COLUMN: MY EXPERIENCE IN ISOLATION

LAUREN WISDOM, TRUMPET FEATURES WRITER

At first, I thought it was allergies. Then, my coronavirus results came back positive.

My story begins August 30. It was the day my softball team had a team bonding activity where the purpose was for us to get to know new and older faces better. Our team bonding activity was a field day (remember back in elementary school?). At our field day, we played games like a blindfolded scavenger hunt, a three-legged race, a game of tag where the objective was to pop your opponent’s balloon that was tied around their ankle, and a few more. 

One event that I participated in was a wheelbarrow race. My partner and I came in dead last, but we made up for it by coming in first place in the water balloon toss. All morning, the entire team wore our face masks and made sure to sanitize our hands periodically. No one thought anything bad would come out of it.

Unfortunately, I was contact traced from my wheelbarrow race partner after she began showing symptoms of COVID-19, and she eventually tested positive. 

I remember the moment when I found out I was put into quarantine. I was just getting started on my social media internship for the fall. To know what is expected of me for the remainder of the semester, I had a meeting with my internship adviser. Toward the end of our meeting, one of her colleagues pulled her out of the office. As she walked back in, I was politely asked to leave as I had appeared to be on the quarantine list. I felt disappointed because I did not think that I would ever be put in this position. Also, I was unsure of how the rest of the week would go for me as I was instructed to not leave my room until I would get tested.  

I started off in quarantine on September 1, and it was very odd for me. I felt like people were afraid of me, which I understand.

On campus, I am living in The Residence with six other girls. I was by myself in my individual room for four days in a row. It was sad because I could hear all of my roommates having a good time with each other in our common area, but I was incapable of joining in on the fun.

The only time I could leave my room was to use the restroom. After I was done in the restroom, I had to sanitize everything I touched to prevent my suitemates from getting sick. And, I had to wear a face mask if there was a chance of getting close to my immediate roommate or my other suitemates. It was strange wearing a mask in my own room. 

During my days in quarantine, I was delivered two meals (lunch and dinner) to my door in a brown paper bag between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. I was pleasantly surprised at how much food I received after hearing complaints from other students at different universities about what they were served during their quarantine. At New York University, a freshman, Madison Feldman, received “bottled water, a plain bagel in sealed packaging, a croissant in sealed packaging and grape juice in a plastic container” for breakfast, according to CBS News.

After two days, I felt great and was back to normal. I felt like it was only allergies, which would make sense because the pollen counts were high. However, with COVID-19, I did not know if my symptoms were symptoms of the coronavirus or from allergies.

I had my symptom checker check in on me every day to see how I was feeling both physically and mentally. She asked me if I ever needed anything, or if any changes needed to be made to my meal plan. I was very appreciative of her, other Wartburg staff members, my coaches, my family and a few of my friends who reached out to me to make sure I was doing OK.

September 4 was my day to get tested for COVID-19. Going into the test, I was feeling confident that my results would turn out to be negative because I was completely convinced that what I had was allergies. I was wrong.

I got a call from my athletic trainer that afternoon during class, and she informed me that my results were positive. We were both shocked by the news. When she called, I had asked when I would find out where I would be placed for isolation, and she told me I would get a call from Residential Life shortly. I was given the option to go back home to Illinois, but I wanted to keep my parents safe, so I decided to isolate in Waverly.

I was expecting a quick turnaround for me to pack up all of my things and move to another place for 10 days. I kicked it into gear and packed up the items that I felt like I would need for a little over a week. However, it took hours until I was notified of where I was going. After I reached out to Residential Life to know where I was going to stay, Cassie Hales said, “I’m working on that right now.” 

After being told at 2:10 p.m. on September 4 that I tested positive for COVID-19, finally, I moved to a nice apartment for the week by myself that night. But the next day, I was given the option to move to a different apartment so I could be with people. I felt like that would be better for my mental health if I had people to talk to all week.

On the first night when we were all together, my housemates and I watched the live-action “Mulan” movie. Even though my four housemates were roommates on campus so they were already bonded, they were very welcoming of me.

Aside from the fun and games, there was another matter that disappointed me. I was never given a list of items I would need to bring to my isolation location. I had to ask my friends in isolation what was provided and what I would need to pack.

Something that I wish I was informed about was bringing bed sheets. I only brought a pillow and a blanket, which left me sleeping on a bare mattress that came from Wartburg until someone dropped off sheets for me earlier in the week.

Quarantine and isolation were very different situations that I never saw myself in. My mental health took a bit of a toll just because I was by myself and had enough time to think about everything going on in my life.

Being put into isolation was a lot to take in all at once. I was nervous about never leaving my location, doing my classes all online and not being able to do anything about It, I could not participate in group meetings in person, and I could not attend my softball team’s lifting days. Due to the fact that I was thinking about so many things related to COVID-19, I was not directing my full attention toward my schooling or my new internship, which then put me behind and led me to be stressed.

The negative aspects of being put into isolation outweigh the positives. One of the positives is being placed into a house or apartment with people you may not necessarily know and becoming friends with them. Perhaps these new friends could be people you would have never associated yourself with if you were still on campus.

The moral of my story is, wear your mask, avoid large social gatherings, keep at least six feet apart, and wash your hands often. For not the sake of yourself, but for the sake of others.

MORE COVID COVERAGE: WARTBURG BANS STUDENT FROM CAMPUS, QUARANTINE/ISOLATION RULES BROKEN

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