COLUMN: I got too comfortable amid COVID-19 pandemic, had to learn from my mistakes
Choosing to live with five other girls was high-risk behavior. Possibly more fights, drama, stealing and, in 2020, more exposure to COVID-19.
On Sept. 28, I received a text from my roommate that put my life on hold for almost a month.
“hi sooo i have covid,” the text read.
Three of us had gone back to our hometown, visiting parents, young siblings and grandparents.
I went home the previous Sunday night for family dinner and learned from that text the next day that I possibly exposed four people without knowing it.
I had exposed my two sisters, one of whom was supposed to be a bridesmaid in her life-long best friend’s wedding the following weekend; my step-mom, who takes care of a newborn grandchild and runs a company with several employees with families; perhaps, the worst of all -- my dad.
The 55-year old man was raised by smokers and spends 12 hours of his day removing asbestos, a lung-cancer causing chemical, for the past 20 years.
Feeling the guilt of possibly serving my dad his death sentence was something I tried to avoid by convincing myself I didn’t have it. However, it overtook me as I sulked and quarantined in my childhood room.
Every cough or sniffle I produced the next few days reminded me of the fact I was trying to avoid.
I could have COVID-19.
One day after the first roommate tested positive, a second roommate tested positive. My possibility of having it doubled and so did the guilt. I questioned every decision I had made over the past few days.
I got too comfortable. Getting exposed shifted me back to the reality of this pandemic: it is real and still growing. Cases spiked at Central Michigan University during the week everything happened, I shouldn’t have gone home without getting tested. I should’ve been smarter, and I still regret it.
I didn’t want to get tested. When tests started rolling out, I was terrified. I heard horror stories about the nasal swabs. The pain, the nosebleeds and possible brain damage. As my doctor came into the room in a full-blown hazmat suit, I thought my worst nightmares were coming true.
To my surprise, the rumors weren’t true. The test wasn’t painful, no nosebleeds and my brain is still intact. I was told I would get my results in three to four days.
Waiting was the worst part. No one could be around me, and no one wanted to. Only my dog seemed excited to see me, which honestly was enough for me.
My life felt like a flashback to March. Zoom calls with friends, working from home and completely remote learning. Not only did I get comfortable within a pandemic, the whole world did. As we try to resume normal life with COVID-19, I can’t help but think this is the way things should’ve been all along, staying home and staying safe.
Unable to sleep, I kept refreshing the website where I would get my results every hour. Eventually, a notification popped up. My test came back negative. I let out a sigh of relief and rolled over to sleep for the first time in days.
Almost a month later, I still don’t understand how I didn’t contract COVID-19. My roommates and I share clothes, food, drinks and a whole living space with several shared areas for the virus to spread like the kitchen or bathrooms.
I don’t know why this virus was selective in our household. I’m just thankful I didn’t get it. Not for myself, but for the people I could’ve exposed. My roommates suffered from muscle aches, sore throat, fever, tiredness and other awful symptoms I wouldn’t wish on anyone.
After three weeks stuck in my bedroom, I was able to go back to my now COVID-19 free off-campus house.
Fellow students, I encourage you to get tested before going back home, especially before winter break. The feeling of knowing you’re going back home safely and protecting your family from a potentially deadly virus is always worth it.
Wash your hands, sanitize, wear a mask and get tested. In 2020, you never know where COVID-19 is lurking and who it will come after next. Learn from me, don’t get comfortable and keep your loved ones in mind when traveling back home.