have done to be productive while being totally isolated with a deadly virus.
Coming out of quarantine I am surprised that I recovered as I did with great joy. I am grateful for my mom especially, Rachel Osborn, who works as a medical assistant and coordinator at Endwell Family Physicians, who had a great part in my decent recovery. As 2020 moves forward, we have learned of so many different perspectives when looking at Coronavirus and its effects. And I’m hopeful that we will continue to do so in order to move successfully out of this pandemic.