Graphic by Taylor Rodriguez
By Taylor Rodriguez
Being in isolation sucks.
I absolutely despise it, I never want to be in isolation again.
I went nearly one year of this pandemic without catching COVID. For months I isolated last year, and here we are in 2021, in isolation.
On Jan. 29th, 2021, I tested positive for COVID-19 and subsequently went into isolation.
For three days before I tested positive I had a constant fever of 103 degrees Fahrenheit, constant headaches and heat flashes.
I thought maybe it was just an unlucky flu catch, and it would blow over pretty quickly.
I was told that I was “highly contagious” and needed to quarantine for 10 days minimum. I would not be isolated on campus but instead at a nearby motel as no dorm rooms were ready for me to isolate in.
What does that mean? Where in the world am I going? What will happen to my roommate and suitemates? Will I get to see my family if I am hospitalized? What do I do?
More than ever, I wanted to see my parents. I don’t think I’ve ever been this homesick before.
Memories of being sick back home came to mind. Whenever I would have a fever, my Mom would check up on me before leaving for work in the morning, Gatorade and saltine crackers in hand.
An onslaught of panic and fear clouded my mind as I packed. I had little time to pack my stuff and pick up my thoughts.
My major is computer science, so my computer setup needed to come with me. I tore apart the technology on my desk and threw it into my SUV.
Underwear, toothpaste, shampoo, cough drops, a litany of items I needed to pack flew through my head.
I packed everything else in a hurry, as I needed to isolate as soon as possible. I grabbed my most comfortable blanket and my sketchbook as I finished packing my car.
Soon after, I followed one of the Residence Life staff to the location of my stay. The Econolodge on Main Street.
I was given some food for the weekend and told to contact anyone from residence life for anything at all.
I felt like they cared a lot about me and it helped calm me down after my initial panic dissipated.
Once I was moved in and the person who escorted me to the motel left, I felt embarrassed and angry. I’m usually so careful about this, and I quarantined for nearly half a year in 2020 to make sure I wouldn’t ever get sick.
Me getting COVID could cause extreme danger for my family.
I have two autoimmune members in my immediate family. They hadn’t gotten vaccinated at the time, so I was apprehensive about getting them sick the next time I saw them.
My first few days in isolation were spent in a feverish cycle of getting up, taking a ripping hot bath, getting dressed, and signing on for work from 8 a.m. to noon. I spent the rest of those first few days waking up in between five to six-hour-long naps to drink water and cycle my fluids.
It was on the fourth day of isolation I noticed that I may be screwed.
My sense of smell and taste has been severely modified. Most meats tasted weirdly chemical or spoiled. Certain seasoning tasted off and left a bitter profile in the back of my throat.
At one point, I was in the bathroom, extremely nauseated and about to vomit after forcing myself to eat something that didn’t sit well.
Not fun. Not at all.
I eventually figured out that sweet things like pastries, bread and yogurt were fine. That ended up being my diet for the entirety of my isolation.
But, there was a silver lining in this. As I recovered in that motel room, I realized that I would survive this. People were outside this room that cared about me and wanted to aid me in my recovery.
One of my buddies brought me some aspirin when I so desperately needed it. I genuinely think I would’ve suffered a lot more if he hadn’t brought me any.
That’s another thing that sucks about being isolated.
If something were to happen, no one would know. Of course, if I was in the right state of mind, I could call for help, but being in that situation would be scary no matter what.
By the fifth and sixth days, I was mostly over the worst of the symptoms, save for a nasty cough and my taste being demolished. No fever, no headaches, I felt like I was finally on top of this virus.
Soon after, I was moved back on campus in Honors. There I met a new friend as we were both in the post symptom stage of isolation.
This is where my isolation takes a turn.
Last spring, I ran into a bout of mental health issues from being quarantined for so long. All I needed was some time outside, and I was good to go.
Unfortunately, the same treatment cannot be applied here. I was stuck inside for another seven to eight days.
Every day, I woke up dreading the same logging pattern into Zoom and wasting away at my computer monitor.
There is nowhere I can go and nothing I can do beyond my keyboard. I have to wait. There is time being spent here that I can never get back.
This routine of wasting time and being stuck made me feel weirdly alienated and unnatural.
I felt so bizarre, digital and counterfeit. I felt like I was disappearing before my own eyes.
My presence was solely digital at this point. Zoom for class, Zoom for work, no face-to-face interaction, I felt like no one would even realize I disappeared since I’ve been isolated for so long.
I felt like I was living on a flash drive, and I would disappear the moment I was unplugged.
As the days went on, I counted the hours until I could leave. That slowly decreasing number was increasing my excitement each day.
Then, on Feb. 11th, I was done with isolation. I was cleared, my test came back negative. I didn’t have to live in fear of being forgotten.
As soon as I was moved back into my original room, I went to Mcdonalds and got myself a kid’s happy meal. You may laugh, but for me, it was sensational.
I was out; I didn’t have to subsist on yogurt and pop tarts anymore. I could taste the nostalgic burger and had the hot, greasy french fries in my hands.
My real, human hands.
Maybe it was all in my head. Perhaps I would have really disappeared if I spent more time isolated. Who knows? I do know one thing for sure, though.
Being in isolation sucks.