Elise Fero recounts her experiences after 10 days of isolating in her dorm
Isolation felt like home, not the home you want to be in, the home you’re stuck with until life gives you an opportunity for change. I spent days journaling and staring out the screen door at a single pinecone stuck between the boards of the porch I wasn’t allowed to step foot on.
After ten days, I finally received the call informing me it could be my last day in isolation. My first thought, ‘well shucks I just ordered groceries.’
As excited as I was, something inside me was terrified to leave. Most of my anxiety surrounding COVID-19 had disappeared. I was recovering fast and my parents, friends and boyfriend all tested negative, but I was experiencing a new kind of anxiety. Life after COVID-19.
My life had suddenly become full of consequences I had no control of. I watched friends lose opportunities because they were required to quarantine after spending time with me. I feared the current science could be wrong, that my release could be lethal. I was consumed by an overwhelming fear that someone could’ve died because of me. Yet selfishly, all I wanted was to be set free.
When I was cleared for release, I let out a sigh of relief and broke out into tears and uncontrollable laughter. The second the call was over, I opened the door and felt the cool air rush past me without the filter of a screen standing between us for the first time in over a week. The simple act of stepping outside was an indescribable joy I’ve never felt before. I was finally able to pick up the pinecone that had stared at me for so long.
During those ten days in isolation, I’d planned exactly what I’d do when I was released. My list consisted of finding a dog to pet, reuniting with an army of banana slugs and going to the beach.
I was determined to return to the coffee shop where I had received the bad news that I tested positive for COVID-19. That first sip of coffee tasted like the conclusion to my horror.
I’ve never felt closer to nature than that day, on the beach and in the forest. The same day, I was reunited with my best friends the banana slugs.
For the next week, I spent as much time as possible outside. I abandoned my introverted tendencies and greeted everyone I saw. It was an awakening. For the first time, I experienced the world without taking it for granted.
Coronavirus was not just unpleasant, it was living out the nightmare the world warned us to fear and facing the possibility of dying alone. The experience robbed me of all my comforts and left me deserted. Watching others claim that my illness was a lie and that they would never catch it. To be honest, I never thought I would either.
This virus is not prejudiced. It will try to kill anyone given the chance. Doctors pour their lives into patients who may not live to see tomorrow. Family members are forced to say goodbye, praying it’s not for the last time. Survivors are absorbed in guilt after watching others die from the virus they passed on. It never leaves your mind, the fact that you could’ve been a statistic on the list of those who passed.
For those who experience this virus, I share my story to provide you comfort. I was lucky to have survived. Not everyone is. I always had it in the back of my mind that others in isolation spend their final days alone.
I thank the universe this wasn’t my fate and for giving me more time to share my story and grow from it.